Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2010

Basehor City Council votes to buy Field of Dreams

Basehor City Hall is home of the Basehor City Council

Basehor City Hall is home of the Basehor City Council

April 22, 2010

The city of Basehor has embarked on a new business venture.

At Monday night's Basehor City Council meeting, the council voted, 4-1 with member Iris Dysart opposed, to buy the Basehor Athletic Association Field of Dreams at a cost not to exceed $400,000.

The Field of Dreams has long been working with the past city council and current council members Dennis Mertz and David Breuer to find a solution to its financial difficulties. In November 2009, the Field of Dreams approached the council to request a donation that would aid the organization in overcoming a $10,500 deficit. From discussions thereafter, council began exploring the possibility of buying the Field of Dreams and taking over its operations.

Council directed the city staff to conduct a survey, appraisal, financial analysis and title work on the facility to determine the feasibility of the city buying it. The findings showed the Field of Dreams is worth $550,000, which is higher than the asked price of $372,000. City Administrator Mark Loughry said at the April 5 council meeting that he found to replace such a facility, the city would need to spend $3,019,000. He recommended the city take advantage of such an offer, and on Monday, the council did just that.

Dysart’s reservations about the purchase were rooted in its financial effect on the city, as she said during past council meetings that she anticipated Basehor would generate little to no revenue from buying the facility.

“I want our boundaries to grow, but I want to do it in a way that doesn’t hurt the taxpayers,” Dysart said at the Feb. 1 council meeting. “We have payments on the wastewater treatment plant and Wolf Creek Parkway. I don’t think the revenue is here. We’re putting it all on the current taxpayers. I think it’s going to be a lot of work to get it in shape.”

Mertz disagreed with Dysart at the same meeting, saying he saw Field of Dreams as an asset to the community and an element that could potentially draw in more residents.

“We have adults come here, and they have kids, and they want (an athletic association). They want pools, they want a community center, amenities,” Mertz said. “We have all these homes, and we need these things for Basehor. This is one step, besides the city park, to offer to these people. If we can … run it and give the taxpayers something back, I think that’s what’s important.”

After Monday’s meeting, Mertz said he was thrilled the council was on board with saving the Field of Dreams.

“I … made sure to make it my goal to provide the citizens with a promise to make sure that (Field of Dreams) never closed,” he said. “It took a lot of convincing to get it done. This has been a learning experience and the first item I was tasked in handling as city council member, and I am so proud that it has been approved, and the citizens now have a start to a recreation department.”

Also on Monday, the council:

• Approved, 3-2 with Dysart and council member Bill Moyer opposed, to annex three properties in the Theno Estates subdivision. In December, the Basehor City Council received a request from developers of the land, Brooke-Lynne Development and Howard Theno and Sons Builders, to annex the properties in the subdivision, which already uses the city’s sewer system. Four additional properties are included in the subdivision, but the owners of these properties do not wish to annex into the city. Theno had previously made the same request of the city several years earlier, but no action was taken.

The council voted at its Jan. 25 meeting to request the Leavenworth County Commission to determine if annexing the lots in Theno Estates would be detrimental, and the commission found it would not be at its March 11 meeting. The council’s vote to annex Monday night was in opposition to the course of action recommended by City Administrator Mark Loughry, who told council members city staff did not believe the financial benefits of annexing Theno Estates were sufficient enough to take on the added costs of the subdivision’s street maintenance, snow removal, etc.

• Approved, 4-1 with Dysart opposed, to give a donation of $5,510 to the Basehor Historical Museum Society. The historical society asked for this donation several months ago to combat its tight budget situation.

• Tabled, 5-0, a resolution adopting a generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) compliance waiver for the city’s 2009 audit. The council discussed the matter during executive session and opted to wait to make a decision until certain business issues in the city had developed further. The council would not comment on those issues during open meeting.

• Approved, 5-0, to put a hold on construction of the 150th Street realignment project and to release transportation revolving loan 126 back to the Kansas Department of Transportation. The $1.2 million KDOT loan was to be repaid using revenue generated from the transportation development district along Wolf Creek Parkway that included recently closed Wolf Creek Marketplace. With the grocery store shut down, the council said it did not see any way to repay the loan at this time. The last date for the city to collect on the loan is May 1, and with the council’s vote, KDOT will keep the funds. The city has already committed $127,201.75 to the project. Engineering will be finished on the project, and KDOT will reimburse the city for any additional expenses incurred in engineering fees.

• Met in executive session for 90 minutes to discuss the GAAP waiver and matters related to non-elected personnel.

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