Joint meeting leads to talk of cooperative possibilities

5/8/2013

Water, wastewater issues among items of mutual interest.

Water, wastewater issues among items of mutual interest.

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

Garden City, Finney County and Holcomb officials held a joint meeting Tuesday morning to essentially keep each other in the loop on a few issues of mutual interest. No action was taken, but the talks could lead to cooperative opportunities in the future.

One area of potential future cooperation may be to work on creating a regional approach to water issues. Garden City Manager Matt Allen said a few years ago that there was a study conducted about how to extend city water to areas on the perimeter of the city, but the ideas came with high price tags.

However, recognizing water quality and quantity issues still exist, and Allen said it might be time for the three governing bodies to start talking about a regional water strategy that also could involve communities along the Arkansas River corridor, even if those solutions could be 10 to 20 years down the road.

On another topic, the county and Holcomb representatives indicated there may be some interest in joining with Garden City on Garden City's current wastewater line maintenance program next year.

Currently, Garden City contracts with Mayer Specialty Services of Goddard for that service. Over a three-year period, the company cleans every sewer main in the city and annually runs a camera through 25 percent of the sewer lines to check their condition.

County commissioners indicated they might be interested in joining in, if the company also took care of lift stations, a service the city does not currently receive through Mayer.

The parties may talk about the contract more next year, when the city's contract is up for renewal in June 2014.

Finney County brought up making improvements to Jennie Barker Road between Kansas Highway 156 and Schulman Avenue. Currently, the road is in the county, but the city has been pushing to make it a four-lane road for a few years.

County Administrator Randy Partington said the project is in the county's 2015 capital budget and could cost $3 million, based on an 18-month-old estimate.

Allen joked that the project was only $1 million a couple of years ago, while County Commissioner Dave Jones countered that the way the city was growing in that direction, the road may be surrounded by city limits before too long and would then be a city project.

No commitments were made.

Jones brought up an issue with the city's planning and community development. Jones said recently that an Oklahoma businessman who is moving his business to Garden City called Jones upset and ready to pull out of the community because his contractor had started work but was shut down by a city inspector.

The issue eventually was worked out after a meeting between the owner, Finney County Economic Development Corp., the planning department and others, but Jones asked if some type of checklist should be created to spell out the zoning issues, building inspections or other regulatory items to prospective businesses to avoid a similar situation.

Kaleb Kentner, city planning director, agreed there is no current mechanism to help new business owners with the rules, especially in situations where a business is coming here from a community that has no zoning, inspection or safety regulations.

"The building permit process is not perfect by any means," he said. "We do the best we can. These things do happen, and I think we handled it the best we could by getting everyone together to work out the issues and got things moving as quickly as possible."

Lona DuVall, FCEDC president, said getting information to businesses is usually not a problem when they are directed through the FCEDC or directly through the planning department.

Better communication with local Realtors might help catch some that fall through the cracks, although it's more challenging to catch others, such as those who get a building through a private owner, until they have a problem.

"But when we do get involved, and everyone is at the table, it's amazing how quickly we work through it," she said. "The business from Oklahoma City, they actually felt better due to the fact that everybody came together and sat down with them. They were very complimentary the community came together like that."

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