Lynne Hermannsen
Special to The Gardner News
Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation presented information to City Council on 2019 developments and 2020 plans for Gardner at the Gardner City Council meeting.
Greg Martinette, Southwest Johnson County Economic development corporation president, highlighted 2020 plans that included:
• an Olathe Health building,
• KCADC’s KC Heartland Campaign,
• Aeroready Certification to attract aerospace companies,
• partnering with Evergy for new drone videos to update data on LocationOne Information System, and
• attendance aviation related events to bring jobs to the community and more.
Mark Baldwin, city council member, removed the Southwest Johnson Economic Development Corporation agreement from the consent agenda to ask Matthew Wolff, city finance director about the status of meeting the 2020 budget. Wolff said the city was $14,000 short at this time.
“Last year I said we would see the largest construction boom the county has ever seen,” Martinette said, “but we have had to push that back due to challenges with development.”
Martinette said challenges emerged from the airport, pipelines and infrastructure. Martinette asserted that the CenturyLink Building had a profound impact on the community, but CenturyLink announced plans to move out at the end of June. The 480,000 square foot building at 600 New Century Parkway has no incoming new tenants at the time. The building previously housed local phone provider Embarq, purchased in 2009 by CenturyLink, and the company made upgrades on the building, which was built in 1982.
Word of mouth and change of perception have made a difference, Martinette said.
“When people got out here, they were shocked,” Martinette said. “Most of them had never been out here, and they would go back and tell people how great Gardner is.”
Martinette introduced Shelly Kaster, the new Economic Development Director. Kaster, who became the director in September 2019, comes to the position with more than 20 years of project management and other related business experience.

Land Bank
Wolff briefly presented on the Gardner Land Bank Annual Report. He said the land bank currently has no properties or property transactions from last year. It received $5,000 in initial funding, but the funds haven’t been spent.
Gonzalo Garcia, director of utilities, gave committee recommendations for implementing a private inflow and infiltration work and authorizing an agreement with Keller Fire and Safety for a high pressure CO2 System. Garcia said the infiltration work would require $125,000 for the pilot program as 100 houses require some kind of repair.
Todd Winters, city council member, said it would save significantly in the future. Baldwin asked if there had been any pushback, as they haven’t spoken with homeowners. The infiltration work is part of the Inflow and Infiltration Program.

In consent agenda business:
the council approved $732,576.20 in expenditures of January 3, 2020, and $1,226,365.10 prepared January 20. They appointed Kacy Deaton and Eric Hanson to the planning commission.
The council authorized Bond Counsel Services with Kutak Rock, LLP, and sludge removal with Digital Erth Consulting.
They approved the 2020 County Assisted Road Services agreement (CARS) for the Moonlight and Madison signal project.
The council also authorized approval of amendment one to the Hillsdale WTP Expansion Phase 1 agreement with Burns and McDonnell-CAS Constructors for easement acquisition support.