Business owners on N. Third Street want upgrades

By The Mercury

North Third Street business owners on Tuesday advocated finishing development of their end of the road .

Russ Weisbender, owner of Overlay Properties, described businesses on his property in the area as being “slowly strangled out of business” because of limited access to get to them.

During public comment at a city commission meeting, he said he recently found out there aren’t plans for extending McCall Road across Tuttle Creek Boulevard.

“I hate to be a crybaby, but those of us who have businesses on that end of the street have waited very patiently, and now this is kind of a slap in the face,” Weisbender said.

Jason Hilgers, deputy city manager, said the McCall connection has been a topic of conversation since 2005-06, but the total estimated cost is around $9 million.

“It is on the shelf,” he said. “It is at a point where continuously staff is analyzing that to see if it’s time to bring it back forward.

Hilgers said the cost is driven up by land acquisition, which is $7 million.

“The acquisition cost has been a hurdle,” he said.

Hilgers said the intersection of Bluemont Avenue and Tuttle Creek Boulevard is the driving force for the McCall connection.

Hilgers said the Kansas Department of Transportation and city staff have talked about the Bluemont, Tuttle Creek and McCall intersections “failing” as the trigger for improvement.

Mike Hufnagel, owner of the Dairy Queen on North Third Street, said he considers North Third Street a forgotten area of Manhattan.

“We look like a slum,” he said. “The city has not spent any money on that area.”

Hufnagel said his restaurant has been in the same building for 60 years.

He said the corporate office has been pressuring him to build a new facility, but he’s been holding off from improvements because of the area’s lack of improvment.

“Time is of the essence if we’re going to survive,” Hufnagel said.

“I’ve put them on hold for the last seven or eight years. There’s going to come a time when they say, ‘You either relocate or close up.’ Is that what you want?”

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