USD 232 Board discusses Sunflower plant, future tax base
The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education discussed the future of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant and how it related to the district's future tax base at its Dec. 17 meeting.
The discussion was a follow up to the community leadership forum earlier this month, which led to suggestions the plant's development include residential, commercial and industrial sites.
"This compared to the Oz plan is totally opposite," said board member Jim Plummer. "That was a privately-owned entity."
The city of De Soto and the school district will host a community forum on Sunflower's redevelopment at 7 p.m. Jan. 14, at Lexington Trails. Mayor Dave Anderson had said the goal of the forum is to listen to what the community has to say about the Sunflower issue. Board member Curtis Allenbrand said he is in favor of mixed land use, which would include both residential and commercial developments. Fellow board member William Waye said the district desperately needed commercial development.
"It can't be all residential or we won't survive," Waye said. "Its getting difficult to manage the school district with the tax base we have. Putting a tax burden on the residential community is tough."
Board Member Marsha Bennett said she didn't think that the school board should make Sunflower a top priority.
"We don't get involved in Shawnee or Lenexa," Bennett said. "As a board, we don't have the right to see how this is developed."
Board member Sandy Thierer said the board should have it say on development in Sunflower but shouldn't decide on what commercial business are chosen to operate there. She also added that the development of Sunflower would affect the cities of Gardner and Eudora as well, but De Soto is the only school district involved.
"We have to do what's in the best interest of the patrons and keep the taxes low so they can continue to support our school district," Thierer said. "I think it's about time that the school board takes a position on it."
Board member Jim Thomas said the board should stand tall and voice its support for commercial development at Sunflower. One of the benefits would be jobs close to the community, Thomas said.
"I think we should talk really loudly," Thomas said. "It would be really ideal if I could get a job where I could ride my bike to my house."
In other board news:
Director of Facilities Denis Johnson said he was extremely pleased with the bids that came in and that the design team was working well together. Johnson talked to the board about a bid for a maintenance free concrete floor at the entrance of Lexington Trails Middle School similar to the floor at the entrance of the district administrative office, which developed cracks.
Thierer said she thought the concrete floor was a good idea that would save money.
"With the time, energy and maintenance, I could live with the crack," Thierer said.
Board member Marsha Bennett said she thinks a carpet would be better for an entrance, but Johnson pointed out that it would require a great deal of maintenance.