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Area officials working out metro organization details

By Maura Wery

County officials said Thursday that progress is being made on details of the operation of the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

They said the focus during recent discussions among member entities has been to work out both the main agreement as well as fiscal responsibility and voting practices.

“There was quite a bit of discussion on voting methodology,” commissioner Dave Lewis said of a recent gathering. The issue seemed to be moving toward basing votes on the financial involvement of each participating body, with the city of Manhattan getting three of the nine votes, Junction City getting two and other entities having one each.

Lewis said discussions were continuing about exactly how many votes would be required to pass items. He said city officials had raised that question, the city being the lead agency in creation of the organization. Some city officials have expressed concern about the prospect that the city could be required to accept proposals that are not in its best interests.

“I talked with commissioner (Wynn) Butler and told him that we (Riley County) represent Manhattan too,” Lewis said.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh said the city “has no choice,” but to go forward with the organization, and that having more entities involved “in a wider area they get more people to pay for it.”

FEMA land purchase

A private citizen asked commissioners Thursday to buy or lease FEMA land in the Ady Addition that isn’t being used by Manhattan Regional Airport. The commission agreed that if the citizen is willing to dish out the money and it’s legal, that the county should go forward with the offer.

Noxious weed director Dennis Peterson said that the citizen contacted him about purchasing or leasing the land, which was changed from a residential deed to FEMA purchased land after a flood. With the new construction of K-18 there is now a question whether that deed would be changed and if it is, what kind of hoops will the county have to go through to sell the property.

Another issue is what could be placed on the land. The inquirer wants to use the land for gardening purposes.

The commission instructed Peterson to look more into the motion and McCulloh said that “if someone wants to make the property useable land,” to go ahead with the offer.

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