By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
City backs bike, pedestrian master plan
new deh city council pic
This building at 1401 Second in Great Bend was the topic of an unsafe structure hearing at the City Council meeting Monday night. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 In other business Monday night, the City Council:

 • Held a hearing on unsafe and dangerous structures at 1401 Second Street. At the April 6 Council meeting, a resolution was adopted that set a public hearing Monday night on the building. 

After the hearing was closed, the council approved a resolution finding that structures are unsafe and dangerous (one old furniture store and one old house) and directed that it be removed by the owner, and the failure by the owner would cause it to be ordered be razed and removed.

Both owners of record for the property, Russell J. and Ida Chambers, are deceased. Officials looked for possible heirs.

Inspection of the premises has been completed, said Code Enforcement Officer Stuart Baker. The structure is not occupied and t here is no utilities in service at this time.

It has been allowed to be in such a state of disrepair and overgrown with vegetation that it is considered to be unsafe and dangerous, Baker said. The condition of the premises is an eminent danger to the adjacent property owners and to the public and it  is a blighting influence on the adjacent neighborhood.

It will likely cost about $10,000 to have the property cleared, Baker said. The project will be put out for bid and the work should be done by later this summer. If no contractor comes forward, the work will be handled by city crews.

• Approved a resolution requesting the Kansas Department of Commerce designate certain lots in The Fairways at StoneRidge as a Rural Housing Incentive District area. At the April 20 City Council meeting, support was given to send a letter to the Kansas Department of Commerce requesting that the FairWays at Stone Ridge be added to the list of areas eligible for the creation of a  RHID. After sending that letter, the KDOC and the law firm of Gilmore and Bell found that the city must begin all over to create additional RHID areas.

If this new RHID is approved by the KDOC, the city would hold a public hearing. That would be followed by an ordinance outlining a development agreement.

There are 30 lots in the area and the agreement would set a minimum number of homes to be built within the RHID’s 15-year lifespan. The houses would be built by a private developer and would likely be higher-end homes. 

• Approved an abatement at 5501 9th (lot 26), owned by Leon Stos Jr., for a motor vehicle nuisance.

• Heard an economic development report from Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters.  

• Approved a resolution transferring funds from the construction fund (75) to the aquatic fund (53). The city’s auditors recommended the resolution as being needed because fund 75 is classified as a capital fund and the transfer helps fund the operation of the aquatics facility, said City Clerk Amit Patel.

• Heard a departmental update from City Administrator Howard Partington.

 Agreeing that it is important for Great Bend residents to be more active, the City Council Monday night threw its support behind a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian master plan being developed by Be Well Barton County.

Be Well Barton County, a county-wide task force promoting healthier lifestyles, had asked for appointment of a city representative to a steering committee to help shape the plan. It’s goal would be to develop a meaningful and usable outline, said Sue Cooper, program officer for the Golden Belt Community Foundation and Be Well coordinator. 

“This ensures the master plan not only creates a cohesive vision, but also has a realistic implementation phase,” Cooper said. The time frame will be approximately four to six months with the first meeting to come in July or August. 

Councilwoman Allene Owen volunteered to sit on the committee. It was also suggested that a member of the Great Bend Youth Academy take part. 

“The purpose of the Barton County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan is to produce a vision that may be used by the county and cities for planning and development,” Cooper said. “We want it to be a resource for the communities.”

Cooper said Barton County has already agreed to be involved. Be Well members will also visit with officials in Claflin, Ellinwood and Hoisington. 

In addition to the planning, a big part of this effort will be educating the public, Cooper said. “We want people to be mobile.”

“I am glad you are picking this up,” Owen said of the cause. The city has been working for years on plans and pedestrian projects and now these have another champion.

Owen said she’s seeing more and more people on bicycles. “It’s catching on. It’s happening and we need to help to promote it.”

In addition to bikes, it was stressed that walking and other forms of active transportation would be taken into account.

This led to a discussion about the condition of the city’s sidewalks. Councilman Matt Hiss said many of these sidewalks are in bad shape.

Some on the council took offense to this, noting it is the property owners responsibility to pay for improvements. The city does offer two programs that will cover up to $500 to sidewalk repairs.

The programs has been in place for a couple years, but only five residents have taken advantage of them.

Be Well Barton County is picking up the tab for the plan, Cooper said. It is contracting with RDG Planning and Design of Omaha, Neb., for the work.

The firm has experience creating such studies, Cooper said. It has and has been under contract with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Department of Transportation for efforts on the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway so it has hands-on experience with the area.   

Specifically, Be Well will be working with Marty Shukert, principal architect at RDG. He has also developed plans for Hays and Leawood.

It was Shukert who worked with the city 15 years ago on a housing study which helped lead to the Amber Meadows project.