Archive for Thursday, January 17, 2002

Seeking community consensus

Residents invited to speak out on Sunflower’s future

January 17, 2002

The city of De Soto, De Soto USD 232 and the Explorer hosted a community forum on the future of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant Monday.

The purpose of the community meeting was to share the responses on important questions concerning Sunflower's future developed in December by representatives of city government, the school district, the business community and civic organizations. The 13 community leaders at that first meeting broke into three discussion groups to consider the questions. The different groups brought unique views to the table but were united in the desire that Sunflower development should include mixed residential, commercial, light industrial and park uses out of the commonly held belief that the community has to increase its tax base. All groups expressed concern that the plant would continue to sit idle or that it would become a 9,000-acre park.

A complete list of the responses developed at the December meeting can be found below. Monday, we met to ask community members if we were on the right track or totally off base. Despite less-than-anticipated attendance, the discussion was instructive and lively. It was decided to schedule a second community forum with the hope more of our residents will attend to share their ideas about an issue critical to De Soto's future. We would like to hear from as many residents as possible. With so many intelligent and creative people in the community, we might find an idea that could be the key to Sunflower's future.

For those who can't attend, we would welcome written comment as well. Residents can write or drop off their comments at the Chamber of Commerce office at 33150 W. 83rd Street, City Hall or the Explorer office in downtown De Soto.

The date of future town hall meetings on Sunflower will be published in the Explorer.

The questions asked at the leadership forum and the responses of the three groups were:

What is the highest, most effective use of Sunflower land?

Industry (including utilities), residential and property for future schools.

A self-sufficient/self-sustaining community providing financial advantages to the city and school district.

Commercial development and light industry.

Should the Sunflower decision be left to the county or does the city of De Soto have a role?

It should be a cooperative effort between the city and county.

De Soto and neighboring cities have a role.

De Soto and Johnson County should enter into an interlocal land-use agreement.

What do you want to see resolved?

The city of De Soto and school district have a voice or become a partner with the county and neighboring cities.

The plant's cleanup within a specific time frame.

Immediate confirmation of public benefit transfer requests and a plan for roads and access.

What should Mayor Dave Anderson take to the next level?

A united community voice to the Johnson County Commission.

A message on what the community wants.

Demand that the city and school district have a voice and part in the decision-making process.

What don't you want to see happen?

A poorly developed land-use plan.

The entire plant becomes parkland or the plant remains idle. Development that makes it an integral part in K-10 "Smart Corridor" development.

Anything that doesn't create jobs, improve infrastructure or becomes a tax burden.

What is your greatest fear concerning Sunflower's future?

Nothing happens.

It becomes an adversarial issue between the city and county.

The city and school district have no say.

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