By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
Much discussion was conducted over the items on the Liberal City Commissions’s agenda at its most recent meeting Tuesday night, which took place in full chambers.
There was discussion of transferring real estate to Park Properties Inc. The property is at 11th Street and Calvert in northeast Liberal. It’s to be used by USD No. 480 for its school expansion project associated with the recently passed bond issue.
According to the meeting’s agenda packet, there are six lots northwest of that intersection that had been deeded by previous owners through Park Properties Inc. to the city in 1976 for use as a green space – or park area. Since the city never built on the property, it can now convey the land back to Park Properties, which can then sell the lots to USD 480. The lots will then need to be rezoned and replotted for use in the school district’s school expansion plans.
Citizen Steve Rogacki, however, voiced some concerns prior to the measure being passed unanimously.
“I was surprised when I saw this in the paper that this was supposed to be for the school, but the city is giving it to some different outfit to sell it to the school district,” he said. “It just seems odd that now the school’s interested in it. It’s never been developed, and the city never said ‘hey that’s really ours we’d like to do something with it.’ It’s just really odd.”
One of the earlier items was Liberal Fire Chief Kelly Kirk presenting the Fire Department Award to Nick Schwindt, who will be retiring from the volunteer fire department after 28-and-a-half years of service.
“Some of the best career advice that I ever got and that is still given out is ‘look around and find all the guys who have the best attributes, are admired by their peers and model yourself after that,’” Kirk said. “When I started in 1991, Nick Schwindt really quickly made it to the top of that list – he was one of those guys who I looked up to and admired and modeled myself after.”
“I appreciate it Kelly, you’ve been great to work with,” Schwindt said upon accepting the award.
Another major item on the agenda was the approval of a “learning plane” classroom by the Mid America Air Museum. Janese Thatcher, the dean of the Area Technical School, was very excited about the project.
Thatcher said the unique classroom would be used to help students understand practical applications of certain math and science concepts.
“Right now, when students are in school, very often they think ‘I don’t understand why we have to use this math’ or ‘why we have to learn this science,” she said. “So what this is designed to do is help the teachers make the students aware of why they need to learn math, why they need to learn science. So there’s real world applications.”
Thatcher said the new plane is expected to be delivered to the museum either June 5 or 6. She also talked about other uses for the classroom, including how the fire department will also be able to use it to practice extraction. The measure, which Thatcher said she hopes to include USD 480, passed unanimously, with all commissioners praising the idea
Yet another agenda item that drew a lot of discussion was changes to the new construction single family and multi-family housing incentive programs. The changes to the single-family incentive program included that the incentive would be raised to $5,000, funding of which would come from the housing and community development portion of the 1-cent sales tax.
The new changes also include a yearly budget of $160,000 unless there are changes made and approved by the commission. This would apply to 32 new single dwelling homes here.
Changes to the new construction multi-family housing incentive program included a $3,000 incentive per new rental unit and funding for this would also come from the economic development portion of the 1-cent sales tax. Commissioners discussed how there’s no similar programs in the surrounding areas.
However, Rogacki aging brought some concerns to the commission about these changes.
“I like the fact that no one else around here is doing it, but I don’t think that’s a recommendation for doing it,” he said.
All changes presented were unanimously passed, with commissioner Ron Warren leaving the chambers and abstaining from the vote.
Other items were also discussed throughout the meeting, including further discussion on the upcoming 11th Street water project, a sealing project west of Kansas Avenue and south of the railroad tracks, and the appointment of Stan Lehnert to a full-time appointment on the board at Liberal Memorial Library.
During the city manager’s report and items from commissioners, and Hall expressed appreciation at the volunteer and work that went in to the many events that happened throughout the weekend, including the car show and the many graduations that took place in town. Commissioners echoed his sentiments.
“The city came out in full force – the parks looked great, and the parks department did a wonderful job. Everything was great this weekend,” said commissioner Janet Willimon.
After discussion of the vouchers, Mayor Joe Denoyer declared the meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.