on second thought……maybe not

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

The Eudora City Council met in a specially called meeting Tuesday evening to facilitate the attendance of all members of the City Council.  Several council members could not attend the regularly scheduled meeting of March 12th and with an important topic of a proposed Public Safety building, the Council wanted as many members as possible present.  Four of the five City Council members were in attendance at this meeting, with the exception of Councilman Tim Reazin who was unable to make it for an undisclosed reason.

The Council moved through the agenda acting quickly to approve a final plat for what is now being called “Eudora City Center” at 10th and Main Streets. This plat includes the properties now owned by the City, the School District and the Library.  A Use Permitted Upon Review (UPUR) application for a proposed Public Safety Building to be located on the cities portion of the land at the 10th and Main intersection was also passed with no substantive discussion.

Following these actions, city staff gave a presentation on the cost and tax impact of the new public safety building that has been proposed for 10th and Main. During that presentation, Eudora City Administrator John Harrenstein stated the estimated cost of the building to be $4.025 million dollars.  Harrenstein also outlined that, to pay back the cost of the 30 year debt of the proposed building, a 2.851 mill rate increase would likely be needed and a combined $80,000 in budget cuts would also have to be made over the course of three years.  These cuts would be taken from a variety of sources in the city budget.   Money from a 2.1 mill increase authorized by the City Council in 2010 would also be used to fund this project.

This information was followed by a lengthy discussion by City Council members.  The Council voiced in solidarity that the current Public Safety Building has to be replaced, but building such an expensive building is not practical.

“We have let a piece of property dictate what we are going to do,” City Councilwoman Ruth Hughs said.

Many Council members had stated in past discussions that since the planned location of the proposed building was to be at 10th and Main Streets, it need to look better than just an average metal building since they feel it is a gateway to downtown and the city.

“When we are looking at cutting $10,000 from streets, from parks and economic development, that concerns me,” Hughs added.

“It’s not the price of the building, it’s the timing and the mill rate increase, that concerns me,” Councilman Kenny Massey said.  “There’s a lot of concern right now in this community with that level of mill rate increase.”

In what was somewhat of a surprise turn of events, the Council started talking about, in the best interest of the community and the City budget, that city staff should place the 10th & Main proposed building on hold and look for an alternative location to place a new Public Safety Building.

Council members questioned Harrenstein and other city staff about the feasibility of halting this project at this point and moving to “Plan B”.  Harrenstein told the council that if they were questioning the project and may not want to continue forward, now was the time to do so and not send the project to bid.

The Council directed staff to look at a project with a $2 million dollar budget.  If this budget were to hold and estimates made on growth and valuation decreases stay similar to what was forecast for the 10th and Main project, this would mean an approximate 1 mill increase as opposed to a 2.851 mill increase.

“The outcome of this meeting was really positive,” Harrenstein said. “The Council deliberated the issue and maintained their commitment to safety for the volunteer Fire Department. We will start looking at sites around the community and come back with some options.”

City officials will begin that process anew of determining a suitable location to house a new building and what it will cost for land acquisition, site preparation, and a different building design.  The other outstanding question to be answered in the future is what the city will now do with their portion of the property at 10th and Main.

To be continued…….

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12 Responses to City Council puts the brakes on the proposed Public Safety Building at 10th and Main

  • This is how a city gets stuff done behind your back folks.
    We need to band together and toss every one of them out. This is total BS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Special meeting , passes with no public comment.
    Does the law not state you have to change a meeting time and give written public notice of no less than 2 weeks ?
    Let me know if i am right please.
    This is not the ned of this deal, it is going to the legal system boys and girls.

    • A couple of things the we want to state on the record:

      1) We did alert people about this special meeting last week in our previous story on the Public Safety building. This was not completely unannounced. Due to a clerical error, were did not receive the full details of this meeting until the last minute, but we were alerted about the meeting a week in advance and we passed that information along.
      2) While the plat and UPUR were “passed”, these are merely advance steps to the process. The plat does not do much more than show the boundaries of the land and put on the record who owns what portion of the property. Any building that is built (public o privately) has to have a plat filed with the governing bodies of that land. THE UPUR is somewhat pointless since the UPUR was for a public safety building at 10th and Main. If the city wishes to use that land for any other reason, they will have to obtain a new UPUR. The budget, allocation of funds, mill levy increase, etc. have not been “passed” yet and those discussions (and possible public hearings) will come up in later weeks or months.

      I have said this before and will say it again: If someone wants to comment to the City Council they should contact their leaders, or better yet, show up to these meetings. There were three people at the meeting on Tuesday who did not have business on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. We try to do our best to keep the public informed as much as possible, but the best way to keep informed and be able to speak to you representatives is to try to attend at least some of the City Council, Planning Commission, or School Board meetings.

