Archive for Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Council wants to meet with county about CR1 corridor

March 10, 2010

The Tonganoxie City Council is requesting a joint meeting with the Leavenworth County Commission to resolve differences on a proposed interlocal agreement regarding the Leavenworth County Road 1 corridor.

Ad hoc committees of the city and the county have been meeting in an attempt to piece together the interlocal agreement for the area south of Tonganoxie expected to be developed with the new turnpike interchange and improvements to Leavenworth County Road 1. The agreement would regulate land use in a corridor along County Road 1 and define the financial contributions each should make for improvements to that road.

Councilman Jason Ward explained to the city council Monday that the differences were defined in two proposed draft agreements written since the last joint meeting of the ad hoc committees. One draft was prepared by the city ad hoc committee comprised of himself, Councilwoman Paula Crook and city staff, and the other was the county's response authored by its ad hoc representatives, Ward said.

The county's response eliminated language in four areas of importance to the city, Ward said. City proposals struck in the county draft were:

• A deadline of Dec. 31, 2011, for the appointment of a consultant to conduct a land-use study and recommend development standards for the corridor.

• The consultant's recommendations determine future development standards and land uses in the corridor.

• The city's industrial park be exempted from future county-imposed corridor development fees.

• Language that would give the city extra-territorial jurisdiction in about four square miles south of the city and north of Metro Avenue and east and west of 22nd Street.

The city has agreed to pay $1.5 million for improvements to the road, with $1 million to be paid in annual $100,000 installments through 2018 and the remaining $500,000 at the end of that time through development fees expected to be collected in the corridor. But the city's draft also proposed that final payment be reduced to $300,000 should no agreement be reached on the joint selection of a consultant and the study.

Ward and Crook said the ad hoc committees weren't making progress toward resolution of the four areas.

“We’re playing pingpong,” Crook said. “We thought it best to come up with a meeting to put it on the table.”

Before the council directed staff to schedule the joint meeting, Ward said he was still hopeful an agreement would be developed so that a coordinated approach to land use in the corridor could be pursued.

“There has to be a partnership to realize that,” he said.

Rates climbing at water park

Fees will increase this season at the Tonganoxie Water Park.

The Tonganoxie City Council approved Monday fee increases City Administrator Mike Yanez proposed for the pool's second full year of operation.

City taxpayers subsidized the pool's operation in the amount of $23,514 in 2009, Yanez said. It wasn't an ideal year for the pool with the season's many cool and wet days, he said.

To ease the burden on taxpayers, Yanez proposed family season passes be increased from $130 to $140 for residents and $150 to $160 for non-residents. Individual season passes would increase $5 for all age groups.

The package for 10 swims will reflect a 12.5 percent discount compared to the 15 percent of a year ago, and the package for 20 swims will be a 15 percent discount compared to the 20 percent discount of 2009.

Individual day passes would stay the same for residents but a 50-cent charge would be added for non-residents.

Fees for private party rentals were also increased from $10 to $15, and will depend on the number of swimmers in the party and the length of time the pool is rented.

The council approved the fee increases, but agreed to have staff explore councilmember Tom Putthoff's suggestion a discount be explored for daily noon lap swimmers.

Ward said the fee increases reflected the city's knowledge of the true cost of operating the pool a year-and-a-half after its opening.

Misunderstanding over ordinances

The Tonganoxie City Council agreed to explore requiring two readings of proposed ordinances as a way to avoid misunderstandings like last month's resident uprising over a uniform traffic ordinance.

About 70 residents attended the council's Feb. 22 meeting to voice displeasure over any traffic regulations that would limit how long recreation vehicles could be parked in the city and forbid their parking on unpaved surfaces.

Ward, who presided over Monday's meeting in the absence of Mayor Mike Vestal, commented at the end of the meeting that the meeting was an “embarrassment” that put the city in a bad light.

The residents were worked up because of deliberate “misrepresentations” by another council member, Ward said. The council had already tabled the uniform traffic ordinance because it contained provisions what weren't compatible with Tonganoxie, he said.

Putthoff agreed, saying he got phone calls the day after the meeting accusing the council of trying to sneak the new rules through. He, too, said the council had already agreed to table the matter for further discussion because of the regulations the residents found objectionable.

In response to the criticism, Crook said she thought the residents’ participation was a positive.

“I think people coming in here — it was a good thing,” she said. “It was tabled, but it kept coming back for discussion.

“They told us they didn’t want this discussion. I don’t know where you're coming from (with), ‘You're being misrepresented?’”

Ward said letters posted to residents’ doors of the proposed regulations had no mention that the ordinance was tabled or that council members had their reservations.

“A lot of people were upset unnecessarily,” he said. “I want people to participate, but it doesn’t have to be with misrepresentation.”

Councilmember Burdel Welsh suggested the council could amend its process to avoid such misunderstandings. The city could adopt a policy of two readings of ordinances with passage coming on a second final reading after the council first agreed to move forward with specific language.

With that, the public would be able to learn more about proposed ordinances through press accounts and by reading in public notices, Welsh said.

That process was common and required of the state's first-class cities, city attorney Mike Kelly said.

It was generally agreed the proposal had merit and should be explored, although it was agreed there would be matters that required quicker council action.

“I like Burdel's discussion,” Ward said. “It affords people an opportunity to understand things.”

New police chief could start this fall

Tonganoxie's next police chief would be named Aug. 9, according to a schedule City Administrator Mike Yanez presented Monday to the Tonganoxie City Council.

Yanez characterized the schedule as "liberal” and said it would allow the council flexibility in scheduling interviews. It would advertise the position staring April 15 with an application deadline of May 28. Applications would be reviewed and culled from June 1 through 18. The first round of interviews and follow-up background checks would be scheduled for June 28 through July 23 with a second round of interviews, if needed, conducted July 26 through 30.

Vestal would make his recommendation to the council Aug. 9. The new chief would start Oct. 1.

Welsh, the police chief of Lake Quivira, wondered if that would allow police chief Ken Carpenter enough time to train his replacement before his retirement. Training customarily takes two weeks and can be extended to as long as eight weeks, he said.

If the city hired someone serving as police chief in another city, that person would have to give notice.

With that time requirement and the time needed for training potentially putting a squeeze on an Oct. 1 date, it was agreed to move the date to Sept. 15.

For more on the council meeting, go to tonganoxiemirror.com.

The council also approved hiring part-time police officer Toby Allen to a full-time position. The post came open when Thomas Wiles resigned to take a job with the Lake Quivira Police Department.

After taking good-natured ribbing for the hiring of Wiles, Welsh said council needed to address issues that would cost the city police officers and firefighters.

“I think when we get to work session and look at retirement and pay, it will be harder to hire our officers away,” he said.

Such adjustments could save the city money in the long run, Carpenter said.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a uniform offense code prepared by the Kansas League of Municipalities.

• Agreed the Downtown Revitalization Committee would review options and make recommendations concerning the repair of 4th Street pedestrian crossings.

• Approved the use of the Tonganoxie Historical Society's grounds April 9-11 for the Bald Eagle Re-enactors primitive camp.

• Scheduled a work session for 6 p.m. Monday, March 22, for the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan.

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