Basehor council targets land for new city campus
Basehor The Basehor city council is offering to buy a plot of land to build a new city campus between the city park and the community library, potentially resulting in a trail system that could connect all three.
The council has written a letter of intent to buy the land located near the corner of 158th Street and Parallel Road for $325,000 from David Jenkins of Basehor Prairie Farms. The city has been saving money for capital improvements and has $1.5 million earmarked for the city campus project which would include a new city hall, community center, police station and potentially an EMS station.
"I think that this specific parcel is just a really good fit for the long-term plan for the city," said council member Travis Miles.
The council will hear comments from the public at its March 17 meeting as the purchase has already inspired some debate over the choice of land. A couple members of the community voiced concerns at Monday's work session, saying the proposed location is too far from 155th Street and the new commercial developments off Wolf Creek Parkway.
The council was considering another, smaller piece of land just north of Casey's General store off 155th and Wolf Creek Parkway. Miles, Mayor David Breuer, City Administrator Lloyd Martley and other council members said developing a city campus on the commercial land near Wolf Creek Parkway would "land lock" the city's buildings, limiting expansion in the future. It would also limit land for potential new businesses, Breuer said.
"I do believe 100 percent that this is the best available spot for the long-term direction of our city," said council member Ty Garver. "It's not going to be something we complete in 2014, 2015 or even 2016; we're talking long term."
Basehor resident Elaine Bundy said she pictured the new campus being a focal point for the city, adding to what has been developed by the Wolf Creek Parkway extension project completed last year and adding to the infrastructure on 155th Street.
"City hall should be kept in the center of town," Bundy said. "You’re hiding the new city hall, the community center and the police station. As much money as we’re going to spend on this, I want people to be able to see it."
Former Basehor mayor Bill Hooker said he had always hoped that the city would build its campus directly across the street from the current city hall.
"I don't know of any metro area that has a 40-acre campus," Hooker said.
The land across 155th Street from city hall, which is just 2.5 acres, is also privately owned and the city, Martley said, would have to build its own infrastructure and utilities, costing much more than lawmakers want to spend.
Breuer added that Basehor's population has doubled every year for the past three years, up to about 5,000. He said the existing city hall won't be the center of town in several years if that growth continues, adding that the Kansas Department of Transportation has long-term plans of closing down the light at 155th Street and State Avenue. Those plans, Breuer clarified, likely won't pan out for many years.
Diana Weaver, director of the Basehor Community Library, said at Monday's meeting that the traffic at the library's location off 158th Street is higher than most other places in Basehor.
"We have about 7,000 people come through our doors every month; no other place in Basehor has that amount of traffic," Weaver said. "We’re not out there in the boonies."
The letter of intent to buy the land from the New Jersey based owner is just the first step of the process, said City Attorney Shannon Marcano. The city must still come to a purchase agreement with the owner, then present that purchase agreement at a city council meeting.
But even before that purchase agreement has been negotiated, council members agreed they need to give Basehor residents a chance to comment on the decision. That opportunity will come March 17.