State of the City Address provides look at City projects

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Garden City Mayor Roy Cessna delivers the State of the City address Wednesday during the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce's monthly breakfast at the Clarion Inn Convention Center.

The state of Garden City in 2021 was addressed at the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce's October Chamber Breakfast where Mayor Roy Cessna gave the annual State of the City Address. 

Cessna said 2021 is an exciting time in Garden City as the community continues to grow and solidify it's status as the regional hub of western Kansas. 

A number of city projects are being completed and others are just beginning, Cessna reported. 

The Jennie Barker Road project, which was one of the 2017 sales tax projects, was completed in May and done in conjunction with Finney County, Cessna reported. The changes sought to improve the safety and usability of the roadway and to accommodate future economic development. 

"The improvements include reconstructing the roadway to a three-lane urban street section with a 5-foot bicyclist sidewalk, 10-foot sidewalk, street lighting, storm sewer, new reinforced concrete box and common utility trench," he said. "Signalization at the Mary Street, Jennie Barker Road and K-156 intersection met state traffic warrants and we will be working to get that installed. This project was combined with the Eastside Drainage Pond and water main extension improvements." 

One upcoming project is the Eighth Street Redevelopment project that goes on Eighth Street from Buffalo Jones Avenue to St. John Street is slated to be completed in later winter to early spring, Cessna said. The project work includes replacement of the road with uniform concrete surface and accessible streetscape with new trees, flowers and a plaza with a public art piece. 

Another upcoming project deals with drainage, Cessna said. The city was awarded a CCLIP grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation which will go towards improvements from Washington Street., Ballinger Street. and Center Street. and will include removal and replacement of the north drive lane, curb and gutter, sidewalk and installation of the new storm sewer system to improve drainage in the area. 

Cessna also touched on the completion of Garden Rapids at The Big Pool in May and the development of Southeast Community Park, located south of the East Cambridge neighborhood, which has completed Phase II and will begin construction on Phase III in 2022. 

The Golf Court Improvement Plan at Buffalo Dunes was also discussed. The plan is in its second year with completion projected for 2026, the course's 50th anniversary. 

Cessna said the estimated cost of the improvements is $8000,000, however it's being completed for a small fraction of that due to interdepartmental efforts, community involvement and utilization of internal resources as opposed to outsourcing. 

"Buffalo Dunes has been both locally and nationally recognized for its efforts to keep costs low," he said. "It is the number eight Municipal Golf Course in the U.S. by Golf Magazine; The number two Public Golf Course in Kansas by Golf Week; the Top 20 Value Course in the U.S. by Golf Magazine; and the number two Most Affordable Municipal Course in the U.S. by Golf Week." 

Cessna also talked about the indoor gun range, which the city will be to holding a ground-breaking for in the near future. 

Despite all of the city's project challenges remain, Cessna said. Some of the challenges including housing, the need for workers and childcare. 

"The City remains committed to working with public and private sector partners to solve these challenging problems," he said. "I would like to thank our City staff for their dedication to our community and for the hard work you do to make Garden City a great place to live, work, and raise a family."

City Manager for Garden City Matt Allen talks about the Garden City Regional Airport terminal project Wednesday during the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce's monthly breakfast at the Clarion Inn Convention Center.

Matt Allen, city manager of Garden City, also spoke at the meeting. 

One thing he touched on is the Garden City Regional Airport Project and how there will be a ballot issues on the Nov. 2 election in relation to the project looking at how to fund the city's share of the project. 

The project entails the construction of a new terminal with an estimated cost of $30 million, of which $17 million comes from CARES ACT funding, $3 million comes from FAA Entitlement Funding and $1 million comes from the Kansas Affordable Air Fares Program. The city's share is $8 million. 

Construction will begin in 2022 with completion expected in 2024. 

The ballot question will ask a yes or no question, with a "yes" vote meaning at 15 cent sales tax would be implemented for a period for 15 years to pay off the bonded indebtedness, Allen said. A "no" vote would mean that the funds would come from an increase to the city's property tax by 2.85 mills. 

"It is projected, it is likely, although it is not guaranteed, that sales tax would continue to grow and if there's an increment above the annual debt service in that sales tax, that would be used for Parks & Recreation improvements or property tax stabilization, that would be determined each year by the governing body as they do their budget," he said.

Allen said the state of the city this year feels a lot like that 2010 and 2011. 

"We're coming out of a national economic downturn, we have Census data that we don't really believe in, we have a major, major community capital project getting ready to start. We have really favorable local indicators, like sales tax revenue and those types of things and that really became a launching pad for a decade worth of growth," he said. 

Allen said sometimes there's the thought that everything is as good as it gets, but he doesn't think that's the case for Garden City, he thinks it's only going to continue improving and growing. 

"I think when you have a national economic downturn, those site selectors, those companies, those people looking to make investment with their money somewhere, look around and say where could we go and we always show up and stand out right on the heels of an economic downturn," he said. "We're maybe 4% growth, or 5% growth or 1% growth, doesn't sound that exceptional, it does when everybody else has 10% decline, 15% decline. We stand out."