Informational meeting for County Road 1 gives residents a chance to express opinions
Karen Fish is exasperated with the Leavenworth County-Kansas Turnpike Authority project to build an interchange on the turnpike at County Road 1.
Fish owns some land where the proposed interchange will be constructed. And at a public meeting last week in which affected landowners were able to meet with engineers about the construction plans, Fish saw that a large triangular section of her land would be taken, including the piece of land where she had buried her dog.
"This is a stupid place to put it," Fish said at the meeting Thursday at the VFW Hall in Tonganoxie.
Fish said she had always favored putting the interchange along County Road 25. But Wednesday, she said she was tired of fighting the county alongside her neighbors to keep this project from coming to fruition. She said she was left emotionally dead about the whole situation after running into so many "brick walls."
"It's out of my hands now so I guess I'll have to go with the flow, as long as I get to keep my pond," Fish said.
Not everyone at the VFW opposed the project, which will include improving County Road 1 north and south of the turnpike.
"A lot of the people here are against it, but I'm fairly neutral about it," said Tony Schmitt, who owns 10 acres along County Road 1. "My point of view is if they are going to do it, let's make sure they are going to do it the right way so the final product is going to be something we can all live with."
Representatives from Leavenworth County, the Kansas Turnpike Authority and HNTB, the engineering firm hired to design the project, were at the meeting, which was sponsored by the county.
Mike Spickelmier of the Leavenworth County Public Works Department and three other engineers involved in the project had split the plans into different segments and put them on display at the VFW.
Spickelmier said the idea was to let each landowner look at the county's plans and see how their land would be affected. Then if they had any questions, they would be able to speak directly with an engineer, who would help "alleviate any misconceptions."
"We worked really hard to make sure we didn't take anyone's home," Spickelmier said. "We didn't want to have more of an impact on their property than we had to."
More than 30 people attended the meeting. The county had required a few feet of right of way and a construction easement from some of the property owners. Others, especially those who owned property where the interchange would be built, had larger sections of land taken away.
Before residents left, there was a comment form for them to fill out about the informational meeting. The comment form asked if residents supported the project as presented; supported the project with exceptions noted; or didn't support the project at all.
"When this is all said and done, I think people will look at this project and say it's a nice road," Spickelmier said.