At odds over ATA bus

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners disagreed Tuesday about whether to allow ATA Bus to place a bus stop in the 500 block of Leavenworth Street.

The issue was downtown parking. Commissioner Wynn Butler said he would vote against allowing the bus service to place a stop on the block because it would eliminate parking spaces. He said parking downtown was already a problem, and the stop should be moved to a location where it would not eliminate spaces for cars. Although Mayor John Matta voted with Butler, the other three commissioners overruled them and the bus stop was approved 3-2.

Also Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of real estate along 17th Avenue between Anderson and Laramie to be used for the widening of 17th Street.

Commissioners acted after discussing the purchase in executive session, reportedly at the request of the sellers. The land on one side of the street is owned by Kansas State University; the land on the other side is owned by the Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society.

City officials had sent letters to the property owners offering them what the city considered “just compensation” for the property. Those offers were rejected, and counter-offers were made. Commissioners did not stipulate the sale price, citing requests by the sellers to keep that information confidential. City manager Ron Fehr said the dollar amounts of each of the sale contracts would become public information once the contracts are signed.

Comprehensive plan

Commissioners unanimously approved a request to create a committee of stakeholders who will select a team of consultants to update the city’s comprehensive land use plan. That committee, to which Butler was appointed the city’s representative, will also oversee and approve the consultants’ work.

During the discussion, Butler noted the overall $335,000 cost of the update. That cost will be funded through the city/county half-cent sales tax and utility fees on water bills, with the city responsible for $285,000 of the total cost with Pottawatomie and Riley counties covering the remaining $50,000.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich said he wanted to make sure that K-State and possibly NBAF were represented in the stakeholders group.

Karen Davis, community development director for the city, said K-State was among 23 stakeholders during the last update in 2003.  She said they had already planned to invite K-State to join the committee again this year.

Jankovich also raised the idea of using the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s future land use plan for the transportation planning in order to eliminate duplication in planning. Davis said that was probably not possible because the MPO looked at transportation planning on a macro level, whereas the city would be looking at transportation planning on a micro level.

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