Archive for Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Strategies behind proposed park’s combined use

November 1, 2000

The writing of this series on economic development has been fun. The idea of a weekly deadline does create a bit of pressure which makes me appreciate the work Jeff and Valerie do each week to bring this paper to you.

As I concluded last week's column, I said I would discuss the business and recreation strategy. The strategy applies to combined use property, like we have under option now, and to separate parcels for the two uses. Recreation property is currently owned by USD #348. The ball fields are available under a lease crafted about 25 years ago and redrafted last winter to include the Baldwin City Recreation Commission. The school district, recreation commission and the city agreed to preserve space for youth sports for five years. There is a provision allowing for contract extension as well.

We asked the Baldwin City Recreation Commission to project the needs for ball fields and recreation space beyond the five-year life of the agreement. It is clear availability of recreation land in the future must come from earlier acquisition. This means that preparation of new ball fields must happen before the current ones are no longer available.

Specific recreation strategy for the Faulkner property calls for site selection and development based on the advice from the recreation commission. The future number and types of fields along with topography will dictate the space allocated to recreation.

The recreation center concept discussed by the Recreation Task Force will be added to the design concept also. I visualize the center placed on the property near the south end of the pond. With a front porch facing west, parents could watch their children canoeing, kayaking, rowing or fishing around the pond.

The business park strategy comes from another direction, physically and conceptually. While recreation traffic would access the property from Orange Street, business park traffic would come from the northwest Lawrence Street.

The business concept the council is looking at is clearly to add assessed value to the city's tax rolls as one of the chief objectives. Very simple math shows us the reason. Residential property is taxed at 12 percent while business/commercial property is taxed at 25 percent of the property's assessed value. The prospect of raising $2 business property tax revenue for each $1 raised from residential tax is desirable.

Another principle the council is considering is the property valuation changing from agricultural to commercial/industrial. The Faulkner property is priced at $3,687 per acre as Ag property. I contacted an economic development professional in the area to get a general price on commercial/industrial property. They quoted prices on the K-10 corridor at $43,000 per acre. Their assessment was Baldwin's prospect of getting 50 to 75 percent was good.

Let us assume a 50 percent value $21,500 and 55 percent of the 160 acres. Property value now becomes $1,892,000. That is 320 percent appreciation of the original purchase price. So I am not accused of "fuzzy math," I recognize the appreciation will not happen over night. I expect the filling of the business park to take seven or eight years. A bonus generally happens during the seven to eight years, property values rise. For those who grew up during the Great Depression, I recognize property appreciation is not a given. However, 50 years of history says there will be some appreciation.

Next week, I will focus on what businesses will be targeted and the new high speed wireless Internet telephony already here in Baldwin City and its impact on business communications now and by the time the business park has its first customers.

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