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Peace Memorial Auditorium
Posted: 18 July 2013 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The city has plans to renovate Peace Memorial Auditorium and relocate the Parks and Rec offices to the space where the raised seating is currently located and tear out the stage to add more basketball courts.  Peace Memorial Auditorium was constructed as a living memorial to World War II veterans and to those who lost their lives, i.e. the auditorium is the memorial.  The city has scheduled a public input session regarding the plans for the auditorium, and the memo about the meeting notes that “Peace Memorial Auditorium will remain intact.”  If the raised seating and the stage are going to be removed, which are the major components of a space being an auditorium, how exactly is it that the “auditorium will remain intact”?

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Posted: 18 July 2013 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The city staff has spent a number of months trying to figure a solution to a couple of issues.  One is the renovation of the Auditorium and second is the new location for parks and recreation.  The original concept for the Peace Auditorium apparently included office space and even a kitchen.  As a Living Memorial the Peace Auditorium was maybe intended to evolve through time.  The facts on the renovation are that the Auditorium – defined as the building not the stage, will in fact remain intact.  What will happen is:
1.  The basketball courts will be doubled in size.
2.  The stage will be eliminated.
3.  The fixed bleachers will become office space.
4.  The facility will be upgraded in terms of heating and AC.
5.  The dedication marker on the wall in the auditorium will not be disturbed.
This project continues the use of the Auditorium as a true living memorial (changing and adapting to the times).  Parks and Recreation needs space (they are in a 30 year old renovated garage), additional basketball space is needed and the stage is only used twice a year.  The solution proposed by the City Staff on renovation of the auditorium continues the legacy of the living memorial and makes best use of city assets for the benefit of the community.
When the project is completed a rededication of the Peace Memorial Auditorium is envisioned, to ensure that the Veterans of WWII are not forgotten. 

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Posted: 18 July 2013 09:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Ah, yes, this seems to be the city’s line put out in the memo about the public information and input session.

During the “number of months” that city staff has been working on solutions, there was never any mention in the information provided to commissioners or to the public that the auditorium is a memorial.  An auditorium is just an empty box of a building? Really?  I can’t say that I’ve ever seen an auditorium that didn’t have a stage.  Memorial Stadium is another living memorial, and at one time, KSU considered replacing it with a parking lot.  If the stadium walls, seating, the football field, and the track had been removed and paved over, I think it would be pretty tough to claim that the stadium and the memorial were still intact and had simply adapted, but that seems to be the argument you are attempting to make.

No argument that Parks and Rec needs better office space, but since it’s been in the current location for 30 years or so, what’s the rush now to shove things through without more community discussion? 

Mr. Hilgers was quoted in the Topeka Capital-Journal as saying there are a number of other stages in town.  Following his same logic, aren’t there plenty of gyms/basketball courts in town in schools and churches?  Why do we need more basketball courts? I’d like to know how much money, if any, the city is spending to use KSU’s stages.

The plaque is not the memorial.  The auditorium is the memorial, and tearing out the raised seating and the stage makes the space no longer an auditorium and destroys the memorial.  I’m sure you understand that, and someone has concocted a story about changing and adapting to make it sound like the memorial isn’t being destroyed.  I hope that the upcoming information and input session really intends to listen to and gather public input, but I fear it will be more the case of “here’s what we’re going to do, and now tell us how much you like it,” and that will be a shame.

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Posted: 19 July 2013 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Kathy,
They are saying the same about the boy scout cabin. It could easily make the register, and that is what some commissioners don’t want.  They claimed that it was tabled because they wanted to find out more what that would mean.  They know what it means and that is why it was tabled.  It means that they can’t tear it down easily, which is what they want to do.
Our past experience with Parks and Rec indicate they should probably be located somewhere near the jail.  It would save the cops some gas.

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Posted: 19 July 2013 05:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Michael:  A bit harsh about the Parks and Recreation Staff.  I do agree with your comment on the table of the historic register application for the cabin in some aspects. 

Many people just think that putting the building on the register is no big deal.  In fact some have said the City staff has not wanted to put buildings on the register.  The reason is the perceived issue that whenever any of those buildings are considered for renovation, modification or demolition, obstacles are placed in the desired path.  I share that perception based on the demolition requests that were placed before commission vote over the past few years.

