Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

Council discusses community center, Maple Leaf parade

September 21, 2006

It was a light agenda for the Baldwin City Council Monday night, but they did get their first glimpse of a report on a community center and were updated on changes for the upcoming Maple Leaf Festival.

Ballard-King Associates, a consulting firm jointly hired by the city, school district and recreation commission to conduct a feasibility study on a community center, had sent the final report to Monte Ezell, recreation commission director. He gave copies of the 64-page document to the council members.

"The No. 1 drawback in this study is it does not address joint funding between the school district, city and recreation commission," said Ezell, noting that the recent financial problems found in the district, which has a $300,000 shortfall, doesn't help. "We have to look at what we can get for our buck."

Ballard-King was hired last year to do the feasibility study after several public meetings where members of the city council, school board and recreation commission were involved. The discussions centered on a community building that would serve the needs of all three entities.

Ezell suggested a meeting with the council with representatives of the council. The council thought it would be better to have the school district and the public involved.

"We should have a venue where everyone can chime in with input," said Councilmember Tony Brown.

City Administrator Jeff Dingman also thought it was important that all interested persons could read the report prior to a meeting.

"This document is available for anyone who wants to see it," said Dingman.

It is available at City Hall.

Ezell also explained how the feasibility study didn't just look at the Baldwin community, but the entire area that could be drawn to activities and other items at a community center.

"Right off the bat, instead of looking at the 3,000 to 4,000 people here, it shows and area of 17,000 people. We see that at the swimming pool and our other programs, like soccer," he said. "We draw people from Lawrence, Ottawa, Wellsville and Gardner.

"Our small-town environment is actually what brings people here," said Ezell.

It was decided to coordinate with school district for a joint meeting sometime in mid to late October.

Of course, mid October means only one thing to Baldwin City -- the Maple Leaf Festival. The council had a resolution to adopt concerning temporary parking and traffic control measures for the festival. Although the temporary rules are much the same as in years past, there is one major difference.

"The plan is very similar to what we've had the last couple of years," said Councilmember Nancy Brown, a member of the safety committee who has coordinated the parking and traffic for the festival. "The change in parade routes forces a few changes."

For the first time, the Maple Leaf's famed parade will not go through downtown Baldwin. It will start, as usual, near Liston Stadium and proceed west on High Street. However, this year it will turn north at Sixth Street instead of its usual path down High and a turn north on Eighth Street. The Maple Leaf committee had decided on the change when it appeared that a $1.2 million downtown renovation project could adversely effect the parade. However, the project was delayed a year, but the committee decided to go ahead with the Sixth Street route as "practice" for next year's 50th anniversary of the festival.

N. Brown said the new route -- which had to gain approval from Douglas County, as well as the city -- is better.

"From a safety standpoint, this actually works better," she said. "I just see it as a real plus."

She said the change separates those who attend the festival for the craft booths and those who just attend for the parade. The width of the Eighth Street is much better for the parade, too, she said.

"Do you think this route will stick?" said Councilmember Doyle Jardon.

"We have every expectation that this route will continue," said N. Brown.

"I don't know," said Jardon. "It just won't be Maple Leaf without the parade going downtown."

The council unanimously approved the parking/traffic plan, which includes barricading the alley behind Kwik Shop. N. Brown said people had used the alley in the past quite heavily and it caused problems.

"We don't want people zipping through there," she said.

There was only one other action item, the routine selection of delegates to the Kansas League of Municipalities conference. Dingman and N. Brown were appointed.

Dingman did want to make the council -- and the public -- aware of the upcoming meeting involving the city's comprehensive plan. The meeting is at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Legion Hall and will be the first of several public meetings on the document that will guide the city's growth for years.

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