Archive for Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lynn introduces riverfront bill

February 14, 2008

TOPEKA - De Soto officials Tuesday urged lawmakers to approve creation of a riverfront authority to help spur development on the Kansas River.

"I believe it (De Soto) is on the verge of great discovery," state Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, told the Senate Committee on Elections and Local Government.

De Soto Mayor David Anderson said the city and Johnson County were already developing a park on the river that "will only enhance our downtown economic survival."

The committee took no action on Senate Bill 518. There were no opponents.

The measure would create a De Soto-Johnson County Riverfront Authority to encourage development along De Soto's riverfront area.

"De Soto is the only city in Johnson County with its downtown on the Kansas River," said Anderson.

The proposed $3.4 million, 50-acre park will be built in stages over five years. A performance stage overlooking the river is expected to be completed this summer.

A riverfront authority would be able to receive land and accept grants. It could not use condemnation to acquire land, nor could it levy taxes, supporters said.

While the city and county are enthusiastic about developing the riverfront, Anderson and Lynn said establishing an authority would enable officials to focus on improvements and increase cooperation.

"It will give momentum to the idea and pull the community together," said Lynn.

The authority would be governed by a six-person board with three members picked by the mayor of De Soto with approval of the city council, and three members appointed by the Johnson County Commission.

Lynn said De Soto's rural location on the river and growing art community make it "completely unique" from other areas of Johnson County.

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