Fortunately the rules have changed a bit and the proximity rule to a historic structure is no longer an immediate issue.  I understand that some folks in the community would like us to enact a local environs ordinance.  I was particularly against the provisions of the environs aspect when it was used to potentially block the removal of a building next the MCC because it was within 500 feet of the oil derrick designed historic radio tower at KSU.  That and the opposition to the Church desire to demolish the old Emergency Shelter Building are two solid examples of why staff and others are leery of possible unintended consequences.  The Depot once it was on the register ended up getting renovated and is used to some extent.  But the floor may be in dire need of major repair and becoming a maintenance issue, involving substantial cost.  At this point I doubt that anyone would recommend demolition of that structure. 

I believe that if we put this structure on the historic register it sends the implied message that the building will be maintained and supported by the city - much like the Depot.  The dominos began falling with consequences that are unknown.  That is the reason that I would prefer that we determine the long term goal or use of the asset/liability, before we go forward.  I would not want anyone to draw incorrect conclusions.  If we support the historic application then that implies that we will maintain and resurrect the building.

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Posted: 19 July 2013 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I like the spin on the definition of auditorium.  The online dictionary states it is the part of a public building were an audience sits.  Folks can have fun with definitions.  But the issue is not about definitions.

The second point is the fact that the facility is the history of the building.  The Peace Auditorium was designed as a living memorial.  Again we can have fun with definitions.  Her is one from answers.com - Wars are commemorated by an immense variety of devices—obelisks, monoliths, marble temples, battlefields and battle markers, statues, cemeteries, tombs, memorial chapels and parks, plaques and walls bearing the names of the dead, place names, and “living memorials”—including hospitals, stadiums, and highways.

Original designs for the auditorium included office space and even a kitchen.  The renovation plan was passed on a 4-1 vote with the caveat that the staff and legal office verify that the plan did not violate the original intent and would not run afoul of any legal proceedings.  Upon completion of the renovation the building will be rededicated as the Peace Auditorium.  The original plaque/marker will not be disturbed.

To briefly sum up the renovation project.  The renovation will provide the following benefits:

1.  An Air Conditioned Facility.
2.  A second basketball court.
3.  Consolidate parks and recreation staff office.
4.  Enhance customer service (one stop shopping)
5.  Reduce City staff - staff reduction due to consolidation of customer service will fund part of the renovation.
6.  The current parks and rec office is substandard.
7.  The locker area will be improved.

The one drawback is the removal of the stage.  No one was concerned about the stage until it was determined to remove the structure.  Data indicates that the use of the stage would be significantly less than the second basketball court.  The basketball courts can of course still be used for other purpose.  We use the basketball court at Barton for graduation - it does not have a stage.  I can see events like graduations still taking place in the renovated facility as it will have mobile bleachers.  If an elevated platform is desired a portable one can always be put in place and maybe something of that nature can be added to the design.  But I would exclude the addition of a fixed stage platform or structure. The removal of the stage eliminates the possibility of a production - play, but does not exclude other uses. 

This project was already approved by the commission on a 4-1 vote.  I 100% support the project.  The city staff did an excellent job on this one.  They were given a mission of upgrading the auditorium, consolidating city staff, consolidating customer service and doing it within a very limited budget.

I try to be clear on priorities.  For Parks and Recreation the first two years, we kicked the can down the road on the office space.  This year that project was number one.  It was just time to get it done.  The staff combined that project with the auditorium renovation resulting in the ability to make the change without adding more city debt.  This project in order of priority does the following:  1. improves the working conditions of the Parks and Recreation staff. 2.  Significantly improves customer service.  3.  Provides the best return to the tax payer, this is a budget winner. 4. Reacts to data that indicates that court space is desired above stage space.

While I understand the possible or potential use of the stage, in order of priority it would be 5 on the list above.  That is why I voted with three other commissioners to continue with this project. Without the parks and recreation office inclusion I would not support spending dollars to renovate the auditorium.  In other words without the offices the building might remain without AC and would only be used a couple of times a year.

