Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2004

City to begin plans for downtown area

April 22, 2004

With a desired location in mind for the city's future downtown district, it's time for members of the Basehor City Council to start thinking about specifics, Basehor city officials said.

"We know where," Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer said Monday night during a work session in which the issue of downtown was briefly discussed. "Now we need to know how and how much.

"This is something we're all willing to spend money on."

For the last 2 1/2 months, city officials have debated the development of a future downtown district. In each of those conversations, the majority of City Council members have indicated vacant lands near 155th Street as their preferred choice.

City Council members reaffirmed that preference last week during an all-day retreat at Cabela's. Monday night Scherer said he would direct city planners to begin forging a plan to bring the downtown proposal to life.

The mayor said city planners would begin work immediately on the 155th Street/downtown project by mapping different scenarios concerning streets and other infrastructure.

Scherer also said the city agrees with a report completed by a three-member committee, commissioned by the City Council to study the feasibility of a downtown district near 155th Street, which favored creating a "showpiece parkway," to compliment the downtown.

The envisioned parkway would begin at Falcon Lakes Drive in north Basehor and move south eventually connecting with 155th Street. The parkway would tie together all segments of the city and afford motorists easy access throughout Basehor, the committee contends.

City Council president Julian Espinoza, who last week was skeptical of the downtown proposal, said he believes the city's desired downtown can work on some levels.

"We think to some degree it's going to happen," Espinoza said. "Exactly to what extent we don't know yet. A lot is going to depend on what it's going to cost."

City Council member John Bonee, who spearheaded the three-member downtown committee, said the city is laying the groundwork now for its desired future. Without completing preliminary work now, the area will remain either dormant or develop unlike the city wants it to, he added.

"It may be 10 years but a lot of it depends on how we approach it," Bonee said.

"We've got a clean slate now and the idea is to take advantage of it now."

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