Archive for Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Council tackles full agenda

February 21, 2001

The City Council on Monday night addressed several agenda items, ranging from a request to vacate a street, to approving an ordinance and resolution for an electric bond. Most of the business taken at the meeting follows:

Baker request
sent to planners

A request to the city from Baker University to vacate Fremont Street between First and Second streets was tabled by the Baldwin City Council Monday night following a public hearing and referred to the planning commission.

The portion of Fremont Street is located behind Liston Stadium and is narrower than other stretches of the street. The university is planning to improve the locker room, restroom and concession facilities at the stadium. The university is requesting the street vacation to facilitate the project and to improve safety in the area.

"Somebody, some day is going to walk out of the locker room and get hit by a car," said Bob Layton, Baker vice president of financial services. "We need to do something out there. It has been many, many years since money has been spent there."

The university owns the property north of Fremont Street in the block that the street vacation is being sought. However, two residents attended the public hearing with concerns about how the project would affect the area.

"I think it is important to have a little feedback in the process," said Steve Honomichl, 109 Elm Street. "I have no problem with the concept. I welcome the concept."

Jeff Valentine, 518 First Street, expressed concern for children who use Fremont Street in the summer to get to the swimming pool. He suggested that Baker University retain an area for pedestrian traffic on that block of Fremont.

Dan Harris, Baker athletic director, said it is the university's long-term plan to improve Baker's athletic fields into a complex that might eventually include a request for the vacation of Second Street from High to Fremont. The area would include "thoroughfares" for pedestrian traffic.

"Those streets are an important part of making this a complex," Harris said.

Project architect Steve Troester, of the PGAV architectural firm in Kansas City, Kan., said plans for improvements will include public input. No plans have been drawn yet.

"Overall, we are going to look at all the athletic facilities," Troester said. "We want this to be a nice addition to the city."

City continues
funding process

The Baldwin City Council Monday night authorized City Administrator Larry Paine to sign the application and loan documents for a State Revolving Funds low-interest loan.

"It gives us the opportunity to apply for low interest loans," Paine said. "Right now the rate is at 3.2 percent."

The low-interest loan is administered through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Paine said $3 million is available to the city that way.

The city also applied and interviewed for a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant earlier this month. Paine is optimistic the city will receive that funding as well.

The city's wastewater treatment plant is nearing capacity, and a new plant is nearing the engineering stage. Engineering firms interested in designing the new plant were interviewed earlier this month and candidates could be presented to the council at its March 5 meeting.

Sprint box
location approved

The city council granted easement to Sprint to install a switch box on property owned by the city at Signal Oak Estates. The switch box will be located on a 10-foot by 12-foot concrete pad north of the fence surrounding the city's water tower at Signal Oak. The switch box would be about 4-foot by 3-foot. A similar unit is located in FireTree Estates at Ninth and U.S. Highway 56. It is surrounded by a decorative stone wall. No aesthetic improvements are planned around the unit at Signal Oak.

The council granted the easement to Sprint. However, council members directed city staff to notify the neighbors.

Tornado sirens
to be relocated

Douglas County Emergency Management is requesting the city install three 65-foot utility poles with electric service for the relocation of tornado sirens in Baldwin. The three sirens two of which will be new and one reused will be located at Third and Fremont, the 1100 block of High Street and near the north water tower in Signal Oak Estates.

"Currently, these sirens cannot be heard in all areas of the city," said city utility director Terry McKinney.

The relocation could be completed within a month. The sirens are tested the first Monday each month at noon.

School board, city
discuss electric rates

City and school district officials met last Tuesday to discuss a discounted rate for electricity for the school district. The school board has been requesting a review of its rates and to be placed on a lower rate schedule for about two years.

Options discussed last Tuesday included: making no change to the school district rate, a straight 5 percent discount or putting the same rate schedule at Baker University, which is calculated based on demand.

"We are looking at going to a demand situation, where they control their use," said council member Ted Brecheisen Jr. "It will be up to them to generate some savings."

City Administrator Larry Paine said changing the school district to a rate based on demand also would be advantageous to the city.

"In addition to saving the school district money, we need them to reduce demand during August, September and October," Paine said. "This, in addition to May, are the months where they set their peak demands for the year. Reducing demand is vital to our ability to provide power this summer."

City approves
other business

In other business:

The council approved an ordinance and a resolution authorizing the sale of the $400,000 electric bond issue. The average interest rate for the bond issue is 5.5 percent over 20 years.

The bond issue will fund: replacement of feeds on the east side of town; rebuilding the turbochargers on two engines at the power plant; improvements to the Newton Street substation, and other improvements.

According to bond counsel from US Bancorp/Piper Jaffray, the ordinance is a simplified version of the resolution. The ordinance is published as a legal notice.

The council approved the time, date and location of a benefit street carnival by the Phi Mu sorority at Baker University. The council approved closing Eighth Street between Indiana and High Street from 6-9 p.m. Friday, April 27.

The carnival will have food and game booths set up by community and university groups. Proceeds from the carnival benefit the Children's Miracle Network.

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