Archive for Wednesday, March 2, 2005

City officials withdraw from state grant — again

March 2, 2005

For the second time in recent years, the Kansas Department of Transportation awarded the city of Basehor a grant for street construction. For the second time in recent years, the city of Basehor has withdrawn acceptance of that state money.

During a telephone poll Feb. 18, the City Council voted, 4-1, to withdraw from a state grant that would have paid approximately $1 million toward the construction of a frontage road between 155th and 158th Streets.

In some capacity, the city would have had to match the state's $971,000 grant with approximately $428,000 to meet the $1.4 million construction cost of building the frontage road.

The City Council based its decision on a Feb. 14 meeting in which six people told council members they were opposed to the city acquiring the grant money. Those six people ranged from Basehor residents to property owners developing land near 155th and 158th Streets.

Some in opposition, such as Dennis and Debbie Breuer, owners of the Basehor Town Square and Pinehurst developments, told council members it was not fair for the city to participate in the construction of a frontage road that would "give" other developers a frontage road while some others had to pay for their own.

Joe Nick, Sr., a candidate for Basehor mayor, agreed with the Breuers and said that property owners benefiting from the frontage road should have to pay for it.

Others such as Planning Commission member George Smith, Donald Dyster of Basehor Cabinet Shop and Ed McIntosh, developer of Wolf Creek Junction, told the City Council that money could be better spent on improvements to 147th Street rather than the frontage road.

Basehor City Council president Julian Espinoza was the lone vote of opposition in rejecting the transportation grant.

Espinoza said he felt the frontage road would be a good economic development tool for the city and that municipal participation would be minimal because the original plan was to acquire the matching $428,000 from property owners that would benefit from the frontage road.

"It was never our intention that the city was going to subsidize that," Espinoza said.

He added, "That's why I thought this was such a good deal."

The council president also said that he fears now, on the heels of two withdrawals from state grants, that the transportation department will avoid the city when considering applications for future grants.

In 2003, the city rejected a state grant for approximately $600,000 that would have paid for repairs to 158th Street because it could not acquire the matching funds.

"My biggest concern is that we've already turned down one grant from the state," Espinoza said. "To me, if we turn this down, what's the state going to say when the future council applies for one?

"It's going to make a difference to someone down the road," he added.

The City Council reaffirmed its decision to withdraw from the state grant during its meeting Monday, Feb. 28.

Mike Hooper, a former city codes administrator and now a project manager for Miles Excavating, a Basehor company developing property that would benefit by the frontage road's construction, requested the City Council reconsider its decision to withdraw from the grant.

Hooper asked the council to stay its decision until the city could gauge the interest property owners in the area might have in participating in funding the $428,000 portion of the project. Hooper told the City Council that three property owners have expressed interest in helping pay for the road.

He also concurred with Espinoza in that rejecting the current grant would "make it extremely difficult for the city to receive grant interest in the future since this is the second rejection."

The City Council rejected Hooper's request.

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