Special to The Gardner News
The Sept.19 Gardner city council meeting featured discussion on the employee wellness program, ADA related issues, and the future of the Gardner Golf Course.
Employee Wellness Program
Alan Abramovitz, human resources manager, gave a presentation of the employee wellness program.
“The city wants to assist employees in their journey towards optimal wellness,” said Abramovitz, explaining the purpose of the program.
Abramovitz described the plan as “a five level, completely voluntary program that can have positive results both physically and financially.”
Abramovitz explained levels of incentives and rewards for participation in wellness activities. Employees who fully participate in the program can earn up to $714 in rewards and discounts.
The city has budgeted $18,000 to this program for 2016 and $56,000 for 2017. More activities and incentives will be added in 2017.
“I think it’s a great program, I’m glad to see this,” said Todd Winters, council vice president.
“I think we’re kind of setting the pace for a lot of municipalities in the area with this,” added Steve Shute, council president.
Gardner Golf Course
Scott Garrie, parks and recreation director, gave a presentation on the Gardner Golf Course.
Garrie said the golf course is part of a much bigger picture. The ‘bigger picture, according to Garrie, includes considering the golf course, community recreation and sports tourism together as a whole.
A 2014 estimate was mentioned. It cited $3.4 million needed for improvements, which included a $1.3 million clubhouse.
With that kind of investment, like the city’s baseball facilities, the course would need to compete with other quality area golf courses to attract tournaments – i.e., “sports tourism.”
A variety of topics were discussed after Garrie’s presentation.
Rich Melton, council member, questioned the status of mineral rights.
Kristy Harrison, council member, reminded the chamber that town hall respondents said keeping prices low was important.
Melton wanted to investigate the possibility of leasing the property again to a third party operator. Other members made comments in agreement.
Most of the discussion has been mentioned before – in previous council meetings and at a February 9 town hall meeting.
Several council members noted a lack of specific information on current course conditions and operation costs.
“If I had reservations before, it’s because I’d like to see what we’re dealing with currently with the golf course before I’m interested in any further parks and rec activity surrounding the golf course. I just want to see where we are first,” said Lee Moore, council member. All agreed.
“You got to know where you are before you know where you want to go,” added Steve Shute, council president.
Options will be considered again, and the council would like more information.
Gardner resident Gary Carson was first of four individuals to address council during public comments.
Carson, who advocates for disability rights, appeared at the Sept. 6 meeting to ask council why he had not gotten answers to questions he had asked in an e-mail. He was upset with the responses that were given later that night in council updates, after he had left. He read about them in the newspaper days later.
Carson was particularly displeased with comments made at the Sept. 6 meeting by Lee Moore, council member and Chris Morrow, mayor.
After speaking for about seven minutes, Morrow reminded Carson that public comments were limited to five minutes and asked if he was wrapping up.
Shute made a motion to allow Carson to complete his statement, seconded by Harrison and approved by an ‘aye’ vote.
Carson spoke for about twenty minutes total, covering a list of grievances spanning 31 months.
Among the many things cited were vegetation growing in sidewalks and inadequate handicap access at Casey’s, Sonic, the new Taco Bell and Movies in the Park.
Carson offered harsh criticisms of the city administrator, city attorney and city clerk.
“I’m tired of having to deal with city administrators who don’t care about the civil rights of its disabled citizens,”Carson said.
He said he wanted the city to hire an ADA consultant to relieve the clerk of ADA responsibilities.
“Some of you may know, I’ve been working on a report for several months, and soon, I’ll be submitting that report to the Department of Justice, concerning everything I’ve encountered over the last 31 months,”Carson continued. ” I’m going to ask the federal government to be lenient with the city. I don’t want the city harmed for the mistakes of the few.”
The only response in council updates came from Moore, who spoke of potential violations and actual violations.
“Everything is in a state of deterioration, so potential violations are all over the place. So we really have to focus our attention on actual violations,” said Moore.
Another disabled citizen appeared after Carson and thanked council for improvements that had occurred in the recent past. He also said he appreciated Carson’s work for the disabled.
The third public comment came from an Olathe citizen who was disappointed after reading an Aug. 24 article in the Gardner News citing a report that the Gardner Municipal Airport was not self sustaining.
He said everyone at the airport was “pretty upset about all of this.”
He stated that the airport had turned over $180,000 in funds when transitioning to the city, and that had been spent on very expensive improvements.
The last public comment came from Jarrad Falk, representing Charter Communications. Charter Communications will be the new name for Time Warner Cable, which was just bought by Charter cable company. Falk was there to discuss details of a proposed right of way ordinance.
Falk was invited to stick around to participate in the discussion when the item came up in the agenda under New Business, which he did.
The main concern related to wording regarding the use of conduit.
After discussion and modification of the wording, as agreed upon by Falk and council, Ordinance 2524 passed with a 5-0 vote.
Also in New Business, council approved an extension of the appointment process for an open seat on the Airport Advisory board with a 5-0 vote. The vacancy is due to the resignation of Chad Tate.
Council approved a committee recommendation for a supply contract with Integrated Controls, Inc., for Kill Creek Water Recovery Facility SCADA improvements. The SCADA system monitors and controls the processes in the facility. The existing hardware and software is outdated and obsolete. The amount of the contract is $160,451.
In the consent agenda, appointments of Mike Blanchard and Mike Reynolds to the Streets, Sidewalks and Stormwater Advisory Committee were approved.
Also approved in the consent agenda was authorization of payment for relocation expenses for the tenants at 32180 US 56 Hwy. The residential dwelling at that location will be removed because it is in the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ) of the Gardner Municipal Airport.
The tenants will be compensated $33,600 for relocation expenses. The FAA will reimburse the city for 90 percent of that cost.
Council went into executive session at 9:04 and resumed with council updates at 9:14.
Golf Course future undecided; patron slams council, staff