Archive for Thursday, February 4, 2010

Parks Master Plan eyed by city council

One of the recommendations from the Parks Master Plan is to improve all city parks, which includes adding restrooms facilities and parking.

One of the recommendations from the Parks Master Plan is to improve all city parks, which includes adding restrooms facilities and parking.

February 4, 2010

A Parks and Trail Master Plan spanning the next five to 25 years was unveiled to the Baldwin City Council at Monday’s meeting.

Darron Ammann and Wendy Van Duyne of the firm Bartlett and West gave the 45-minute presentation on their recommendations, which they said reflected what a community survey and other input had said residents wanted. That’s hiking and biking trails, improvements to current parks, such as adding restrooms and parking, as well as other long-term improvements.

Of course, those recommendations came with a price tag, or at least estimates from the firm. For example, Phase 1 of the pedestrian trails is $685,000 — of which the city has applied for a grant to cover 80 percent — with Phase 2 estimated at $1.5 million and Phase 3 $2 million. Phase 3 wouldn’t come along until year 15. But during that first five years, the plan recommends $600,000 in park improvements.

Ammann said the plan presented was a draft, although it is 80 percent complete, and they were seeking additional input from the council and residents before putting the finishing touches on it. He also said it was a working document and could be tweaked as the years go by.

“We have given you nine months of work in 45 minutes. We know it’s a lot of information,” said Ammann. “We commend you for taking this first step in planning. You’re ahead of the curve.”

Mayor Ken Wagner thanked the pair for the presentation and made note of what they’d said about how funding grants can’t happen unless there’s a plan.

“I like the idea of a plan,” said Wagner. “Some of those figures (costs) scare me. I think there are several benefits to having a plan.”

He also told the council one item to remember is the recently passed quarter-cent sales tax designated for quality-of-life projects, which is new. Voters approved it, along with continuing a half-cent sales tax that’s been on the books since 1992 for infrastructure improvements.

“I think it’s important for this governing body to do something soon to show the people that voted for the quality-of-life sales tax,” said Wagner.

The recommendations were:

  1. Hiking and biking trails to tie everything together.
  2. Restroom facilities at all parks.
  3. Increased parking at all parks.
  4. Provide practice fields for youth sports.
  5. Enhance amenities at exiting parks.
  6. A community center — eventually — located at one of the existing school district locations.
  7. Develop and acquire additional neighborhood parks as Baldwin City grows.

As for costs associated with the five-year plan, based on the above recommendations, they were estimated at:

  1. Phase 1 of pedestrian trail, $685,000.
  2. West Park improvements, $120,000.
  3. FireTree Park improvements, $200,000.
  4. Grove Park improvements, $170,000.
  5. Kappelle Park improvements, including community meeting shelter, $50,000.
  6. Allen Park improvements, $60,000.
  7. Oak Grove Cemetery improvements, $100,000.
  8. Phase 2 pedestrian trail, $1.5 million.
  9. Update facility study, $10,000.
  10. Community-wide assessment of playing fields for youth, undetermined.


Torch 6 years, 10 months ago


As we move forward perhaps we should add a homeless shelter since many citizens wil be foreclosed upon and won't have anyplace to live.

I recognize that this plan was commissioned before the community recognized the financial crisis that was upon the country, but the prudent thing to do is just shelve it for now. We're broke...or getting there...and adding more fantasies about our little slice of paradise is crazy right now.


khayes 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree with torch this thing needs to be parked, literally.. And if we were to do improvements along these lines how about construction of sidewalks that link the city with pedestrian pathways internally? For instance to destinations such as the pool, downtown, a safe crosswalk spanning 56 hwy. We dont really have the money for these types of projects either but if were going to look at parks, pedestrian paths, etc...start simple...sidewalks..


sparky 6 years, 10 months ago

Anyone want to buy a house? I think mine just went up for sale. I give I give.


greyghost 6 years, 10 months ago

Just wondering if user khayes is the same user as Kenhayes?


Julie Craig 6 years, 9 months ago

I agree khayes. Quality of life in Baldwin City should mean maintaining the crumbling sidewalks, fire hydrants, utilities, storm sewers and other things that are in need of fixing. Then, and only then, if the sales tax brings in more, start new projects. How about a street and sidewalk to the new schools?


khayes 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes GG I am the Ken Hayes your thinking of. I just felt strongly about this issue of doing infill projects to interconnect the city with sidewalks before we take off in a whole other direction with trails etc.


BaldwinDad 6 years, 9 months ago

If the council goes ahead with the hike/bike trails at a cost of $650k, you can be sure anyone on the council pushing for this will not only lose my vote but will make sure that I volunteer to help campaign against them next election cycle.

While I agree with some recreational improvements, the cost for these trails is outrageous and unwarranted give they will hardly be accessible to half the town given their location in Fire-tree.

Also given the poor state of our other infrastructure issues and the lack of proper funding for Fire Dept/Police. I can't see how this will benefit the city as whole. When the biggest reason that most people give for leaving or not moving to our community is not the lack of recreational improvements, but its the exorbitant costs in regards to taxes and utilities.

