Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

Leavenworth County Commission to look at turnpike corridor’s funding options

April 26, 2007

Leavenworth County commissioners are exploring ways to recovering the county's funding share for improving a six-mile stretch of County Road 1, the access road leading to a proposed interchange with the Kansas Turnpike.

Indications from a meeting Monday are the county will look to recover funds from future developers in the area, which runs from U.S. Highway 24-40 to Kansas Highway 32, west and south of Tonganoxie.

There has been talk in Johnson County of linking a future north/south road from Gardner through the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant to the improved road, providing a corridor from Interstate 35 to the turnpike.

Pete Heaven, a land-use attorney with Lathrop and Gage of Overland Park, told commissioners several options existed for the county to recoup its $8 million commitment to the project, without unduly affecting current property owners.

Heaven recommended use of a benefit district to "not only recoup the expenditure but also create a huge tax base for the county that will survive for many years."

Heaven envisioned a commercial and industrial center similar to Metcalf Avenue in Johnson County -- with infrastructure costs charged back to future property owners.

Residents have protested improvements to County Road 1, citing concerns regarding the safety of the road, the true cost of the project, its general necessity and the change in the rural nature of the area..

Heaven said there were "a variety of tools" the county could use to ensure existing landowners would not face an increased property tax burden with nearby development.

Ultimately the board approved a motion, 3-0, to continue a relationship with Lathrop and Gage and discussed sending out requests for proposals for a planning and an engineering consultant to aid the county in the undertaking.

Heaven and Van Parys said the next step for the county was to determine the scope of the project and consider starting work on sewer systems along the access corridor.

Overall Leavenworth County has committed $8 million to the County Road 1 project, with $2 million more coming from the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

It is yet to be determined how the remaining $2.96 million needed for the project will be supplied.

Commissioner Dean Oroke said a $1 million commitment from the city of Tonganoxie or the federal government has not been ruled out and that the original cost estimate for the project was "in 2009 dollars" and included "$1.78 million in inflation."

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