Archive for Thursday, December 11, 2003

But they’ll take it

They hoped for more but city, Falcon Lakes pleased

December 11, 2003

After months of debate among developers, city officials and transportation representatives, the Kansas Department of Transportation has softened its previous stance and decided to reopen Falcon Lakes Parkway.

Falcon Lakes Parkway is the primary access road serving the Falcon Lakes residential development, golf course and restaurant on Kansas Highway 7, north of Leavenworth Road.

The department of transportation ordered the road barricaded months ago, an act that stymied development inside Falcon Lakes, developers and city officials contended. The closure of Falcon Lakes Parkway came after the department of transportation gave developers the go-ahead to build the $1.4 million roadway.

In a written release this month, department of transportation secretary Deb Miller said "a right-in/right-out intersection at Falcon Lakes Parkway will be permitted.

"KDOT will also be constructing improvements to K-7 to provide a deceleration lane for left turn improvements somewhere in the vicinity."

Falcon Lakes owner Rustom Ferzandi said he's pleased his development will be allowed at least partial access to Falcon Lakes Parkway.

"What we really wanted was a full turning lane," Ferzandi said. "The right in, right out is definitely welcome. It's better than not having anything, and it'll show the public we're open for business."

No matter how limited, by regaining access to Falcon Lakes Parkway, the development owner said he expects home sales and restaurant business to be "much, much, much better."

The highway improvements for a deceleration lane for left turns on K-7 that Miller referred to will be at Hollingsworth Road, the primary entrance into Falcon Lakes for motorists coming from the south.

Ferzandi said he is paying the engineering costs for the left-turn improvements, but the department of transportation will be responsible for implementing the improvements.

"To me, with both happening simultaneously, it will help development and improve safety for the public," he said.

Mike Hooper, Basehor city codes administrator, said the city is still working toward a plan that would provide full access at Falcon Lakes Parkway. To accomplish this, an agreement would have to be in place between Basehor, the department of transportation and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.

Unified Government has plans underway to improve Donohoo Road to connect with a planned interchange with Interstate 435.

The city and Rustom Ferzandi aren't alone in seeking full access to the highway from Falcon Lakes Parkway.

Another development, the Zarda Center, an 80-acre commercial and business area, is proposing to build just east of Falcon Lakes. Zarda Center developer Tom Zarda has repeatedly told city officials he wouldn't pursue his development further without access to the road.

"He still wants the full use of the intersection," Hooper said.

Allowing the limited access at Falcon Lakes Parkway is a change in policy for the department of transportation. In an August meeting between city and transportation officials, legal counsel for the department of transportation told city officials they were considering beginning condemnation proceedings for the road.

"What you have to understand is we have larger concerns than (just Falcon Lakes)," state attorney Tim Orrick told city officials in August.

"We can't allow this one decision to drive our thinking for the whole corridor."

The department of transportation's decision comes after a meeting in November regarding the K-7 corridor. During the meeting, Miller said a decision concerning Falcon Lakes Parkway would happen soon.

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