Archive for Thursday, February 9, 2006

Council hears from community center consultant

February 9, 2006

Baldwin City Council members got a first look at the work being done by a consultant to determine if a community center and other recreational items for the community are feasible.

Jeff King, president of Ballard-King Associates, a Missouri-based consultant, spoke to the council about the early stages of a feasibility study which is the key element to find out if the community wants and can support a center. The city, Baldwin School District and Baldwin City Recreation Commission have joined together to split the cost of the consultant, which is $15,600.

King told the council that after 14 years in the business, his company had done 400 feasibility studies and they've resulted in 60 community centers in place and another 12 to 15 under construction.

"Not every time we're involved with a project does one get built," King said. "I think the proof is in the pudding that not all of our projects end up in facilities."

Among the items involved with the needs assessment are taking a look at the service area, factor in the school district boundaries, the demographics of the area, median income and age of people within the service area and talking to "shareholders," those most involved in groups and services, in any possible plans. King met with some people in the community Monday and was going to spend all day Tuesday speaking to "shareholders."

"That's the most important thing we do," he said of the sessions. "At the conclusion of the needs assessment, we'll make recommendations."

What those will be is anyone's guess, which includes possible costs to build a center and operate it. Or, it may be found that a center won't fly here. King said he'll be seeking information and compiling plans for a couple of months. And, he wanted to know what the council's "vision for the process" was.

"I think where our discussions have always led to is the quality of life in Baldwin," said Board President Amy Cleavinger, noting that many residents drive elsewhere for events and ball games because of the lack of facilities here.

"We need a large meeting room that's not affiliated with a church or other group," said Council Member Nancy Brown.

Cleavinger agreed about the meeting space and added that for football and track, the community relies on a long-time friend.

"We are very dependent on Baker for facilities," she said.

Mayor Gary Walbridge broached the subject that Baker, where he is director of facilities, will be unveiling new plans for a 10-year plan. He thinks it will work well with the city's efforts.

"The future is there," said Walbridge. "The future is bright. Plans from Baker will be unveiled."

Council member Ted Brecheisen Jr. thought the vision needed to be more than just Baldwin.

"I think the community is the school district, not just Baldwin," he said.

"I think the council is in agreement on this," said Council Member Tony Brown. "I think it's exciting. I'm anxious to see what we can do."

In business items, the council approved unanimously an agreement with the Baldwin Golf Course Association for running the course this year. The city bought the land the golf course is on last year and has appointed a committee to look into possible recreational uses for the area. Under the agreement, the golf association will pay the city $2,400 rent.

"The park committee met and discussed this," City Administrator Jeff Dingman said of the agreement. "I met with the golf association."

"The good news is this is going to make a little money for the city," Brecheisen said of the golf course.

Cleavinger, a member of the committee, said discussions are underway for uses for the land in west Baldwin, just southeast of the Midland Railway.

"We also talked about options and where we go from here," she said, adding that a survey will be done. "We've said 1,000 times, we're not in this to operate a golf course. But, it is good to have this in the meantime."

The council also approved a agreement with the Kansas Municipal Energy Association for the mutual assistance program. It basically outlines that utility crews will help each other in times of need, such as ice storms and other weather problems.

"This is continuation of a program that we're already in," said Dingman.

The city has been involved with it for years and this agreement is again for three years.

"It's fairly cheap insurance," said Walbridge.

The council also approved the annual street closings and one way street designations for the Day Out with Thomas the Tank event at the Midland Railway. This year's dates for Thomas the Tank are June 2-4 and June 9-11. Also gaining approval was a contract extension with the Douglas County Jail to house any Baldwin prisoners.

"Yes, we have used it," City Clerk Peggy Nichols said.

Cleavinger also informed the council of a meeting between the city, Baldwin police and school district administrators regarding the School Resource Officer at Baldwin High School. The meeting is at 4 p.m. Thursday at City Hall and is open to the public.

"I have asked for this meeting because I'm concerned with how the SRO is being used, particularly in the high school," said Cleavinger. "I'm very adamant that it be used as intended. I'm hoping I will be pleasantly surprised. But, I'm not happy with how the position is being used right now.

"For those that don't think it's important, I think they are not in touch with what is going on in the schools," she said.

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