Population increases 4 percent
De Soto's most recent census estimates affirmed one point for city administrator Greg Johnson -- it's good a new sewer plant is on the way.
"I think we've seen that for the past year," Johnson said of the rising population. "The city's been reviewing its long-term sewer needs. That's all related to managing our existing growth and growth that's expected to occur in the future."
De Soto's population grew more than 4 percent since the previous estimate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's annual population estimates released last Thursday. For the first time the city's population topped 5,000, and planners want to be sure the city is prepared for even more people in the future.
De Soto's growth percentages have compounded each of the past four years.
The Census Bureau reported that on July 1, 2004, De Soto's estimated population was 5,070. That's a jump of 215 people, or 4.4 percent, from the previous year's tally of 4,855.
The year before, De Soto grew by only 2.7 percent. The 2003 tally of 4,855 was up from 4,728 in 2002.
Growth was even smaller between 2001 and 2002. The population grew just 1.5 percent, from 4,658 in 2001.
A new De Soto wastewater treatment facility is scheduled to be up and running by the first part of 2007, Johnson said.
Johnson said the relationship between sewer infrastructure and community growth was symbiotic. The sewer must be in place to accommodate new growth, but it also helps attract new development.
"If you look at what drives growth in a community over the long term as far as infrastructure concerns, sewer is at the top of the list," Johnson said.
De Soto Mayor Dave Anderson said the community's growth was a healthy sign for De Soto and that he expected increases to continue.
Anderson said he thought De Soto's small-town attributes such as alleyways, a traditional downtown and community feeling drew many new residents to the city.
"All of these things are what I think a lot of the people remember growing up in," Anderson said. "People wave at each other while they're driving down Lexington Avenue -- just little things, but they mean a lot to people when they feel comfortable and secure."
For others, the city's new subdivisions and its location near a major highway between Lawrence and the metropolitan area was enticing, Anderson said.
Compared to growth of other small towns in the area, De Soto's population increase was in the middle.
Between 2003 and 2004, Wellsville and Osawatomie each grew less than 1 percent, Baldwin grew 1.6 percent, and Eudora grew 4.4 percent. On the high end, the populations in Gardner, Spring Hill and Basehor grew by more than 10 percent.
Numbers cited are annual estimates of the population for Kansas cities through July 1, 2004. The census bureau makes the estimates each year and releases them the following June.
Johnson said he hoped diversification -- a balance of residential and commercial development -- would come with the city's population growth.
That was the focus of a workshop last week that De Soto Planning Commission and city council members attended.
Planners used the workshop to brainstorm ways to gird for growth, specifically on De Soto's west side, Johnson said. He said all agreed that developing a detailed area plan would help growth occur smoothly.