City, county agree to work on parking, courts, EMS

By Corene Brisendine

City and Riley County officials agreed Thursday to work together on parking, EMS and security for the courts.

Those steps will include transferring the municipal parking lot on the corner of Fifth Street and Humboldt Street to the county. County Commission chair Dave Lewis asked the city to do that, and also to work with the county on housing ambulances until the county can resolve space concerns at the current EMS facility, which county officials say is too small.

Lewis also asked the city to work with the county to find a more feasible solution to securing the courts, which could cost $600,000 a year, not including equipment.

As for the parking lot, Lewis said the county recently purchased the private lot adjacent to the city-owned lot. Both lots are across the street from the county offices and courthouse.

Mayor John Matta directed city manager Ron Fehr to work with county officials to transfer the municipal lot to the county. The lot is already used by county workers and area citizens who conduct business at the court house.

City commissioner Wynn Butler said the best way to handle the EMS facility inadequacies was to house ambulances at the fire stations. Lewis suggested the county build a new building that would be big enough to house the staff and ambulances in one location. But Butler questioned that approach.

“I’m really fearful what the price tag is going to be (on a new EMS facility,)” Butler said. “Property owners are going to foot the lion’s share of the bill.”

City commissioner Karen McCulloh agreed with Butler that the fire stations are already set up to house the buses, making that approach the best solution for the county. She added that response times would also be decreased.

City commissioners agreed with the county that they should seek to combine the courts in a single secured facility. The most prevalent suggestion was to build a new court house. City and county commissioners agreed to create a task force that would work up options and present those findings to the commissioners at a later date. The task force would be made up of city and county officials.

Butler asked the city and county to work together on finding the best use of the Community Building. He suggested remodeling it into offices for social service agencies . He said the city currently gives CASA and Kansas Legal Services money to pay for rent. If those agencies could be housed under one roof, he said the city could save money.

Eric Cattell, assistant director for planning, updated commissioners on the progress of the Manhattan Urban Area Comprehensive Plan. Cattell said a Project Advisory Committee should be chosen by the middle of October. The 22 member board will be made up of city and county officials as well as specific interest groups and citizens-at-large. 

Cattell said he thought the plan will take 18 to 24 months to complete.

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