Consultant proposes new technology park
A consultant for industries wanting to do business in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union brought the idea of a technology park located on the Veterans Affairs campus in Leavenworth before the County Commission Tuesday.
Bob Happeny, with the Technology Development Corporation, proposed selling $3.5 million in U.S. Treasury zero-coupon bonds to attract early- and late-stage research and development companies to currently unused buildings on the VA campus.
Of the $3.5 million in bonds that would mature in 2020, Happeny said he believes the Kansas Bioscience Authority in Olathe would commit up to $2 million and is proposing the city of Leavenworth and Leavenworth County share the $1.5 million in remaining costs.
Happeny said there have been large, would-be anchors of the center, like global defense and technology giant Northrop Grumman Corp., that have expressed interest in the site.
He said his objective was to make sure potential investors are able to recoup their money and also noted that development at the VA would create jobs and tax revenues for Leavenworth County.
Commissioner Clyde Graeber asked how the investment would increase tax revenues because buildings on government-owned land are exempt from property taxes.
Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson clarified, saying that, while the buildings might be tax-free, equipment in the building would still be subject to taxation.
Tellefson said of the concept of a technology park, "I personally like this : because I believe it could be a viable use of these buildings on a pristine campus."
Tellefson compared the potential contribution to the endeavor to a board decision in February to contribute up to $2.5 million should Leavenworth have been selected as a site for the Department of Homeland Security's National Bio and Agro-defense facility. He added that the site investigated for NBAF could even possibly be used.
Graeber said he had concerns over recent legislation in regard to the project and wondered about the legitimacy of a location at the VA.
"I question whether this is the proper use of county funds," Graeber added. " : There are a lot of questions that need to be answered."
He advised Happeny to contact the Leavenworth County Development Corp.'s office to further inquire about the potential project.
In other business Tuesday, the board:
¢ Unanimously approved an expenditure of $28,966 out of budgeted 911 revenue to help pay for a new communications truck for the Emergency Management department.
An additional $57,143, procured through grant funding by the Department of Homeland Security, will pay for the truck's communications console and radios.
The truck will serve as a rolling, backup 911 center for the county, Emergency Management director Chuck Magaha said.
¢ Voted, 3-0, to revoke an 180-day temporary special-use permit issued on Oct. 2 to Omaha, Neb.-based Anderson Excavation Company Inc., to haul bricks from Fort Leavenworth and crush them on-site at 23301 Cemetery Road near Easton.
The original permit required Anderson Excavation to pay $22,000 for dust abatement on county roads along the haul route.
The permit was revoked Tuesday for noncompliance.
¢ Adopted, 3-0, resolutions setting the yearly assessment value for five county sewer districts.
¢ Met in two executive sessions totaling 40 minutes to discuss potential and pending litigation.
In business Thursday, Nov. 29, the board:
¢ Discussed plans by Topeka-based energy provider Westar Energy to extend an electric transmission line through the county.
Commissioner Dean Oroke said the cross-country line is to run from Westar's transformer station on 195th Street, along an old railroad track and then westward at Eisenhower Road.
Commissioners questioned whether the high power line would interfere with a planned communications tower at Bauserman Hill, just west of the intersection of Eisenhower Road and County Road 5.
After conferring with an engineer with Motorola, County Counselor David Van Parys said the line would have no impact on the tower, which is around one and half miles from the proposed electric line.
Oroke said Westar had already begun acquiring right-of-way from affected homeowners.
¢ Approved, 3-0, a special-use permit for the county to construct a 400-foot-tall civilian public safety communications tower on a 54-acre parcel at Bauserman Hill.
The permit also allows for an accessory building near the base of the tower to house electronic equipment.
The permit is valid for the life of the tower provided the tower is removed if it is not in use by the county.
¢ Approved, 3-0, a final plat for phase two of the Auburn Hills subdivision near the intersection of 170th Street and Stillwell Road in southern Leavenworth County.
Included in the plat for the 17-lot, 42.6-acre subdivision was a developer's agreement requiring a portion of the road and traffic impact fees collected by the county to be diverted back to Auburn Development LLC, the developer of the project, to pay for improvements to Stillwell Road from 170th Street to 166th Street.
"We get the road built, and the fees coming off the subdivision pay for that," Planning and Zoning director Chris Dunn said.
¢ Extended a contract for Emergency Medical Services director Jamie Miller at an annual salary of $61,760.
¢ Met in two executive sessions, first for 15 minutes with Van Parys to discuss potential litigation and then for 5 minutes with Human Resources director Diane Collins to discuss non-elected personnel.