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City moves ahead with quality of life projects
Projects covered by sales tax OKed last November
quality of life plan pic
Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis, left, presents to the City Council Monday night a quality of life capital improvement plan for the spending of the sales tax approved by voters last November, Also pictured are council members Brock McPherson and Alan Moeder. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

The Great Bend City Council will vote when it meets Oct. 4 on the first projects to be funded by the quality of life sales tax approved by voters last November. That was the consensus of council members meeting Monday night in study session addressing a 10-year quality of life capital improvement plan.

These are the projects to be completed yet this year. The council thought by completing these, the public would start seeing tangible results from the tax measure.

This past spring, the City of Great Bend Quality of Life Committee was formed. The purpose of the group was to look at how to best spend funds generated by the .15% sales tax.

Then, come May, the group released a public survey. The purpose is to seek some feedback from citizens of all ages. 

The culmination of all those meetings and survey results were presented Monday night. 

“The 13 of us spent the last six months putting together a capital improvement plan for the quality of life sales tax,” said City Administrator Kendal Francis who was on the committee. “I think we got a lot accomplished” and the public will start seeing the tax they voted for producing results.

But, “this isn’t written in stone,” Francis said, speaking to the council gathered at City Hall. “Priorities may change” the plan can be adapted.

Francis presented the council with a spreadsheet listing out the projects for the next decade, along with projected costs. Most of the items on the list were the top responses to the public survey.

Francis said there were around 1,400 respondents covering most age groups. In all, they suggested 75 projects in three price categories ranging from under $50,000 to over $200,000.

Francis said they picked the top handful from each category to wrap into the plan.

The top two vote getters were a citywide cleanup (which starts this weekend, but doesn’t use sales tax funding) and a splash pad (this is in the works for 2023 at a cost of about $240,000).

Other projects include:

• Upgrading public bathrooms.

• Improving fishing habitats at Veterans Memorial Lake and Stone Lake.

• Improvements to the dog park.

• Extending the hike-bike path (possibly as far as Veterans Park).

• Improvements to Brit Spaugh Zoo.

• A paintball course (possibility to be located at the Expo Complex).

•  Bathrooms at Langrehr Field. 

• A public shooting range (perhaps located in conjunction with the Police Department’s facility west of town).

Funding for all of these was included in the plan over the next 10 years.

Of these, the ones included for 2022 are:

• Restroom upgrades (using automatic timed locks) for year-round access).

• Better lighting on the Veterans Memorial Park walking path.

• Reviving the sidewalk improvement cost-share program.

• The fishing habitats (working with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks)

• Additional Christmas lights with the goal of making this a “Christmas City.”

• Dog park updates (perhaps making separate areas for large and small dogs).

• Funds for what is know as the Brit Spaugh Project (the development of the south end of Brit Spaugh in cooperation with the Great Bend Recreation Commission). 

In all, these total $350,000 for this year. The estimated revenue from the tax comes to an estimated $566,628 per year.

As for the Brit Spaugh initiative, this could involve outdoor basketball and pickleball courts, a playground, soccer field and restrooms.

The plan he presented sets aside about $750,000 over the next three years for this. There may be private funds included as well.

Updates to the Wetlands Waterpark were also mentioned. But, Francis said these would likely have to be a separate, bonded project that could run in the millions of dollars.

The committee members are Bruce Swob, Sharon King, Debbie Munz, Stephen Patton, Curtis Arnberger and Kate Wary. Alternate members include Randy Goering and Kaylean Weber. The six join Ward 3 Councilman Cory Urban, Ward 1 Councilwoman Lindsey Krom-Craven, Ward 2 Councilwoman Jolene Biggs, Francis, Public Lands Director Scott Keeler and Great Bend Recreation Commission Assistant Director Chris Umphres.

They looked at the types of amenities that make Great Bend great, from maintaining and improving existing facilities to building new ones.

The tax translates into 15 cents for every $100 spent, and will bring in about $565,000 annually.