I will continue to support this project as it currently stands; it was 18 months in development.  The issue of a stage, the need for a stage, the cost, location etc is something for the Parks and Recreation board to consider as a future CIP project, but not something that should impact the current plan.

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Posted: 19 July 2013 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Wynn,
I suppose you might argue that tearing down an historical building would simply be another way of honoring its existence.  Now, it becomes a “Veterans Memorial Parking Lot”.
A simple evolution, right?
Alter them, destroy them , and claim that it is a natural evolution of the same concept around which they were built.  Just leave a little plaque there and it is all OK.
Now, I am not a rabid preservationist who believes that just because it is old means that it is valuable…or important. For example, I wouldn’t care if they dismantled the Strasser house.  It has no significance, historically, or architecturally…it is just an old stone house in the middle of a strip mall.  It looks stupid.
However, there are structures in this city that do meet those criteria, and to take a position that all old structures are simply an inconvenience to the city, is a mistake.
Now, what about that stupid, ugly statue in the city park? I would suggest that it be torn down.  What do you think about that idea?...and…explain to me why that atrocity should stand and the boy scout cabin should be torn down. You might argue that the ugly statue is an historical landmark. If you want to argue that, then you will have to explain why these other structures are not.

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Posted: 20 July 2013 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Mr. Butler, too many issues to try to address in a short reply.  Maybe you should just have coffee with Commissioner Sherow and allow him to inform you about historic registry listing.

The depot has been on the state register since 1979, so it’s a bit of a stretch to say that its registry listing led to its being renovated.  But, since it is on the register, a project to repair the floor would be eligible for rehabilitation tax credits or other funding opportunities that are available to registered properties.  Before you pooh-pooh rehabilitation tax credits, a study was done on the tax credit program a couple of years ago and found that for every rehabilitation tax dollar invested, the return on the investment to the state is over four times that amount.

The environs law has been eliminated, so your concerns about the environs aspect of the state preservation statute should be alleviated.  The house near MCC is still sitting there rotting.  Why is that?

I guess I missed where improving the Paks and Rec offices was number one in the city commission’s goal setting for 2013.  Maybe I need to look further back.  Was it number one for 2012?  2011?

I’ve also heard that Parks and Rec has been paying KSU to use the stage in Nichols.  I would like to know if that’s fact or rumor, so maybe you could let us all know.

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Posted: 20 July 2013 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Kathy,
I wonder if they are handling the concessions at Nichols? That has been a profitable enterprise for some of that bunch in the past.
Wynn understands the implications of a register listing.  He is just playing dumb.

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Posted: 20 July 2013 07:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Michael:
I guess you mean the Johnny Kaw statue?  If it ever requires major repair it might make the demolition list.  The other house you mentioned could use destruction.  You called the Cabin a Boys Scout hut and I think it was used for that purpose in the past.  As an Eagle Scout I would like to see BSA use the building, but I doubt they can afford the cost of fixing it.  On the issue of the cabin the options are simple.  First determine what we are going to do with the building, lease it, tear it down or use as a trail head.  If option three is picked then it can go on the registry, but with the understanding that it will not be put back into prime condition by the city.  If the first option becomes a reality the person or group that leases it can put it on the registry with our support.  In the case of the middle option, well it will be gone and the registry will not matter.

I am also not taking the position that all old or historic structures in the city are of no value.  Each one will have to be examined.  My take is that they are all property.  As property they can either be a liability or an asset.  I want to limit the liability column and increase the asset column.  That is what is being done in the cause of the Peace Auditorium and the Cabin. 

Kathy:

You are correct that I am not impressed with the end result of historic tax credits from the standpoint of the city.  They seem to make sense for a private individual, but the credits are not of the same value for a government agency.  I get the studies; they always prove a great return.  But you never see that on your property tax bill and the city debt is still 373 million. 

