Officials look at US 24 corridor

By Bryan Richardson

Area officials wanted to take a deeper look Thursday into the growth in Blue Township/East U.S. Highway 24 corridor.

This topic came up during a presentation of Manhattan Area 2035, an update of the Manhattan Urban Area Comprehensive Plan and the Manhattan Area Transportation Strategy, during the joint city and Pottawatomie and Riley counties meeting.

Clarion Associates, the project’s lead consultant, led the group through its latest information.

Building a bridge connecting Junietta Road and Marlatt Avenue is among the options for consideration in Blue Township/East U.S. 24 corridor.

Ben Herman, a Clarion director, said this area provides the biggest opportunity and challenge for the community in developing in the future.

“The first thing you have to see is how people feel about that much growth in the area,” he said.

Herman said the options range from 1,200 homes to 10,000 homes over 20 years, depending on the community’s desires.

City commissioner Karen McCulloh said a price tag is needed for the conversation of growth in the area since a lot of work would be needed.

“So often, people think if we just get bigger, we get more money,” she said.

Herman said the company’s best estimate is more than $100 million of work associated with the Marlatt Avenue extension project.

“This is has been the single biggest topic of discussion in the last two days,” he said. “If that does happen, what’s the estimate?”

Pottawatomie County commissioner Pat Weixelman said the topic of annexation will be a tough topic, but the county will work with the city during this planning process.

“This might be the only people you have to herd people,” he said. “If that’s the case, we’ll work with you. We’ll take any advice into consideration as far as this growth.”

Nearly 80 people attended the three Manhattan Area 2035 workshops Wednesday.

Around 35 people each attended the Manhattan and the surrounding areas and U.S. 24 Corridor (Seth Child Road to county shops) workshops, and nine people attended the Blue Township and the East U.S. 24 Corridor workshop.

Clarion Associates gave presentations of maps featuring future alternative for land use options.

The attendees used electronic voting to provide feedback on their preferred options.

Blue Township/East U.S. 24 corridor: Attendees favored establishing a new roadway connection between Junietta Road and Marlatt Avenue.

West of campus: Attendees couldn’t come to a consensus among the options. The options focused on student housing opportunities and travel to Kansas State University.

Aggieville vicinity and east of campus: Attendees favored creating an urban core residential (greater than 100 dwelling units per acre) along North Manhattan Avenue across from campus for student housing.

Downtown: Attendees favored a map that focuses on redevelopment in the North 4th Street area. This option continues the talk of extending McCall Road.

West U.S. 24 corridor: Attendees favored options that consider commercial use of the area on a case-by-case basis or establishing one development area.

Alan Van Nahmen, who lives in the East U.S. 24 corridor, said Wednesday it’s essential to plan ahead for Manhattan’s future with community involvement.

“It’s also valuable to have the opportunity for any and every Manhattan citizen to come here and see what’s being talked about and considered,” he said.

Teresa Minton, who has lived in Manhattan for 30 years, expressed concern Wednesday about Manhattan losing its identity when all of the changes.

“The reason people love living in Manhattan is because it’s not Kansas City,” she said.

Minton said the city should be more careful regarding preservation of green space.

“It’s the focus on trying to grow, trying to make more money and building new things without redoing the old things and using those spaces,” she said.

Darcie White, a director with Clarion Associates, said it’s not about ramping up development, but about addressing the needs in a growing area.

Population projections from Clarion Associates show the planning area growing from 60,788 in 2012 to 80,678 in 2035.

The next group of workshops will happen Sept. 10 and 11.

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