Tonganoxie police station, City Hall discussion trudges on

Council approves appraisal bids, tentative budget

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November 17, 2015

The Tonganoxie City Council approved the setting of a budget for an updated City Hall and police station, along with the appraisal bids for a church that could be the new home for the police department.

About 20 people were in attendance, some voicing opposition to a police move to the current Cornerstone Family Worship at Sixth and Church streets.

The council voted, 4-1, to set a combined $1.1 million budget for renovations for a new Tonganoxie City Hall and a new Tonganoxie Police Department. A new City Hall would go in the former U.S. Post Office on Fourth Street, while the police department would move into the former church.

The city purchased Tan Time, which moved into the former post office, for $53,700. The city still is looking at purchasing the church. Cornerstone officials recently gave the city permission to mention its initial asking price of $275,000 in its public meeting.

Some residents questioned whether that asking price was too high at the last meeting.

On Monday the council also voted, 4-1, to approve two bids for independent appraisers to assess the building’s value. Aul Appraisals of Lawrence had the low bid of $1,750. Bliss Appraisal of Kansas City, Mo. had the second-lowest bid.

Council Member Curtis Oroke asked why local appraisers weren’t on the list. City Administrator Nathan McCommon said he pursued appraisers outside of Tonganoxie to offer bids with a third-party view of the situation.

Council Member Jim Truesdell cast the opposing vote for both issues.

Resident Karen Seymour voiced concerns about the police department potentially being moved to a residential area. The church is situated in a neighborhood a block west of U.S. Highway 24-40.

Seymour pushed for the city to pursue the former elementary school on Fourth Street and keep the police station in the downtown area.

Mayor Jason Ward said that option has been evaluated but wasn’t deemed feasible.

Dennis Bixby, former Tonganoxie City Council member and current Leavenworth County commissioner, said he had concerns about narrow streets around the church, along with culvert drainage. He said that would mean more costs for the city.

Council Member Kara Reed, however, questioned whether those improvements were mandatory. McCommon said those were not requirements if the station were to move there.

Residents spoke about their concerns of the station relocating to a neighborhood and bringing with it increased traffic.

Police Chief Jeff Brandau contended that traffic likely would be reduced with a police department move to a repurposed church.

He said the church has its share of traffic daily and that the police station likely would have less traffic.

The current total project estimate for the two buildings from HTK Architects is $1.021 million, with the lion’s share being for the police station. HTK earmarked $200,000 for renovation costs and $30,000 for furniture at the new City Hall. The remaining budget basically is for the police station.

The city approved the $1.1 million budget for contingency planning, which would not require an increase in taxes to cover funding, according to city officials.

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