Groups seeks public vote on city park
If the door bell rings this weekend, it might not be the Avon lady calling. It could be someone asking for a signature on a petition to put the proposed recreation/business park to a vote of the people.
Ken Hayes and several other interested people will be going door to door Saturday and Sunday seeking signatures for the petition. Hayes, a Baldwin City resident who has announced his candidacy for one of the four positions that will be open on the city council in the April election, started the effort last weekend.
But, the big push will be this weekend.
"In my hand I have roughly 100 signatures," said Hayes of this past weekend's efforts. "We have other petitions out with volunteers and we are going to hit it hard this weekend. We plan to canvas the city over Saturday and Sunday.
"The petition is asking for the Baldwin City Council to place the issue on the ballot this spring," he said. "It is not a force issue, it's a public request type petition."
The proposed park would be located on 160 acres just southwest of Baldwin on Orange Street extended. The city has taken out an option to buy the land, which has a price tag of $590,000. Although no detailed plan exists for the ground, City Administrator Larry Paine has said the plan calls for a recreation area on one tract of the land and a business park on the remainder of the property. Paine has also said there has not been a decision to buy the property. That's why the option was taken and the city could very well walk away from the site, he said.
The recreation area would be located near a 14-acre pond that is on the site and would include baseball, softball and soccer fields. Those are the most pressing needs because the lease on the current baseball and softball fields north of Baldwin High School will expire in a few years. The school district owns the land and expansion needs at the school complex may put an end to the fields there.
Baldwin is also in need of business or industrial park because the one east of town is full. Mayor Stan Krysztof has said he has had to turn away more than three potential businesses because of a lack of a place to put them.
Hayes and others opposing the proposed project agree that a recreation area and a business park are needed. But, because of the location and other factors, don't think they should be located where the city is proposing. They also question whether recreation and business parks belong together.
Hayes said he needs at least half of the 1,971 people who voted in the last election to sign the petition.
"I believe that I need 50 percent of that amount to be placed on the ballot, but my target is 1,000 signatures," he said.
He also said he had numerous interesting comments made to him while collecting signatures last week regarding the recreation/business park and the city council in general. He said it has strengthened his resolve to run and hopes others will, too.
"Without quality candidates that are interested in redirecting this city down the right path, we will miss out on the economic boom for Douglas County over the next 20 years," said Hayes. "'Four fresh faces' is my team motto and it is deathly critical to the whole plan for the future. I wish some people would get the hell of the fence and join the fight."
City council positions that will be up for election in April include the mayor and council members Lee Whaley, Joe Salb and Eugene Nelson. Salb and Nelson were appointed by Krysztof to fill vacancies when council members Jennie Washburn and Jerry Roberts resigned.