“Fieldhouse”
Posted: 22 January 2013 05:07 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Well, it appears a group is hinting they will be soliciting tax dollars for more recreational facilities.  A survey was distributed and the results are being reported to show positive interest in a new, large facility.  Respondents, reportedly, favor seeing the faciity supported by a combination of tax dollars and user fees.  $100,000 dollars is being solicited to just perform a feasibiity study.

1.  It is reported some dolars for the survey came from “the City”.  Were those dollars from the Parks & Rec Department?  Were those budgeted dollars?
2.  Who was solicited to respond to the survey?  Was the survey focused on people with children who would most use the proposed facility?  If they believe tax dollars would be required to build or operate the complex, were an equal number of surveys sent to folks with no children who will still be asked to pay more taxes to support it?
3.  Supposedly, this will be a “regional” facility.  Surveys were sent to folks in Wamego and other neighboring communities.  It is difficult for Manhattan to assess taxes in Wamego, St. Marys, Marysville, Junction City, etc. to pay for the construction and operation of a recreational complex.  If the facility is for regional use, wouldn’t it, therefore, be best to be privately owned and supported by user fees?  Otherwise, Manhattan taxpayers take the hit… while folks outside the City enjoy the benefit.
4.  This is being advertised as a “grass roots” project.  The intimation is that this is being supported by private funding.  How soon does this “grass roots” effort become a request to the City for funding?  How much of this “grass roots” effort will be buried deeply in a Parks & Rec budget, using tax dollars we are not aware of?
5.  Will this recreational complex become a major platform initiative of City Commission candidates?  Will those candidates having no fiscal conscience champion such an effort and those more fiscally conservative suggest this needs accomplished with private funding?
6.  It appears the Chamber and CVB are “on board”.  When will the puppet strings be jerked to get the City Commissioners in line?  So far, not one commissioner has shown any will to “make waves” with the Chamber hiearchy.  Will this simply be tagged as “infrastructure” and we see millions of sales tax dollars diverted to this project instead of paying down City debt?

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Posted: 22 January 2013 08:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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No city funds were used for the field house survey.  If a private company or groups can finance and make the project work, then fine.  At present I do not see the city budget being able to support something of this magnitude.  But as you suggest, if enough votes are present for the project (on the City Commission), it could come to fruition at tax expense.

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Posted: 22 January 2013 08:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The information I have…and I was not sent a survey…is that the proposed facility will be built in Leonardville.  That is just a rumor, but, as you well know, Larry, I am usually right.
I think it is interesting that this survey included all sorts of locales.  There was no breakdown of the votes by city.  Why wouldn’t people in Geary County favor a Rec facility to be paid for by Manhattan residents?
These people will not stop until they get their Marlin’s Center, one way or another.  You have to admire their perseverance. The voters turned them down and yet, they keep coming back.  Admirable, I think. Such chutzpah.  Ya gotta love em’.

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Posted: 22 January 2013 08:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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They should perhaps stop spending money on these surveys and just buy land and build their own facility. But of course, if you can get the taxpayers to fund it, more money left in your pocket at the end of the day.

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Posted: 22 January 2013 08:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The results of the survey are interesting.  You can draw whatever conclusions you want.  The largest percent of respondents say they make over $100,000/year.  Nice to know those making that kind of money are so willing to see taxes raised on those less fortunate.  The largest percent of respondents were female.  Most had kids in school.  So, soccer moms want the taxpayer to build a huge daycare center where they can drop off kids.  Nice!

It amazed me how many… something like 3/4 of the respondents said they would use the faciity 3 or 4 times/week.  Yet, no one knows where the facility would be located.  The respondents said they would drive 5-10 miles to use the facility.  Hmmm….  So, let’s put the facility east of St. George, about halfway between Manhattan and Wamego.  Or, let’s put the facility in Ogden.  Maybe we can find the 100 acres they want up by University Park…10 miles north of town.  How many would drive to one of those locations 3 to 4 times/week?  If located in the Ogden area, would all those respondents from Wamego or Junction City use it?  What about in the St. George area.  Junction City soccer moms will drive clear over here? 

Wynn, the press release stated that city funds WERE used to assist with the survey.  Was the press release in error?  Doesn’t the chair of the organization know where the money came from?

Michael, I think Leonardville would be a perfect location.  If they need 100 acres, they could buy up the entire town.  You could live in house and be their security… with your cats for assistance.

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Posted: 22 January 2013 09:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Where was it reported that city dollars were spent on the fieldhouse survey?  The survey that was sent to me via e-mail through the school district was a short online Survey Monkey type of survey that would cost nothing.  Gail Urban (member of fieldhouse committee) mentioned when she spoke to the school board in December that the group is using as a reference some sort of assessment that the city had done in 1999, which I suppose could be interpreted as using city money since the city paid for the assessment.  I also read in County Commission minutes that several months ago the county and the city were being asked to contribute $2,500 each toward the cost of a feasibility study.  I don’t know if any funding was agreed to.  The fieldhouse was on the January agenda of the Parks and Rec. Advisory Board, but I didn’t see that meeting and don’t know the outcome.

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Posted: 23 January 2013 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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“...using $10,000 of funding from the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, the city of Manhattan, and Riley County, as well as $10,000 of matching, in-­kind work from the Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau.”

The above is a direct cut & paste quote from Ms. Urban’s press release.  Perhaps my reading comprehension skills have been diminished with age.  Does it not say “the City of Manhattan”?

