Retail project sparks questions

1/30/2013

Development, traffic plans topics brought up at town hall.

Development, traffic plans topics brought up at town hall.

BY SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram

Several questions submitted by the public to the Garden City Commission Tuesday night during a town hall forum had to do with the Menards retail development and related construction and traffic issues.

One question submitted electronically asked whether a shopping mall is going to be built next to Menards.

The planned retail development includes 400,000 square feet of retail space on more than 60 acres of land north of Schulman Avenue and south of Sam's Club, east of the U.S. Highway 50/83 bypass. The Menards store itself covers about 162,000 square feet on about 28 acres.

Mayor David Crase indicated it will be up to the developer to determine what other retail businesses are built, but there could be about 19 other stores built in and around Menards, likely filled in on either side of Lareu Street between Sam's Club and Menards.

"That's entirely between the developer and the retailers on the size of it out there," Crase said.

Another person asked via Facebook if the reconstructed bypass is being made into a four-lane highway.

City staff's response, read by Crase, indicated the project is widening the bypass north and south of Schulman Avenue to make room for a center-turn lane and right-turn lanes, but the bypass is not being turned into a four-lane highway.

The increased traffic due to the bypass project prompted another person to ask if the city considered putting a traffic light at the intersection of Jennie Barker road and K-156.

City staff indicated the city preferred a signal, but the Kansas Department of Transportation disagreed due to a study indicating projected traffic volume over the next 20 years didn't warrant a signal light. Staff also indicated the city plans to revisit the issue with KDOT every couple of years.

"Unfortunately, just like when they first put the bypass in and we had the four-way stop, it took three or four fatalities before they put the overpass in over near Walmart," Crase said. "I hope that's not what it takes to put signals out there. I hope with traffic counts, even with the detour, they will proceed with some kind of signalization out there."

On another topic, Harold Starr, a candidate for city commission this April, took issue with the commission about the appointment process three weeks ago in which Melvin Dale was appointed to fill a vacant seat.

"The community has told me they contacted you guys in reference to my being seated in John Doll's position," he said. "You guys represent the city, supposedly, so if I call you or call him, that reference ought to be brought forward."

Starr, who applied along with five others, also took issue with Commissioner Chris Law for apparently not voting for Starr, nor mentioning that he had been contacted by some of Starr's supporters, and about Law's later comments to the newspaper in a story about commission candidate filings in which Law expressed a desire to serve the community.

Law said he read and considered all applicants' letters of interest before deciding to vote for Dale.

"I read it and considered it," Law said. "That's all I needed to do."

"You could have stood up and said you were for somebody else," Starr said.

"I wasn't for somebody else," Law said.

In response to a another citizen's question about how quickly the city mails utility disconnection notices when a person doesn't pay by the due date, Crase acknowledged the city has received some complaints about the issue that it has taken up with the Kansas City company that handles the city's billing.

Commissioner Melvin Dale urged people not to panic if they get a disconnect notice, but to contact the city's billing office to work something out.

Another person asked via Facebook if the city would consider holding a future town hall meeting in Spanish.

Crase called it an interesting idea that could be workable if there were interpreters brought in to translate for non-Spanish speakers, including commission members. Crase added that it might not be a bad idea for the city to have an interpreter present at future town halls anyway in case a Spanish speaker called in or came to the meeting to address an issue in person.

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