I used the depot to illustrate the point of the domino effect.  Once you get it on the register and the government takes it over it becomes a liability in the maintenance column.  It can also become an asset through use by the community and generate some rental income for parties etc.  It does have some intangible aesthetic value.  The city should break at least even on the Depot.  And of course if we can get some gain, no matter how small, from the tax credit concept on fixing the Depot floor it will be used to the greatest extent possible.
I have already explained the logic for the Auditorium renovation.  The gains outweigh the loss of the stage.  Simple cost benefits analysis. 
You are correct that I am particularly pleased about the demise of the environs law.  The environs law provisions provided undo infringement on personal property rights.  The house near MCC is doing exactly what the private property owner wishes to do with it.  It will eventually become a parking lot.

As for the goals that the commission discussed for 2013 they are on the city web site.  The goals are all general and nonspecific.  So they do not say the parks and recreation building is number one priority.  That is because the goals are a blend of stuff from the desires of the past commission.  The parks and rec office plan however fits under the budget goals as a subset of -  Provide clear and concise financial planning and management of city debt .  The goals also do not include anything specific about the Cabin or any other historic property. 
The Parks and Recreation staff manages a very large share of the cities assets.  Their operations cover everything from pools to the zoo to a vast collection of recreation programs.  The office facility for parks and rec is in a nut shell a travesty.  So if we make a list of offices that need to be improved or fixed, this one is a priority. 

I do not know if the Parks and Recreation office is paying to use Nichols Gym,  they operate many different programs and I am not aware of the details for all of them.  Will inquire and see if we can save some money by not renting a stage, if that is the case. 

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Posted: 20 July 2013 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Wynn,
“the city should break at least even on the depot”. (I won’t comment on the split infinitive).  Will you apply that same standard to the Discovery Center? If it doesn’t support itself, then tear it down?...or, is that atrocity an exception
to the “stand on your own feet” rule?
Seems funny to me that certain properties must show a profit, and that others get a free ride from the city. Might I cite downtown? For years, the city has thrown money to the downtown area.  Nothing has worked.
So, using your philosophy, tear it down…bulldoze the entire non-profitable mess.  You seem to enjoy parking lots.  That would make a nice big one.

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Posted: 20 July 2013 09:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Michael:  The goal is to make everything profitable or at least not cause the taxpayer to go into the negative column.  Breaking even is the minimum goal.  Making a profit and helping out the folks that pay taxes is the goal.  I did not build the Discover Center.  At present it is at least not a property tax burden as we are financing the subsidy through the bed tax.  That is as good as it is going to get at present.  You need to clarify the downtown project comment   DMI wanted an improvement on our main street.  That has taken place, but was well done.  It included a needed water main upgrade.  That project like the Auditorium project integrated a number of needed items.  You do not understand my philosophy and that is fine; as you are not eligible to vote in Manhattan.

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Posted: 20 July 2013 10:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Wynn,
Don’t bullshit a bullshitter.
Clarify my remarks about downtown?  Are you serious?
OK, we can go back to the mall.  That was going to revitalize the downtown…BEEP!...The redevelopment…that was going to revitalize the downtown…OOPS…Now, we are going to plant new trees…I am certain that will do the trick.
You did not answer my question…you avoided it, and threw up a little straw man/red herring/ ad hominem about my voting history.  That of course, is irrelevant to what I have to say.
I choose not to vote because I do not want to be an enabler. That does not make me stupid, as you imply. It simply means that I find the process futile. Even if I were a voter, I would have no influence over your pre-concieved notions about the role of self-important little public officials.
To paraphrase John Kennedy (actually Ted Sorenson…Kennedy never had an original thought)...“Those who foolishly seek power by riding the back of the tiger, end up inside”.
Now, you play your little austerity games, wag your little tail, and a lot of people will love you for that, BUT, you should try to be consistent.  Your defense of the Discovery Center is, not only inconsistent, it is a pathetic diversion from your stated philosophy.
And, Good luck on tearing down Johnny Kaw. Not even Sneadly Whiplash would try that.
Oh, by the way, why do you even bother talking to me when I am not “A Vote”?

