Basehor residents voice questions about future city campus
Basehor Several Basehor residents approached the city council Monday night with questions about the board's interest in buying a 44-acre plot of land near 158th Street and Parallel Road.
Jim Washington, a former Basehor city council member, said he was concerned that the council had not publicly discussed the land acquisition as required by the Kansas Open Meetings Act, had not realized that there is a fiber optic cable running through the plot of land, and warned about a possible "conflict of interest" because Mayor David Breuer's family once owned the land.
But Administrator Lloyd Martley said after the meeting there's no concern for a conflict of interest. He added that the city is still only in the preliminary steps of inquiring purchasing the land. The city has sent a letter of intent to the land's owner, David Jenkins of Basehor Prairie Farms, LLC, for $325,000 (or $7,400 per acre).
Breuer's father owned the same plot of land for years before selling it in 2011. Breuer said that there is no connection or affiliation currently between his family and the land owner.
"There is no affiliation," Martley reiterated. "If there was anything that could be considered a conflict of interest, we would know about it well in advance."
The board unanimously agreed during a March work session that the 44-acre plot was the best available land for purchase that they had considered. The council had also considered a small plot of land across 155th Street from the current City Hall, and another piece of land just north of Casey's General Store on 155th. Elaine Bundy said Monday that she would prefer a new city campus be built in the center of town.
"I know in time Basehor is going to grow west," Bundy said, "but I think that a City Hall should be on the main street of town."
Breuer explained at the council's work session 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 for closing down the light at 155th Street and State Avenue. Those plans, Breuer clarified, likely won't pan out for many years.
Diana Weaver of the Basehor Community Library expressed her support for the proposed land purchase earlier this month, saying that 158th Street and the library already see more traffic than most areas of Basehor.
Building a city campus off 158th Street, the council discussed, would allow for a city trail that could potentially connect the new city campus to an expanded city park and the community library.
The $325,000 offered for the land would come out of the city's capital improvement fund, which has $1.5 million earmarked for the city campus project.
Martley said the city has taken into consideration the fiber optic cable running through the property, as well as the increased traffic the project would create on 158th Street. Preliminary concept drawings displayed Monday showed buildings that could be built without disturbing the fiber optic cable.
Martley also said that the city has not violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act in its discussion to purchase this land. By law, a city is not required to publicly discuss land acquisition negotiations until a negotiated contract in presented, he said.
"At this point, we're just seeing if this person is interested in selling the land," Martley said.