Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner council worked through a heavy agenda at the Oct. 17 meeting, including taking an action that is rare for municipal governing bodies – de-annexation of property. A wide variety of other items were considered at this meeting and notice was given that the railroad crossing on Moonlight Road will be closed for railroad construction from Oct. 20 – 28.
Gardner Senior Center
Along with the remodeling of the senior center building came suggestions to explore the idea of re-naming the building. Up to now the building has been called the Gardner Senior Citizen Community Center.
Staff reported that they had conducted some citizen surveys and suggested re-naming it the Gardner Enrichment Center.
All council members had something to say on the topic, and several shared feedback they had heard from citizens.
Todd Winters, council member, suggested shortening the existing name, to simply call it the Gardner Senior Center.
Council discussed, and later agreed with a unanimous ‘aye’ vote.
Renovations were funded by a Community Development Block Grant of $200,000, along with $50,000 from the city’s general funds. The work included improved interior and exterior ADA access, an upgraded community room with new furnishings, a modernized kitchen and more.
The center, 128 E Park, will continue serving as the location for Johnson County Meals on Wheels, seniors, volunteer programs, group meetings and special events. The building was built about 1964.
A public hearing regarding the de-annexation of property at 15401 Gardner West Road was held.
No public comments were made on this item. Council moved on with other agenda items and returned to the de-annexation later in the meeting
Larry Powell, business and economic development director, reviewed details of the request initiated by the property owners, who were present at the meeting.
The property owners currently own five connected parcels of land at Gardner Lake. One of those five plots is situated within Gardner City limits, four are not.
The piece that is within city limits is less than one third of an acre and is a long narrow shape that is not a buildable lot.
The property owners wish to combine the five parcels into two buildable lots, but the lots cannot be merged until they are all in the same zoning jurisdiction.
There are no city services connected to the property.
Powell’s report noted that the city would lose tax revenue of $6.86 annually from the property.
De-annexation is rare action taken by municipalities.
“Philosophically, I’m opposed to de-annexation, because it’s [never good] to lose property inside the city limits, but given the fact we’ve already spent 15 minutes of staff time… that’s probably more than six dollars right there,” said Steve Shute, council president.
Laura Gourley, finance director, assured council that the city could survive the loss of revenue.
Council approved the de-annexation via Ordinance No. 2527 with a 5-0 vote.
Wastewater Plant of the Year
For the sixth time in 11 years, Gardner’s Kill Creek Water Resource Recovery Facility has been named Class 4 Plant of the Year by the Kansas Water Environment Association (KWEA).
Gardner’s facility received the most points from a KWEA inspection.
Chris Morrow, mayor, and Gonz Garcia, utilities director, expressed appreciation to the staff at the plant.
Scott Millholland, Kill Creek plant supervisor, was present to receive the recognition.
Public Comments
Six individuals appeared to make comments to council.
Four of those were related to Gardner Municipal Airport. One offered suggestions to improve the city’s youth athletic programs. One aired grievances of the governing body.
Gary Carson, who advocates for disability rights, has appeared at previous council meetings and was the first public comment made.
Carson said that many of the issues brought up in the ADA self evaluation report the city recently published had been brought up by himself 32 months ago.
He claims city staff and officials are unresponsive.
Carson said the ADA advisory committee had no teeth but “councilman Moore’s committee seemed to have fangs.
He singled out council members Rich Melton and Moore, saying they refused to meet with him and that they didn’t care about the disabled in the community.
Gardner Municipal Airport
The first of four area residents to speak about Gardner Municipal Airport questioned why three of the last four appointees to the Airport Advisory Board had resigned over a short time period.
He suggested that when council considered appointees, they should weigh the value of pilot experience and knowledge as much or more than someone with a degree who is not be an experienced pilot.
He referred to council consideration of an agreement with Mid America Regional Council (MARC) that would come up on the agenda later, and wondered why the city has to hire a consultant to get a grant.
Council later approved the service agreement with MARC.
The second commentator wanted an accounting of what happened to funds transferred to the city when the the city assumed management of the airport.
Later, in council updates, Moore addressed that question. Calling upon Laura Gourley, finance director for confirmation, they stated that that money had not been spent and could be publicly seen in a budget line item on the city website.
The second commentator also suggested that at least one board member should be a certified pilot and then voiced disapproval of the selection of Gilbert Ludwig, who was appointed to the Airport Advisory Board by a unanimous ‘aye’ vote later.
The last two men to speak about the airport were concerned about the advisory board’s recommendation to continue allowing hangar sub-leasing. Both felt unnecessary regulation was being imposed.
Council had a 20 minute discussion about the item later when committee recommendations came up on the agenda.
In the end, council approved a motion to continue allowing sub-leasing, with limitations, by a four member ‘aye’ vote with Melton voicing a “nay.”
In Brief…
Council considered rezoning property at S. Moonlight Road and W 183rd from Neighborhood Business District to Two Family residential.
Council approved by passing Ordinance No. 2525 with a 6-0 vote that included the mayor.
Council considered the planning commission’s recommendation to approve a 25 year conditional use permit for a wireless communications tower at 790 E. Warren.
The CUP was approved by a 6-0 vote.
Council accepted right of way and easements for Copper Springs V final plat with a unanimous ‘aye’ vote.
Council authorized a five year lease contract with Altec Capitol for two specialty vehicles: a transmission digger derrick truck and a large aerial lift truck. Staff had determined that Altec offered the best price and service. The combined annual cost of the two specialty vehicles is $90,612.
Council adopted an ordinance granting a natural gas contract with Kansas Gas Service.
This is a new contract to replace the previous contract with the same company from 2006-2016.
The new contract, for a 15 year term, will pay the city three percent of gross receipts. Ordinance No. 2528 was approved with a 5-0 vote.
Council adopted a resolution authorizing public sale of General Obligations Bonds in the amount of approximately $3,780,000.
The funds will cover Phase 1 of the Pavement Management Program, refinace previous bonds to achieve interest savings and fund replacement of Transformer No. 1 and associated breakers.
This is Resolution No. 1955, passed with a 5-0 roll call vote.
Council approved appointment of Monica Jacobs to the Board of Zoning Appeals and Gilbert Ludwig to the Airport Advisory Board.
Gonz Garcia, utilities director was appointed as Gardner’s representative on the Kansas Municipal Gas Agency’s Board of Directors.