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Posted: 21 July 2013 07:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I am not advocating tearing down John Kaw as the statue is not a problem.  I thought you were for removing it or maybe putting it on the historic register.  The history of the statue is interesting.  I think when it was built some folks thought it would be a tourist attraction.  It has much in common with the Discovery Center that you mention, but cost a lot less.  The point on both of these structures is that we cannot turn back the clock.  They are present, same for the mall.  So all we can do is limit the direct cost to homeowners by figuring out the best way to fund.  The work on downtown is more than just trees.  The water main improvement would have wrecked the trees on one side, and the side walk.  That project, like the auditorium renovation covers more than one base.  I am not concerned about it you vote or not.  My point was that you are not able to vote in the city and most of these issues do not apply to your property tax bill.  So it is interesting that you even care about the topics.

I never saw myself as the Defender of the Discovery Center or any of the redevelopment efforts starting as far back as the mall.  I had little if any impact on those projects other than the singular vote I could cast during the elections.  The mall and DC were completed or well on the way to completion before my short time on the Commission.  They all exist now so it is necessary to make the best of the situation.

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Posted: 21 July 2013 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Let me tell you something Wynn.
These old buildings that you want to demolish or degrade were also here LONG before you were on the commission, or, in some cases, even born.
My question is why don’t you apply the same standards to them.  The downtown, as we all know, is a losing proposition.  There is but one way to revitalize it.  Get rid of the retail stores and make it an entertainment district, with a theatre, outdoor cafes and street vendors, and…lots of bars.  Of course that would interfere with the grand plan for the Yuma Project on the south side. Ironic, isn’t it, that the south redevelopment was supposed to revitalize the downtown, but instead diverts people away from the downtown…if it does anything save for sapping money.
So we have the north redevelopment…which also was to save downtown…then the south redevelopment, which also was to save the downtown…one is a giant strip mall, the other, a hotel thingy…and the downtown is still sitting there like an island between these two entities.
I first moved to Manhattan in 1974.  One of the major issues was revitalizing the downtown.  Many tried, and all failed. Almost forty years later and the city is still throwing good money after bad.  Why?
I don’t have the foggiest of notions. The only successful businesses that I remember in the downtown area were some red neck bars and an upscale gift shop whose branch in Aggieville did more business than the downtown store, both of which were driven out of business by the mall, which again was designed to revitalize the downtown.  From what I have seen and heard, the mall is having enough trouble vitalizing itself.
All the while, you sit and fret that the Parks and Rec people don’t have posh offices, and you set out to bludgeon a little boy scout cabin and an historic landmark.
Say, why not put Parks and Rec in the boy scout cabin? Now, THAT is an idea worth considering.

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Posted: 21 July 2013 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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The Scout cabin will NOT make it to the registration list.  And, no matter how it’s parlayed to the public, the auditorium will be wrecked out for the Parks & Rec offices.  It’s simple math….

This commission will be split on many issues.  Matta and Butler won’t ever, as long as their terms in office run, for any building being put on a protected registration list.  Those registries are “liberal hogwash” and the owner of property should well be able to rip and tear as they see fit.  The two ladies will vote to put anything requested on the registry.  They wouldn’t have an issue with including the entire Downtown on such a registry.  So, as with many issues, Jankovich will be the swing vote.  Rich asked for the tabling to give him a chance to weigh where the Chamber stands.  The Chamber still is upset over the City not allowing “God, disguised as Dial Realty,” to tear down the stone house along 4th Street.  So, Jankovich will vote to keep other properties off the registry so as to not interfere with the Chamber’s economic development tax dollar giveaway programs.

We will see the same scenario re the Memorial Auditorium.  For Matta and Butler, to preserve the Auditorium would be siding with the liberal contingency.  Can’t have that happen.  Both ladies will try to get the City to rethink and save the Auditorium, even though it won’t be used in the next 100 years.  If this comes back for a vote, it’ll pass in a heartbeat due to Jankovich’s close ties to Parks & Rec.  He really wants his buddies that keep giving The Marlins free swim time and those who are campaigning for The Fieldhouse plush new offices. 

Kathy and Michael, does no good to argue either case with Wynn.  His mind is set.  You won’t change it.  Wynn is looking at things from the fiscal side and feels that is keeping with his campaign promises.  If you want to convince anyone, take your arguments to Jankovich.  Rich is the swing vote and the one who will actually decide which way most of the important issues this commission deals with will be settled.

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