Archive for Friday, November 11, 2005

Museum study still on hold

Council weighs next move

November 11, 2005

The Lansing City Council remains at a logjam over a $38,300 contract to conduct a feasibility study for the proposed Kansas Regional Prisons Museum.

In a study session Thursday night, Mayor Kenneth Bernard apologized numerous times for not fully informing the council about the contract, which a city committee studying the prison awarded last month to Project Explore, an Overland Park-based consulting firm that has worked with such projects as the Liberty Memorial and Science City in Kansas City, Mo.

"I'm sorry if I offended anybody by not keeping you informed. We were on a fast track. Probably the biggest mistake was going too fast," Bernard said, explaining that the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum Committee was trying to get a feasibility study completed in time to accompany an application for a grant in the 2007 federal budget. The application is due in January, and Project Explore had agreed to meet the deadline.

Bernard's apologies came on the heels of last week's council meeting, in which several council members complained about learning about the contract in a news story. Four council members raised questions about how the contract was awarded, its cost, how it was being financed, including whether public funds were used, and why council members weren't notified about the study before it was undertaken.

But council members at Thursday's study session disagreed on how best to proceed: Kenneth Ketchum, for example, said it was time accept the apology and get moving forward on the study; Billy Blackwell, however, said it was time to back up and make sure the process for hiring a consultant was done properly.

After about 30 minutes of sometimes-heated debate, no consensus was reached and Bernard brought the discussion to an end. The issue will be brought up again at the Nov. 17 City Council meeting. Agenda materials indicate Bernard will ask the council itself to approve the contract with Project Explore.

For more on the study session, see the Nov. 17 edition of The Current.

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