Ty Warner, head of the Flint Hills Regional Council since that body was created three years ago, has resigned his position to take a job as director of a regional planning organization in Indiana.
Warner’s pending departure was revealed by commissioner Karen McCulloh Thursday during the Riley County Commission’s discussion of a draft agreement for the new Metropolitan Planning Organization. In his resignation letter, Warner said that despite uncertainty over the council’s role with respect to the MPO he had not been actively looking for a new position. He said he had been recruited by Indiana, and would be leaving here Dec. 28.
The regional council was created to foster communication and planning among various cities and counties in central Kansas. The MPO was created last month at the demand of federal officials to facilitate prioritization of transportation issues. City of Manhattan officials drew boundaries for the MPO that encompass Manhattan, Riley County, Fort Riley, and areas nearby, all of which are also represented on the regional council.
County officials said they were concerned about a lack of information in the MPO agreement regarding the council’s role. County counselor Clancy Holeman said he found no information in the MPO regarding whether the regional council would even have a role. He and McCulloh found that problematic, with McCulloh asserting that the MPO would have to be changed in order to keep the regional council involved.
“We can’t look for a new director (for the Flint Hills Regional Council) until we get this fixed,” McCulloh said.
The MPO agreement was based on one used by Lawrence’s Regional Planning Organization.
Holeman also questioned inclusion of a paragraph making the MPO a policy-making entity rather than one used for planning purposes. “I would just rather have this paragraph deleted,” Holeman said.
Holeman and county commissioners hope to meet with representatives of the MPO to talk about the changes that would need to be made for the agreement to work better within the county and overall, and also to seek ways to keep the Flint Hills Regional Council alive within the MPO.
“I know it’s just an initial agreement,” Holeman said. “It’s just something we need to watch for.”