City to fund study of cost for limited development of CR1 park
In a disappointing but not unexpected development, the city of Tonganoxie learned last week its undeveloped Leavenworth County Road 1 industrial park would not be the home of an undisclosed company’s planned expansion.
Tonganoxie City Councilman Chris Donnelly, chairman of the city’s Industrial Park Committee, on Monday shared that news with fellow Tonganoxie City Council members. Donnelly said he, City Administrator Mike Yanez, Leavenworth County Development Council Executive Director Steve Jack and a representative of the Kansas Department of Commerce were informed by a representative of the company of the decision at a private meeting that the city’s CR1 site would not be among the three final sites considered. In a critique of the city’s proposal, the representative said the lack of infrastructure to the site outweighed the positives of its location and easy access to Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 24-40.
“While our site was very well-received, it did not make the final cut,” Donnelly said. “The No. 1 issue was it was not ready to go.”
With that news, Donnelly reintroduced a proposal that the Industrial Park Committee developed and that he first brought to the council last month. He again asked the council to fund a study of the cost of bringing the infrastructure needed to get one site of 40 to 60 acres ready for development.
The engineering firm TransSystems has completed two studies on the cost of developing the 237-acre industrial park the city purchased for $1.38 million in 2008. But Donnelly said those studies — which found the total cost of developing the park with streets, sewers, waterlines, gas, electricity an all other elements to be $14 million — looked at the cost of developing the entire site or phasing in development with the park’s permanent infrastructure for use of five to six tenants.
The approach the Industrial Park Committee proposed was to cut back the infrastructure to that needed for just the park’s first occupant, Donnelly said. That could mean a smaller water line, a forced sewer line or a holding tank rather than a 12-inch sewer main with a lift station and a narrower, shorter road with only the asphalt cap needed for a single tenant. It would be cheaper, but a potential downside was that some of the elements might be abandoned a decade or so later when the park was more thoroughly developed, he said.
Donnelly asked the council to approve a proposal by the city’s engineering consultant firm, BG Consultants, Inc., to perform the study at a cost not to exceed $5,800. The idea of the study was to get the cost associated with getting the park ready for its first tenant at a minimal cost to the city, Donnelly said. That, in turn, would help the council decide what it should do with the property, he said.
“Can we afford to do it (develop the first site)?” Donnelly asked. “If we can’t, lets go to Plan B, and that could be to sell it.”
Councilmen Bill Peak and Jim Truesdell supported the study as a “last-ditch” attempt for the city to develop the park.
However, Councilman Dennis Bixby voted against the proposal, raising an objection that would be voiced in the council’s later discussion on the new police and fire stations. The $5,800 study was too expensive, and the city could get a better deal if it sought competitive bids, he said.
Although Donnelly agreed that was a possibility, there was a need to act quickly, he said. The advantage of engaging BG Consultants for the study was that the firm was ready to go. Any money the city might save from the bidding process could be eaten up by the $200 a day in daily interest the city pays on the debt from the park’s purchase, he said.