A Town Hall meeting to discuss Gardner’s 2017 budget was held Feb. 29. Speakers included: Matt Wolff, management analyst for Gardner; Jeff Stewart, parks & recreation director; Brian Faust, director of public works; and Gonzalo Garcia, utilities department director. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

A Town Hall meeting to discuss Gardner’s 2017 budget was held Feb. 29. Speakers included: Matt Wolff, management analyst for Gardner; Jeff Stewart, parks & recreation director; Brian Faust, director of public works; and Gonzalo Garcia, utilities department director. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Details of the 2017 city budget and Capitol Improvement Plan (CIP) were discussed on Feb. 29 at a Gardner public meeting. Three city department directors gave detailed presentations reviewing needs and plans to address them.
Matt Wolff, management analyst for Gardner, began the meeting by giving a brief overview describing the goals and objectives of the CIP.
The four long term strategic goals are: to promote economic development, improve quality of life, improve fiscal stewardship and increase infrastructure/asset management.
Jeff Stewart, parks & recreation director, said his department consisted of four divisions: administration services, recreation services, aquatic services and park/facilities maintenance.
Parks and Recreation has adopted a parks systems master plan that was developed from field evaluations, citizen committees and citizen surveys. The plan addresses improvement needs for city parks and recreation facilities, trails and open spaces.
Part of that master plan is rehabilitation of park trails. Only about three percent of Gardner’s park trails are in satisfactory condition. 19 percent are in fair condition, 9 percent in poor condition, 26 percent very poor, 34 percent in serious condition and 9 percent failed.
The estimated cost to restore the trails over a three year period is $923,540 and would be funded by a renewal of the sales tax.
“Quite honestly, if we have to replace asphalt trails, now is the time to do it, because oil prices are down,” Stewart said.
Stewart also discussed improvements to Quail Meadows Neighborhood Park, at an estimated cost of $350,000.
City signage was another improvement project discussed. There are currently two aged “Welcome to Gardner” signs, one on the west side on Highway 56 and the other on 175th on the east side of town.
The city would like to remove both and replace the one on the east side, just off I-35, exit 210, with a monument sign that would showcase the new rebranded Gardner logos.
Monument signs are more than a simple sign – they are usually fairly large and feature the town name/logo displayed on a attractive base structure made of a permanent material, such as concrete block or brick.
Stewart showed a photo of the monument sign recently installed by the city of Eudora as an example. He said the city estimated the cost of such a project at $110,000.
Brian Faust, director of public works, detailed some of the projects under consideration in his department.
Faust discussed a proposed plan to construct a five legged roundabout at 191st and Gardner Road on the south side of town. In addition to the roundabout itself, landscaping and a monument sign would be complimentary features as well.
This 2017 roundabout project has an estimated cost of $2.5 million. Funds would come from a combination of debt services and Kansas Department of Transportation.
As part of the County Assistance Roads Systems program (CARS), a section of Center Street, from Grand to I-35, would be improved at a cost of $975,000.
Improvements to a section of road at 175th and Waverly is needed to correct storm water problems. This intersection floods during hard rains and has to be closed. Correcting this has an estimated cost of $2.4 million.
Potential contributing funds for the 175th and Waverly improvements could come from the Stormwater Management Advisory Council (SMAC) and CARS.
Faust also described plans for runway protection at the Gardner Airport. The end of each runway is referred to as a runway protection zone, an area which must be kept clear.
“It’s critical that we continue to provide protection for our runway system. This will include purchasing and clearing properties within the runway protection  zone,” Faust said, then added, “that’s an area that you cannot even build in, you couldn’t even put a parking lot in. Anything where people could congregate is not permitted.”
The cost of clearing this zone is $300,000, of which the city would pay 10 percent and the FAA will pay the remaining 90 percent.
The final item Faust discussed was the widening of 175th street east of I-35.
Faust said, “At a minimum it would be four lanes. We have seen proposals for a six lane 175th Street corridor.”
Cost for the 175th street widening are estimated at $2.3 million and funds would come from KDOT and debt services.
Gonzalo Garcia, utilities department director, provided information on future city electric and wastewater systems projects.
Electric generation transmission and substation systems need maintenance and repairs with estimated costs of $150,000. The electric fund has cash on hand to pay for this.
The city’s wastewater system has several pressing needs.
Two submersible pumps at the wastewater treatment facility need to be replaced at a cost of $125,000.
Another piece of equipment, described as an oxidation rotors gearbox and bearing replacement, will cost $75,000. This machinery breaks down organic pollutants in the wastewater.
There is also a problem with water intrusion at the Kill Creek facility. This creates a safety hazard (potential electrocution) for employees working at the facility and interferes with the efficient processing of wastewater. Cost to correct this problem is estimated at $115,000.
Wastewater collection mains from Washington to Madison streets are undersized. The three phase plan for upsizing the gravity mains has an estimated cost of $1.5 million.
All of the above wastewater improvements will be paid for by combination of wastewater fund and debt services.
The water treatment facility at Hillsdale needs an $80,000 generator replaced, as well as $30,000 for transfer pumps. The water fund has cash to pay for those equipment replacements.
All presenters were available to answer citizen questions at the end of the meeting.