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Posted: 23 January 2013 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Which I mentioned above, was $2,500 requested as a contribution from the city for a feasibility study, and which is not the same thing as the online survey.  The online survey wasn’t very good, in my opinion, and didn’t ask sensible questions.

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Posted: 23 January 2013 08:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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“In December 2012, the Fieldhouse Project solicited survey responses throughout the Manhattan, Wamego and Junction City communities, using $10,000 of funding from the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, the city of Manhattan, and Riley County…”

For some reason, the press release states the survey was funded with the $10,000.  They are currently soliciting $100,000 in funds to perform the feasibility study.  Wynn says NO City funds were used for anything having to do with the project.  The press release says funds were used.  Probably doesn’t make any difference whether the funds were used for the survey, as stated, or to purchase trash cans for collecting the responses to the survey.  Were City funds used?  If so, why didn’t the Commissoner know?

Yes, Kathy, the survey was pretty bad… at least the reported results were.  The results tell the percent of respondents making over $100,000 and the percent of respondents from each community.  It doesn’t state the percent of respondents making over $100,000 and where they were located geographically.  Were all the high-dollar respondents from Manhattan?  Were all from Junction City?  The results state that a huge percent of respondents would use the facility 3 to 4 times/week.  Were all those suggesting they would use the facility that often from Manhattan?  Would respondents from other communities use it much less?  Wouldn’t the locatoin of the respondents who would use the facility most often be a key priority in determination of location?  Were the survey results reported to only reflect a desire for such a faciltiy, assuming that could be conveyed to local government as a need for taxpayer funding? 

The survey attempts to show how much the facility would be utilized by people living in our close region.  Yet, it is being sold as a means of generating visitor volume to Manhattan as people from afar fill hotel rooms and restaurants.  They want to sell memberships and the survey would suggest the facility will be available to those members.  Yet, if the facility is utilized for traveling soccer, baseball, track, and basketball teams… how much will the facility be tied up and not available to members?  Is this merely blowback from parents of kids belonging to private traveling teams… other than The Marlins?  The taxpayer has handed The Marlins a big new facility for their practice and swim meets.  Now, other parents want equal benefit for their kids.

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Posted: 23 January 2013 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Wow, now the feasibility study is going to cost $100,000?  Months ago, the study was listed as costing $20,000.  If, in fact, the amount the city contributed was $2,500, I would guess that department heads have the ability to make discretionary decisions to spend small amounts of money without consulting commissioners, assuming there’s an appropriate line item in the department budget.

I’ve certainly spent a lot of money over the years in other communities at youth sport events, and I don’t have a problem with studying whether it would make sense for Manhattan to try to capture some of those dollars.  I’ve spent quite a bit of money in Overland Park where the community built a large outdoor soccer complex.  As you mentioned, I’ve seen complaints that the largest soccer club in OP has claimed the majority of the fields for its practices and other soccer clubs and organizations are out of luck. 

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Posted: 23 January 2013 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Larry:  I looked at the city records and the Parks and Recreation department did invest 2500 dollars.  Here is the memo from last year on the topic:

DATE: June 20, 2012

SUBJECT: Recreation Facility Study – Grant Opportunity

An entity known as the Field House Committee (FHC) has formed in the
past several months to pursue options to develop additional recreational
facilities in Manhattan. As this FHC assembled, they contacted and
requested to include Park and Recreation Administration to assist in their
research.

FHC has applied for a grant from the Greater Manhattan Community
Foundation (GMCF) to update portions of the Facility Needs Assessment
and Indoor Facility Feasibility Study (2004).

The update has an estimated cost of $10,000. The GMCF has tentatively
awarded $5,000 contingent upon matches from Riley County and the City of
Manhattan in the amount of $2,500 each. Riley County approved their
portion on June 18th and the City plans to fund their match from the Special
Park and Recreation fund. The grant funds are to be awarded next Monday,
June 25th.

The information updated in this effort will allow FHC to measure what
citizens want for services, programs and facilities as they initiate fundraising
and funding options.

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Posted: 23 January 2013 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thanks, Wynn. 

So, the City hands tax dollars to a group wanting $30 million to build a new rec complex to perform their own “needs assessment”??!!??  And the City expected a complete and unbiased assessment delivered as a result of the money spent.  Nice.

The results of that survey OVERWHELMINGLY show “need” and OVERWHELMINGLY suggest tax dollars need to fund a portion of the project.  Will the Commission swallow that one hook, line, and sinker?  Or, will the Commissoin even have a say if the Chamber pulls the puppet strings and demands funding?  How soon will this “grass roots” group be before the Commission asking for tax dollars to fund a portion of the $100,000 feasibility study?

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Posted: 24 January 2013 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Larry:  I am not going to disagree on your comment.  I do not recall getting to vote on this expenditure, it was either buried deep in something that I did not see, it was a subset of one of the consent items or it was part of what is delegated to parks and recreation (so they had authority to spend).  In either case the memo was published in June of 2012, so the Commission was notified.  We did not do a good job of noticing the issue and raising a flag at that time.  The same can be said for the County Commission.    Any way the bottom line is that about 5K in County and City Money was used to support the Field House group.  The fact that these expenditures were made does not however lead to the conclusion that either the County or City government support more infusion of tax dollars.  I cannot speak for the County or any of the other Commissioners.  But this one is not my priority, would have rather seen that money go to any other number of projects – in this case even UFM.

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