Cabin status tabled over accessibility

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners tabled consideration of historical status for a 1930s cabin here Tuesday.

The tabling action passed 3-2 with commissioners Usha Reddi and Karen McCulloh opposed.  At issue is whether to endorse efforts to add the Bluemont Youth Cabin to the national register of historical sites.

Commissioner Wynn Butler proposed tabling the item to get answers on two questions Butler considers fundamental. Butler wanted to know what the unintended consequences were if the building was put on the registry, and he wanted to know whether there were any community members interested in using the building, and what those uses would be.

The Bluemont Youth Cabin was constructed at the base of Bluemont Hill in the late 1930s for use as a Boy Scout meeting place, but has not been used for several decades. In recent years development of both Goodnow Park and the city water plant have encroached on the site.

Butler said he saw the building as a liability rather than an asset to the city because the structure was not handicapped-accessible, and making it accessible would require too much money. That would mean that even if the building was put on the registry, it could not be used.

The Kansas Historical Society requested the designation, which would allow the cabin to apply for tax credits and grants for the necessary improvement projects.

Mayor John Matta and Commissioner Rich Jankovich voted with Butler to table the item until staff could look into the two concerns. McCulloh said she didn’t think the use or limitations on structural changes were greater concerns, and said both could be addressed after sending in the request to have it put on the registry.

Also Tuesday, commissioners unanimously passed updates to the existing water conservation ordinance. In doing so, they also directed staff to allow the city to collect fines imposed during periods of rationing through water rate collections rather than forcing the cases through the municipal court. They also want staff to suggest what the fines would be.

The updates include changing the drought response plan to include three stages. The current plan has only one stage. The three stages include a water watch stage, a water warning stage and a water emergency stage. The first requires only voluntary rationing of water, but the second two would require rationing. During the second two stages water restrictions would include mandatory odd/even lawn watering days, golf course watering restrictions and limiting or restricting water uses that are considered nonessential. Those include washing cars, watering lawns and filling containers outside with water.

Commissioners agreed they would prefer the city impose higher water rates for over-consumption with the ability to shut off water to repeat offenders during the emergency water stage. Commissioners said they will review the rate proposal at the second reading of the updates.

In other business Tuesday, Butler and Matta both voted against creation of a no parking zone along the north side of Central Park Road in City Park and against creation of a no parking zone along the south side of the 500 block of Leavenworth Street. The change on Leavenworth was designed to accommodate the addition of an ATA bus stop.

Butler said he opposed losing parking near the post office on Leavenworth for the bus stop because parking was already limited downtown, and he thought the stops were supposed to not interfere with the flow of traffic or parking.

Butler and Matta viewed the no parking zone in the park as a problem because it was next to the baseball fields where people park their vehicles frequently. Creation of the park no parking zone is designed to facilitate creation of a bicycle path. The two items passed by a 3-2 vote. All other consent agenda items passed unanimously as well as a development agreement with McDonald’s on Third Street to make changes to the curbs on Bluemont Avenue and Fourth Street and to move a sewer line to allow McDonald’s to build a new building on the corner of Fourth Street and Bluemont Avenue. The agreement will create a special quarter-cent sales tax at that McDonald’s for the next 12 years to pay for the changes.









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