  • I’m really not sure what was done behind anyone’s back and I’m not sure how you could be any more open than discussing the issue in open session in a public building open to all who wished to attend. I guess some people are going to complain regardless.

    I would like to compliment the city administrator for his leadership and the council for their consideration of this project. I do feel, however, that the leadership of the fire department has been very quiet on this issue. It would seem that they would be out in front of this issue if it is really all that important to them. Again, good job to the council and city administrator. Balancing the safety needs of the community with the realities of budget constraints can’t be easy.

  • Holy Cow! $4 million! I help people in the community and really everywhere these days and would love to just have funding, LOL. I vote for selling the prime property and building on another location in the distant future. Like everyone else we should be trying to save and not spend, spend, spend. I realize the city’s needs but we dont have to be so fancy! I think there are a few help agencies that could use some much needed funds, like say St. Paul food pantry, Eudora ACES, and His Hands CLothing CLoset and I am sure a few other good ones but these being the most important groups that need your funding. I think about those in need before greed….. Just sayin…. Christine/His Hands Clothing Closet

  • hey John
    Was it not written that the monday meeting was changed to tuesday one night later ? or was it one week later ?
    I also thought that a city meeting had to be in written notice for no less than 14 days , is this not true ?
    Any way , i think that this needs to be a topic that should go to a public vote , not a city leader vote. This is a whole lot of money and the amount of mill increase is a very very large amount for some to absorb with everything else that is costing more nowadays.
    I have to also ask this…
    Why now and why 10th and main st, why not an offstreet for way less money and a lesser building, and maybe include a storm shelter ( concrete building ) for tornados ?
    I think a whole lot more needs to be looked at before this is even thought about being built. I think our city leaders are off to a premature start. I think we people who pay them need to get more involved in it as well.
    I still stick to my thoughts that This City Council and Administrator have and are not business friendly at all !!!!!
    They are not putting business first . Business is what this city needs most of all now and in the future to survive….
    Anyone else care to comment ?????

  • Amen to the tornado shelters being built. After living in the trailer court for 17+ yrs and having to scurry for a safe place to be I think this should be priority. It would not just be for folks that live in trailers but a lot of people who dont have basements either who live in slab houses could benefit from the safety this could provide. We need somewhere for a safety shelter. If Joplin,and some of the latest tornadoes does not speak volumes to this, what could? There is not always time to get on the highway to go to someone elses home with a basement for safety. I am not into politics so could care less about the rest. Safety, and raising taxes, and helping others who have been really hit hard in this economy that is what concerns me the most! Here is another question for you though? It was said West Elementary would be closed for 2 yrs and then re opened, what happened to this plan? Some districts are still utilizing their old schools and going on field trips and not cash strapped and worried about laying off more teachers… Why cant we be more like them. I went to a very old school, that is still standing. All those years of asbestos safety for what? Those 3 hour movies are super boring! I, for one, would rather see my tax dollars go to teaching, and field trips again. Children need field trips, not new rock walls and all the fancy playground equiptment, they seem to keep getting hurt on. I can think of so many ways to spend $4 million dollars..

  • I’m interested in what, exactly, the city needs to do to be seen as more “business friendly”. The biggest problem facing many businesses in Eudora is a lack of local patronage. I’m not sure what the city can do about that – although there are efforts being made. The CVB committee is currently working to develop branding materials for Eudora that will help the marketing efforts of all local businesses. I’m sure the Chamber (a volunteer organization) would welcome any assistance that anyone would like to provide. Saying the city and Chamber do “nothing” to promote local business is not only wrong, it hurts the efforts that are currently underway. The past 3+ years have been tough on everyone, however, there are many businesses that are succeeding in Eudora and who are bullish on the city’s future. I can say with certainty that the ramblings of a few negative people do not represent the feelings of the majority of the business community in Eudora.

  • My idea was to have a giveback card like Lawrence does to help other agencies that need it most (as I was saying..). We could stay local, which I do and most of us should try to do more often.. Incentives to stay local like this one, maybe the Eudoracares giveback card, I thought? Each time you go to a local business they scan your card and it donates money to a local charity of your choice, could be the school system, library, any of the other non profits, etc. It would take a little work but to me the effort would be worth it. I have been doing the lawrence giveback for years now. I just give to the humane society since we are not on the card (Eudora). I guess too much red tape. Seems we are a part of Douglas County, but get left out quite often. I am fighting the fight to put us back on the map a little. I fight my way in to all the meetings, and groups, and include the clothing closet into just about everything. Also, most of the clientele from the closet come from and reside in Lawrence. Which I think is cool since they have help agencies and we do not. Well, not much anyway….We should work on this because it will help businesses and bring more in to Eudora. Work on this first, it is all about your priorities… Do you want to look good? I just dont think it needs to be all about that. it does not have to be fancy to work.