Seems like REALLY irresponsible spending on the part of our City Council at this point.


Justask 6 years, 9 months ago

What is the difference between trails and sidewalks? Is it width? Length? Is there a difference at all?

If not, why can't we apply for grants to build "trails" and then build these trails where we want sidewalks (like to the pool, across 56, to the new school, etc.)?


straightforward 6 years, 9 months ago

I agree with a lot of you that this doesn't seem like the best time to talk about spending more money but this is going to be funded by the 1/4 cent sales tax passed last November. We all knew the state of our economy last November when a majority of Baldwinites voted FOR this spending.

I couldn't agree more that we need a better network of sidewalks throughout this town. Hence, we also renewed the 1/4 cent sales tax for infrastructure.

People are talking like this is going to require us to increase our taxes but the truth is we already did, and one of those taxes was already in place. I guess we have to ask ourselves if a higher quality of life is worth an extra 1/4 cent sales tax... I think so. I think these things will ultimately attract more people to Baldwin, not turn them away.


NanCrisp 6 years, 9 months ago

straightforward: I hope you are right. And, furthermore, I hope this happens sooner rather than later, so those of us who don't want these "improvements" made to our lives can get our houses sold and move to Franklin County along with our friends who were wise enough to have done that before the recession. Or, in my case, move to Lawrence where the tax base is large enough to support these types of projects. Baldwin is biting off more than can be chewed given the lack of a diversified tax base.


straightforward 6 years, 9 months ago

The idea that moving out of Baldwin will save you money is silly. These new taxes are sales taxes, not property taxes. You can live in Baldwin and shop elsewhere and this sales tax won't really effect you.

One of the primary motives for increasing sales taxes as opposed to property taxes is that it does increase the "tax base". All the people who live in rural Baldwin and shop here are helping us pay for this. All the parents of Baker students who come visit their kids are helping us pay for this. When we have other schools come to Baldwin for the BIT basketball or wrestling tournaments or the HS musicians who come to Baker for the regional music competition, they are helping us pay for this. I'd call that a diversified tax base. Move if you like but those of us who stay will be enjoying our new and improved parks!


Torch 6 years, 9 months ago

Straightforward - the idea of moving out of Baldwin and saving money is not silly. I have a friend who moved to Shawnee in 2006 and the amount he saved on utilities and taxes allowed him to buy a newer (more expensive) house in a growing neighborhood and break even.

What we pay to live in Baldwin is extremely high compared to urban communities in the area. To think otherwise is to fool yourself.


Torch 6 years, 9 months ago

Oh...and as a sidenote, it appears people in this community continue to hang their hat on 'State Grants' - in case you haven't been watching the news, the State is broke also.

There isn't money to be given away right now. Besides, in this time of crisis perhaps we should take an appetite suppressant and do what we can to mitigate the problem instead of stand here with our hands held out.

The bond was passed with a bunch of hoopla about how much money the state would provide. Even on the edge of the recession (which was pointed out even then) people still believed the gravy train would show up. There isn't a bottomless pit of money at the state...and maybe we should grow up and decide some things can wait instead of stomping our feet and demanding we get things NOW!


BaldwinDad 6 years, 9 months ago

I would also concur that moving out of Baldwin will save you allot of Money this has been proven time and again. Also it is the main complaint from allot of Realtors on why the houses in this town are not moving.

Also in regards to the state money, I'm sorry but that is my money as well and I hope Mr. Brown in Topeka would be smart enough to advocate against such frivolous spending as this pedestrian trail and help deny this request.

I also do not see the demand for this in our community, except for the limited survey that was done in which less then 3% of the entire community responded. I would recommend the City Council, if they value their positions, hold another hearing on this, since the tax was really being passed as a infrastructure improvement, were it labeled as a walking park and improvements for Fire-tree I doubt it would have had passed at all.

It seems quite obvious that is what this is since 60% of the money projected is being spent in the Fire-tree development.


jmyrick 6 years, 9 months ago

One clarification, BaldwinDad. The sales tax measures passed by the voters were two different items. The half-cent sales tax that had been in place since 1992 was for infrastructure improvements. That is not hike/bike trails.

The "new" quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters was for quality-of-life projects, such as the hike/bike trails. Let's be clear on that.

That said, I completely agree with you. If these taxes would have been passed on the idea of hike/bike trails, they would not have passed. However, that is not the case. OK?

That said, again, if you feel strongly about the "new" tax not being spent on hike/bike trails, let your council members know. Now.

It is a problem when the state is handing out grants for such projects when the state can't cut checks for our schools.

Did you go to school? It's a lot, not allot.


greyghost 6 years, 9 months ago

A lot or Alot or Allot? A lot should be written as two words. Although a lot is used informally to mean "a large number" or "many," avoid using a lot in formal writing. Example: The crook had many [not a lot of] chances to rob the stranger.


Julie Craig 6 years, 9 months ago

Really? You're going to discourage A LOT - or a large number - of posters if you criticize their education.

What the Signal needs is a section like the LJW has with the stories with the "most discussed" items in one area.


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