Archive for Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Letters to the editor

December 26, 2001

To the editor:

As the mother of two little girls who attended Rainbow Preschool and one toddler who I had hoped would also attend someday, I was very sad when I read about the possibility of the preschool closing permanantly. Rainbow Preschool has a long and fine history as Baldwin City's community

preschool, and the possibility of losing such an important part of our town is disturbing.

After talking recently with someone from the group, I learned that there seem to be only a few options, none of which appear to be feasible at first glance because of state regulations or lack of funding. One prospective property is a problem because of the zoning (perhaps the city could rezone the property?). Another because there isn't any available accompanying green space (not much anybody can do about

that!). The last is simply too expensive, but has the potential to offer a better quality of life for both young and elderly citizens of Baldwin City and is really worth further discussion.

The basement of the Baldwin Care Center is that location, and would be a wonderful location for the Rainbow Preschool for many reasons, but mostly because we would be bringing together two generations of citizens who have so much to offer each other. In an age when parents are pressed

to find quality time with both their children and their elderly parents and grandparents, wouldn't it be lovely to let them spend time with each other? It's cutting edge community organization, and I would be so proud if Baldwin City could find a way to bring this sort of innovative problem solving into reality.

This kind of project cannot be realized without the involvement and support of the city council, local business people, the Board of Directors of the First Methodist Church, the Rainbow Preschool staff and Board of Directors and the citizens of Baldwin City. If enough of us could find a way to work together I'm confident we could find ways around the current dead ends. There must be grants available for

projects like this, and perhaps there are temporary measures that can be taken on the path to a permanant resolution. I'm sure there are many creative ideas and useful talents available from local individuals. I wonder if we can put our heads together here?

Amy Albright
Baldwin City

To the editor:

I see where McDonalds might build at the northeast corner of County Road 1055 and U.S. Highway 56. This will obviously continue to be one of the major intersections in the city, eventually requiring a stop light. But that's not my concern right now.

Construction of a facility like McDonalds and associated parking, drive through lanes, etc., will require removal of most of the mature trees on the site. This highly visible sight should incorporate adequate landscaping including planting trees that are at least 2 inches in caliper, berms, and shrubs like they are required to do in other near-by cities.

In previous discussion with City Hall, I had assurances that all new commercial construction in the city is required to install "substantial" landscaping. Yet, you can see from the newer commercial facilities along Highway 56, that it is just not happening from a minimal effort at Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, to the newer business centers, to the Car Wash and so on. Yes, a couple of facilities have installed some very nice landscaping. But Baldwin City, with the recognition it has with the "Maple Leaf Festival" should be requiring more in its standards for landscaping, particularly trees, or at least enforce what minimal standards they have. I'll volunteer to help upgrade city standards if that's what it takes.

David Schaecher
Baldwin City

To the editor:

This is a copy of a letter written to:

Mr. Clyde D. Graeber, Secretary, KDHE,
400 SW 8th Street, Topeka, KS 66603.
Re: Application of John Coen Dairy, Franklin County, Kansas
Dear Secretary Graeber:

I am writing to express Midland Railway's concern about the proposed construction of a 1,400 animal commercial dairy operation in the vicinity of the townsite of Norwood, Kansas. We have not been apprised of the nature and amount of waste materials to be deposited in areas close to Midland operations. However, if this disposal is done in a way or in amounts which produce an increase in odor, insects or bacteria, the very survival of Midland could be jeopardized. If Midland fails, $947,000 in federal ISTEA and TEA-21 funds awarded by the Kansas Department of Transportation will have been wasted.

The Midland Railway Historical Association is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 1987 to restore and operate a historic demonstration railroad for the education and enjoyment of the public. By pooling the resources of its founders, it acquired eleven miles of abandoned railroad between Baldwin City and Ottawa. Over the first ten years of its existence, its all-volunteer labor force rehabilitated three miles of track, several cars and locomotives and initiated passenger excursion operations. In 1998 it utilized ISTEA funding to rehabilitate the five-mile segment between Baldwin City and Norwood and construct a picnic area at Norwood. In 2000 KDOT approved TEA-21 funding for a $456,000 project, sponsored by Franklin County, to restore excursion operations between Norwood and Ottawa. Finally, this year another TEA-21 project for $193,000, sponsored by the City of Baldwin and shared with the Santa Fe Trail Historical Society, was approved to improve facilities in Baldwin.

In 2001 Midland carried more than 11,000 riders many of them school children and Boy Scouts, all of whom travel to Norwood. The Boy Scouts also camp overnight on weekends at Norwood. According to the application, a waste disposal area will be located one-half mile east of the picnic area and Boy Scout camping area on Stafford Road. Additional sites are planned immediately next to Midland's route to Ottawa between Riley Road and Reno Road. Midland depends for its survival on revenue from patrons who are attracted by its open-air coaches and the opportunity to experience a clean, quiet, rural environment. The introduction of odors, insects and bacteria associated with the proposed animal waste disposal could easily destroy these unique and essential characteristics and lead to health concerns on the part of Midland's patrons. The result would be decreased patronage and, eventually, the failure of Midland. If that occurs, all of the government investment in this growing tourist attraction will have been wasted.

I have spoken with Mr. Coen regarding this concern. He advises me that the waste will be injected into the soil in a way that will be friendly to the environment and avoid noxious odors and increased insect population. If his assurances are carried out, Midland does not oppose the application. However, we request that, in its deliberations, KDHE consider Midland's situation and, if the application is approved, include whatever provisions are necessary to prevent an increase in odors, insects and bacteria near the railroad.

Sincerely yours,
/s Michael K. Fox
Michael K. Fox
President Midland Railroad

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