Archive for Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Why hasn’t team approach been used for park?

November 1, 2000

Citizens of Baldwin. I read Mr. Paine's recent editorial with keen interest, searching for the logic behind the proposed park system with the desire it would become clear to me. Unfortunately this failed to occur. As a matter of fact, Mr. Paine's synopsis of private versus public development was to say the least over simplified and erroneous in nature.

Private developers do not operate "in secret." Ninety percent of the time we purchase land that is for sale on the open market. We have to arrange financing, complete engineering studies, soil samples, market studies, appraisals of the property and the search for a clientele base. Sound like a well kept secret to you? Of course not. There is no excuse for the "secret manner" in which this land option was enacted. Other municipalities have public meetings to discuss development of the city and areas to purchase for parks, recreational facilities and industrial uses. As a point of fact most

cities will look at a series of options for land purchase and ask for public comment. Further, cities will have studies completed to chart development for the future. Ever heard of the Horizon 2020 study? Its function is to map out the growth of a city/county and designate areas that will be residential, industrial, municipal, in future use. The Horizon 2020 study has of course received a lot of public comment both good and bad, but it allows the public to have input. The citizens of Baldwin were not afforded this luxury. My last

point on this subject is the most important. The City of Baldwin by financing this project through a bond issue is incurring debt that is the taxpayers responsibility. When a private developer buys land he does so at financial risk to himself and his investors. As a developer if we make the wrong decision we are financially held accountable. Lucky for a city administrator and a city council that their signature is not on the bank note. You and I, the taxpayers of Baldwin are on the dotted line. A bond issue will span decades so it also will fall heavily on those that will move to Baldwin, and our children, to pay off this land and its improvements. To summarize if a private developer makes the wrong financial decision, he or she is out of

business. If city leadership "blows the call" on a decision my guess would be they dust off there resumes and move on to another city. Which makes it imperative that a good decision is made on this project.

Next, the bond issue itself. I was less interested in the IRS details of taxable and non-taxable bonds and how to avoid legal problems, that dominated Mr. Paine's editorial and was more interested in details. Small things like the projected amount of the bond? How many years and at what interest rate for the bond issue? Does the bond cover the projected improvements on the land?

Details, Mr. Paine, this is what we demand. That is why we believe wholeheartedly that this bond issue needs to be placed on the upcoming ballot. In short, if we're going to pay for it as a city, then we get to decide if we want the debt. Since this rebuts the points of my opponent's letter, I would like to point out some other thoughts on improvements in Baldwin.

A recreational facility is a good idea for the City of Baldwin. I went to the effort to call several municipalities around northeast Kansas and discovered something. Most recreational facilities are subsidized by their parent city. As a matter of fact they are not money making operations at all.

They are HEAVILY subsidized. What does this mean for our town? More tax dollars to support this type of facility. That is why many communities have developed projects jointly with school districts and universities in their cities. What an idea!! Why not team up with Baker and USD 348 and build a facility that can be used by all our citizens? Further projects that are jointly developed are open to a host of state and federal grants. Important word here. Grant. That is money that is not financed and does not have to be paid back.

Keep the information and ideas flowing to me citizens of Baldwin. I have received many interesting insights into this project and we should be more determined than ever to say NO to this project. Contact me at 594-3431 or at Hazekd@AOL.com.

Ken Hayes

Baldwin City

(Editor's note: Ken Hayes has asked to offer an opposing view to Larry Paine's economic development series. This is his second installment.)

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