Conscientious volunteers

Citizens panel considers potential projects

By The Mercury

One might quibble about an item or two, but if the recent work of the city-university projects fund committee is any indication, the citizens who make recommendations for expenditures from that special fund take their volunteer roles seriously.

Because revenue for the fund comes from sales taxes and franchise fees generated on the Kansas State University campus, the fund, a provision of the city’s annexation of the university in 1994, exists to subsidize projects of benefit both to the university and the city. This week the committee dealt with a handful of projects worth more than $600,000.

The $248,000 that the committee recommended for improvements to Denison Avenue certainly is of mutual benefit. So are the $55,000 recommended for finishing the work on the intersection of Bluemont and North Manhattan avenues and the $52,000 to be spent a few blocks away, widening 17th Street from Laramie Street to just south of Anderson Avenue.

Also, spending $45,000 to restore brick pavers at Triangle Park also would seem an appropriate investment of the city-university projects fund.

The case for spending $218,000 to pave about 60 parking spaces in City Park and improving lighting, drainage and landscaping isn’t as strong, though it, too, has been recommended.

Dolly Gudder, the committee’s vice chair, objected to the parking spaces out of concern about their impact on green space in City Park. It’s a valid concern. Even in City Park, it’s easy to take green space for granted, and any losses of green space to parking have a way of becoming permanent. Unfortunately, without adequate parking, many residents who live too far from City Park to walk to it would be less able to enjoy its wonderful environment.

Another understandable objection to using city-university projects fund proceeds for parking in City Park came from committee member Bob Strawn. His concern was that while the improvements would clearly benefit the city, their value to the university is less apparent.

The benefits of the parking spaces in City Park were abundantly clear, however, to Megan Walden, a KSU student on the committee. “Of all the projects the students looked at, they were actually really excited about this one,” she said.

And little wonder. Parking in Aggieville is perpetually at a premium. City Park has long provided spillover parking for the patrons of that entertainment district, the overwhelming majority of whom are KSU students.

Unless they can’t abide more paved parking in City Park, it’s hard to imagine the City Commission, which has shown renewed interest in expenditures from this special fund, finding much fault with the committee’s work.

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