Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2007

Council OKs plan for Baker 150th fountain

February 8, 2007

A fountain in downtown Baldwin City to commemorate Baker University's 150th anniversary gained approval by the Baldwin City Council Monday night.

The Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce is spearheading the effort for the fountain, which will be located in front of the chamber office at Eighth and High streets. Rita Madl and Larry Parkin of the chamber committee responsible for the fountain project were on hand at Monday's meeting.

"The chamber thought it would be fitting for a present to the university from the community," said Parkin. "This is just one of the events that will be going on in honor of Baker's anniversary."

The chamber will purchase and pay for the installation of the fountain and the city will maintain it. The dedication ceremony is planned for the first week in October.

Madl said the fountain would have a 12-foot diameter pool. It will also have three pillars which will contain plaques honoring donors to the project.

"This is going to look fabulous downtown," said Madl. "It will be a significant fountain. We're really excited.

"It will also enhance the downtown shopping experience," she said.

She said a Kansas City firm will be building the fountain and will match it to the upcoming downtown project. That project is scheduled to get underway in March, City Administrator Jeff Dingman told the council.

As for city maintenance, it involves water and electricity for the fountain. Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr. had a question about that.

"If people throw coins in the fountain, does the city get them?" said Brecheisen.

"Yes," Madl said with a laugh.

The council then voted unanimously to allow the fountain to be built on city property and maintain it. It will be located where the city Christmas tree is normally located every year. It will now be across the street at City Hall.

Following the fountain discussion, Dingman brought the council up to speed on the downtown project, which has a $1.2 million price tag, with the Kansas Department of Transportation picking up 80 percent of the cost. It will include sidewalk improvement, better handicap accessibility and other items.

"We did advertise for bidders Jan. 25," said Dingman. "They have until Feb. 15 to respond. We will have a conference Feb. 19. We did scale down some of the project. That's all been approved before it was advertised for bids. We should have someone by the first of March."

Last year, the city only received one bid on the project which caused it to be delayed for a year. With construction prices continuing to rise, some items in the project were changed.

"I will meet with downtown business owners about changes in front of their businesses," he said.

Council members asked if there would be a public meeting regarding the project and its changes.

"Perhaps we can do that after we get a contractor," said Dingman.

The council was also updated on two annual events and approved the usual street closings involved with them. Linda Ballinger was present to tell the council that Day Out With Thomas would again be at the Midland Railway.

"Basically, Thomas is coming back," said Ballinger. "He'll be here June 1, 2 and 3 and June 8, 9 and 10. We had another great turnout last year and expect the same this year. Come join us. We'd be glad to have you out there."

The council also heard from Stan Vickers representing the Planes, Trains and Automobiles event which will be June 16 in downtown Baldwin City.

"Here we go for our fourth try at Planes, Trains and Automobiles," said Vickers. "We didn't have the turnout that Thomas did, but we had a great turnout last year and hope to continue it growing."

The event also involves some street closings and the council approved it unanimously.

"Will the downtown project be under way by then?" said Brecheisen.

"Yes," said Dingman.

"We'll have to make some adjustments," said Vickers.

In other business, the council approved a contract with Douglas County Jail to house prisoners for $51.79 per day, a slight increase. The council also approved on second reading an ordinance adopting revisions to the Code of the City of Baldwin City, which amounted to routine matters. The council also approved the purchase of a forklift for $25,038. However, they chose not to accept the one bid received for three trucks and it was sent back out for more bids.

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