  • I can give you specific examples. There has never been lack of local patronage in my business downtown in the last year we have been open, I have successful paid my bills for the last year we have been open. The business has paid for itself and would continue to be successful for anyone who wanted to open and take the time to stay and fight to make a business here and sometime could make an actual income. But when I applied for a downtown grant I was told I could not use it to promote my business or advertise my business, I could only use it to fix up the building, in which I do not own, I rent. So what was the point? The City does nothing to help advertise or bring patrons downtown, I had to go out and do that on my own. I had to advertise and do that on my own and I did. I brought the people to my shop along with the other downtown businesses help each other and in fact, word of mouth from other businesses from other towns sent customers from my own town to me that was not aware I was even there. I was visited by a City member and a Member of the Chamber of Commerce on 2 occasions in a year, and promised to be provided with information on how to join and told what they planned to do for advertisement or what ideas that they were considering for adverstisements, but never received any information or any follow up information. The City does not promote downtown as they say they are going to do, they do not provide assistance for the businesses to promote themselves. Unless it is for “appearance” only. They don’t seem to care whether the business succeeds or not, just whether the building looks good. So I have been disappointed with both the city and chamber of commerce since opening my business. So while I may not represent the community or the majority, I can only tell you how my experience has been being a new business in the downtown.

  • Kim – as a downtown business, you were at least ELIGIBLE for the grant. The majority of the businesses in Eudora are not downtown or in the area designated for the grants and were not able to benefit from the grant money. I have never understood why businesses in the “downtown” area are somehow different than other businesses. I own a business and I can tell you that one of my largest expenses is my marketing budget. I have never expected the city or the chamber to help foot that bill. I don’t feel like it’s the city’s responsibility to market my individual business. I can’t speak for the past, but I can tell you that there are at least a couple of projects underway that are going to help all businesses in Eudora. However, in order to take full advantage of the opportunities, there may be costs to individual businesses. That’s capitalism. I’m sorry you feel you had a bad experience with the city and the chamber. I know that no one in either of those entities want to discourage business in this community. They are doing the best they can and are always open to those willing to help.

  • I think i can speak for 95% of the businesses in Eudora. “we dont make a living wage with them ”
    I know of not one business in Eudora that makes real money.
    They get by and pay the bills. That is a tough way to do business and its hard on you.
    greenman. What the city could do is what ALL other cities do to promote there downtowns by having a few local TV and radio advertising campaigns a year to boost traffic. BUT Eudora does ZERO ZILCH NOTTA NOTHING NOT DAM# Thing for them.
    Infact what Kim said about our city leaders that are now running the show, they DONT stop in and see what is happening in the businesses.
    Chery Beaty stopped in EVERy SINGLE WEEK and asked how things are going and would we like some info from her on Mainstreet programs. That was awesome !!! That gal did TONS for Eudora and on her own time, not on the payroll clock !!!
    In the last 2 years our city administrater has stopped in our store 1 time and it wasnt to ask about how is business.
    As for the grant money, yea that was a joke like Kim said.
    It was for the building owners only, for the most part, because it was to spruse up the buildings and most of the building owners dont give a CRAP about Eudora.
    Most live out of town or have had them passed down to them and they hate even owning them.
    Part 1 of 2

  • Part 2 of 2
    And the city changed the rules each week on what the grant money would be ok for and it ended up going to a NON Downtown business.
    Tha grant was a Downtown Grant Program, not an off street business program.
    Anyway, the current city leaders are doing nothing to promote downtown and any business for that matter.
    Above in part 1 i meant to spell Cheryl Beaty (ex city admin) she was awesome to work with and took this city to a whole new level that is now gone and back to the old ways of being bla bla bla and pretty much blaaaaa.
    I wish Kim and Jerry all the best in the new business in another town. Eudora is a terrible place to open a business.
    Anyone else thinking of opening a busines in Eudora, think real hard about it and think this ” would i like to get kicked in the Nut##@# or start abusiness ? Either way your going to go down in flames.
    Gas stations and Food Stores, that is all that can make some money in Eudora.You wont get rich, but youl pay your bills and those city bills just keep getting BIGGER adn BIGGER .
    Another whole issue. Water and Electric have went up 400% in 4 years. Thats a great business call by the city to cash in on taking your disposible income away from you, thank them…
    City bill in 2007 avg $75.00 City Bill in 2012 $325.00 and going up monthly.
    And we dont even have a McDonolds to eat at !!!!!
    Life in Eudora is good !!!!!!!