Special to The Gardner News
At the Oct. 26 meeting, members of the Johnson County Airport Commission heard good news and bad news about treatment of mold in the administration building basement, reviewed budget reports and audit reports, and heard a presentation urging the county to support a memorial for fallen heroes.
Fallen heroes memorial
Olathe resident Dale Duncan gave a presentation on behalf of a group that hopes to create a “Fallen Heroes” memorial at Navy Park.
Navy Park was originally created in 1950 to honor Navy and Marine aviators who trained at the military base and were killed in service.
The south side of the park has long been home to three retired military aircraft, and they would remain in place under the proposed plan for the new memorial.
The new memorial is for the 30 U.S. servicemen killed in August 2011 when the Chinook helicopter carrying them was shot down in Afghanistan. Duncan’s 21 year old son Spencer was one of the casualties.
The Army has agreed to donate a decommissioned Chinook to be used for this memorial.
The proposed location of the Chinook is almost in the center of the park, on the east edge of the retaining pond.
More than just a aesthetic landscape feature, the pond is a part of the storm water management system, necessary for compliance with EPA industrial storm water controls.
The retaining pond, and the need for a ‘restoration’ project, is an item the commission has been aware of but hasn’t discussed in too much detail yet.
“There’s all sorts of stuff that could be in the bottom of that pond. We want to make sure we’re not digging into something we don’t want to mess with, but I think in concept, we’re absolutely 100 percent in favor of something like this,” said Brad Weisenburger, chairman.
A professional representing the memorial project said that data from tests done by the Corps of Engineers and other entities over the years was used to estimate a cost of $1.26 million for the pond restoration.
Lee Harris, commission vice chairman, suggested staff look into possible funding assistance for the pond restoration from federal sources.
Proposed improvements to the park site are estimated to be about $637,000.
The memorial construction is estimated at around $2.5 million.
Duncan said the goal of his group is to raise enough donations to cover the cost of the memorial itself.
The idea presented is to do the pond restoration, make park site improvements and construct the memorial all in succession.
Combined cost of those items is roughly $5.5 million.
Hotel possible in Gardner
Greg Martinett, president of SWJCEDC, updated the committee on the progress of several New Century projects.
At the end of the New Century updates, Martinette said that in 45 days or less, developers will announce plans to build a hotel in Gardner.
The announcement is pending FAA approval of the building height. The application has been submitted and is expected to be processed in less than 45 days.
Mold: good news, bad news
The good news was that the mold that was discovered in the basement of the administration building has been “remediated.” The cost was $135,700.
The bad news was that what has been done so far is considered a temporary solution.
The temporary solution is costing $3,800 per month in rental equipment. More extensive work is recommended to provide long term protection against mold/water damage, and that would require an estimated $560,000 in repairs.
There was audible reaction of shock around the table when the number was read.
Further discussion revealed that figure includes foundation repairs/waterproofing, installation of HVAC units/ductwork, and a new electrical system including transformers and other equipment.
“It seems to me that we could find a cheaper solution, or some sort of ongoing maintenance program…”, said Lee Harris, commission vice chairman. “I mean, there’s got to be some other way…[than] to invest that kind of money in space we don’t use.”
Currently the only time the basement space is entered is when service personnel need to access electrical, fiber optics or phone lines.
Harris wondered if relocating that equipment and just closing off the basement could be an alternative.
That was ruled out when another member noted the space was the designated tornado shelter.
The presenters continued to indicate that to insure against mold in worst case situations, this type of improvement was necessary.
The committee wasn’t ready to approve the expenditure.
The presenters were asked “get creative” in coming up with alternatives and to report back at the Dec. 7 JCAC meeting.
County auditor report
Ken Kleffner, county auditor, was present and introduced Michelle J. Cleveland, senior auditor at Johnson County, to present a summary of audit results from 2015.
The audit noted a number of discrepancies that did not comply with county policy and procedures, including expenditures for building remodel projects and to Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation (SWJCEDC).
“We have reviewed the contracts between SWJCEDC and JCAC, as well as the related expenditures and invoices for 2015. Preliminary concerns are that the business relationship between JCAC executive director and EDC president are not at arm’s length and some payments to EDC were not transparent and are to be considered questioned costs,” said Cleveland.
Kleffner interjected a comment at this point to define ‘questioned costs’.
He said questioned costs could result from three types of activity: “one, is a violation of a provision of law, regulation, grant or BOCC policy,” [two] “it can be that at the time the audit was conducted, it’s not supported by adequate documentation, and three, it’s an expenditure of funds that was unnecessary or unreasonable.”
Kleffner concluded by saying, “looking at all three of those – all three of those apply.”
Cleveland then continued the presentation.
She described finding improperly paid travel expenses but noted that most of that had been reimbursed.
When the report was done, Kleppner spoke again and told the committee that the presentation was based on work that was in various stages of completion. He said he hoped to have a final report ready for the Dec. 7 meeting.
Warren St. cell tower
At the Sept. 28 meeting, JCAC approved construction of a new wireless communications tower at 171st and Hedge Lane. That request had been approved by Olathe’s city council earlier.
Tower structures within one mile of an airport must be approved by both the city and county.
At the Oct. 26 meeting commission members considered the renewal of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for an existing wireless tower at 790 E. Warren St., in Gardner.
Gardner city council approved the CUP request on Oct. 17. Today, JCAC voted today to forward the recommendation to approve to the Board of County Commissioners.
Commission approved a consent and recognition agreement regarding Duke Realty’s subleasing of the property at 27200 W. 157th Street.
Consideration of an estoppel agreement for de Elliotte co inc. and First Heritage Bank was on the agenda but no action was taken due to an individual not being present. The de Elliotte facility in New Century, at 201 Prairie Village Dr, produces printed plastic bags and plastic packaging.
Update on executive director search: Ads have been running since Oct. 14 and will end on Nov. 10. The search committee will meet on Nov. 15 to begin review of the candidates. In person interviews should occur the first week of January.
JCAC has combined the November and December meetings into one meeting on Dec. 7.
The agenda will be heavy. There are a number of items that must be completed before the end of the fiscal year.
The time frame is actually shorter than that because most of those items must continue through the Board of County Commissioners for approval and their last meeting of the year is Dec. 15.
The committee decided to change the normal 9 a.m. meeting time to 8 a.m. in anticipation of a lengthy session.