Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2006

Council acts to get traffic signal installed

October 26, 2006

The De Soto City Council took another step toward creating a benefit district to help finance a traffic signal at Lexington Avenue and Commerce Drive.

The council agreed last Thursday to have a public hearing Nov. 19 on the creation of a benefit district to pay for the light.

The council agreed last summer to place a light installed this year at the increasingly dangerous intersection.

At that time, the council agreed to explore creating a benefit district with the city assuming 55 percent of the project's cost. After that decision, city engineer Mike Brungardt sent letters to property owners on Commerce Drive and 91st Street asking if they would willingly participate in a benefit district on a square foot basis.

Since that time, the city sought and received bids for the project. Brungardt told the council last Thursday that bids came in lower than expected. The low bid of $99,000 from Wildcat Signal was about $35,000 less than his estimate, he said.

As for the letters to the business owners, Brungardt said the city had received a number of replies back. While Huhtamaki Americas Inc., Team Bank, Pizza Hut, Olathe Medical Center and K-Ten Commerce Park owner Kent Fry said they would participate in the benefit district, the owners of Rehrig Pacific Co. said the assessment would be unfair and counter-productive to the city's economic development effort.

Company president William Rehrig wrote that although the factory occupied considerable space, its small workforce didn't produce much traffic.

"Furthermore, it has been my impression that the city has actively campaigned for growth. It seems odd then that when the growth is achieved, the city searches for ways to pay for needed infrastructure," the letter concluded.

Mayor Dave Anderson said the letter made a good point, but said the Kansas Department of Transportation hadn't authorized a light at the intersection when the city entered into the agreement with Rehrig that brought the company to De Soto.

Those responding in favor of a benefit district equaled 40 percent of the property owners within the proposed benefit district, or 11 percent shy of the 51 percent needed to overcome a possible protest petition, Brungardt said. With that, he suggested the council establish a date for a public hearing to establish the district.

The council agreed, scheduling the public hearing for its second November meeting, but Councilwoman Mitra Templin emphasized the vote was just to have the public hearing and that no final decision would be made.

With design, pole and finance charges, total project costs for the signal would come to $180,000 to $190,000, Brungardt said.

The city budgeted money to install the light in 2007, but it was agreed a budget amendment would be passed should the city be in position to install the signal this year.

The required 30-day protest period after a council vote to establish a protest petition makes a 2006 installation schedule tight.

Also at Brungardt's suggestion, the council agreed to place a stop sign on Commerce Drive at triangular intersection to Huhtamaki. Brungardt said a Johnson County Sheriff's deputy pointed out that eastbound Commerce Drive traffic could pull in front of vehicles entering the Huhtamaki access road from the nort

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