Archive for Thursday, May 20, 2010

Intermodal could mean growth for Baldwin City

May 20, 2010

With a $35 million grant possible from the recently passed state revenue package, the long-anticipated Kansas City Intermodal Facility in Edgerton should begin construction this year, state officials say.

The massive freight hub to be built on 433 acres in southern Johnson County could mean 8,700 permanent jobs during its 10-year build-up and 660 construction jobs in the near term. That will mean a big boost to the area and will likely spill over into Baldwin City, said Mayor Ken Wagner.

“I think job creation is a big need in our area and this should initiate the growth necessary to start the economic impact of this,” said Wagner. “I realize that it is controversial with some whom don’t want this growth in the area. I believe we can channel the growth in a positive way and keep our quality of life relatively unchanged in the Baldwin City area and coexist with our neighbors to the east.

“In a broader sense, this is even better for Edgerton, Gardner and southwest Johnson County, which will be impacted to a larger extent,” he said. “This has been a very divisive issue in those communities, but I suspect they will pull together and find common ground and support the growth that will come in their immediate area.”

The revenue bill provision means the state can make the $35 million grant now to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which will build the intermodal facility. The grant hinges on BNSF beginning construction before the end of the year. The grant is to be repaid from the utilities sales tax generated at the site, which will also include The Allen Group’s adjoining logistics park. The park will cover another 557 acres.

While Johnson County will see the greatest impact, Wagner believes it will mean growth to Baldwin City, too.

“A lot of people call southeast Douglas County and the Baldwin area home, and many of those same people want job opportunities in the communities they live in,” said Wagner. I think this is a very good opportunity to accommodate those people.

“We need growth and diversity in this community to make our community even more affordable to live in,” he said. “Spreading the tax base, increasing population and rooftops, providing jobs are all a part of what is necessary to support the financial commitments that we have already made and will make in the future. If we are not growing as a community, we likely are moving in a negative direction. We need to keep our community moving forward and be progressive.”

Comments

greyghost 4 years, 6 months ago

Hmmmmmm. Does this "growth" involve population growth? Wagner might want to share his knowledge with the school board, before they close down any school.

Question: How many in Baldwin City would vote for an additional school bond issue within, say, five years from now? Closing schools down may not be in your best interest. I know, I know, but at least little Timmy get to play PeeWee, right?

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jen 4 years, 6 months ago

It is not that we do not want economic growth in this area. The intermodal will not be bringing that many permanent jobs. Of the 200 plus possible jobs that will be generated the majority will not be good paying jobs. The majority of this facility will be electronic and will not need much manpower. Growth in Baldwin City is needed. However, this type of growth is not positive. Between 1500 and 3000 semis rolling slowly down 56 hwy should not be considered positive growth. I agree, the school district may want to reconsider closing down any schools. Possibly the district will grow from the 200 jobs created but not by much. I question how many parents will enjoy knowing their children are at risk everyday at recess taking in diesel fumes. This could cause some parents to reconsider sending their children to school a few miles out of town instead of a block from 56 highway.

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completelytoast 4 years, 6 months ago

Some random thoughts here:

  1. BC is, by and large, a commuter community. It strikes me as ironic that opposition to the intermodal could focus on environmental degradation. Intermodal facilities utilize more fuel efficient rail and less semi trucks on an aggregate basis.
  2. 8700 possible permanent jobs are not exactly the same as “200 plus jobs”. If school funding is important, these jobs can help to expand the tax base. (There all lots of for sale signs in my neighborhood.)
  3. During the Sierra Club’s meeting in BC last fall, they stated 80% of the semi traffic would be along I-35.
  4. In addition to the jobs, it would be beneficial for the local ag community. Intermodal containers that used to return to Asia empty are now being filled with ag commodities, again increasing fuel efficiency.

I must say I'm astounded that the state of KS is giving $35 million dollars to a company owned by Warren Buffett that would have been built anyway.

I support Wagner on this and if anything would prefer he be more aggressive. He did pledge to bring 8-10 new businesses to BC when he ran for mayor as I recall.

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straightforward 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure what kind of growth some people would prefer but I assume these workers will generally be blue collar, hard working folks. Many will probably be union employees, meaning they will probably have steady employment. I'm okay with this kind of growth.

If they shop in our town, it helps support local businesses and contributes to the new sales tax we passed last year. If they have children in K-12 education, our schools get more money from the state. If they move to Baldwin, they would buy up some of the homes for sale and ultimately increase our property values. Plus, they would help subsidize our increasing electric rates. It seems to me some growth would help solve a lot of our current problems.

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baldwinfan 4 years, 6 months ago

A big reason we have a lot of our current taxes is because we are paying for the growth. New sewer lines and extra power capacity for planned future growth. Economies of scale don't mean lower taxes. A lot of smaller communities pay a lot less taxes than Baldwin City does. Maybe we should be happy with what we have instead of building a new downtown and new schools to try and attract new residents.

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defenestrator 4 years, 6 months ago

"A big reason we have a lot of our current taxes is because we are paying for the growth. " - baldwinfan

No, the reason we have lots of current taxes is because we are correcting mistakes made by the idiot, cheapskate skinflints of the past who refused to pay their fair share. Now we are stuck with their criminal neglect of the infrastructure of Baldwin City. This statement does NOT include the wasteful, shameful spending on the most recent bond issue.

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hipgrrrrl 4 years, 6 months ago

Just a note regarding the anticipated traffic on US 56 from the intermodal. According to a BNSF presentation (Note for Jeff: prepared by HDR for BNSF - not HELP or KDOT), they anticipate approximately 35,000 trips to off-site warehouses by the year 2022 (and somewhere around 25,000 by 2015).

20% of 35,000 is 7,000. That's a sizable number of trucks that are not using I-35. KDOT would have us believe the number of trucks on US-56 won't be more than 1,000 a day (up from a quoted current number of 280) and although I don't believe it for a minute, there are those that do. Surprisingly, some people are relieved that the number will only be "1000". That's a lot of trucks - and a significant increase over the quoted current number. I think having 1,000 trucks coming through town on a daily basis is an appalling thought.

I think Loosecaboose has it right (see his prior posts regarding this topic).

Anyone who is remotely concered about all the diesel fumes, traffic noise and road congestion that will accompany these "1,000" trucks we've been told to anticipate should contact HELP (www.helpairwater.com).

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