The Ellinwood City Council met Monday night in a special meeting to consider an agreement that would put an end to a year-long debacle that had not only caused one Ellinwood family countless financial headaches, but also prompted community members to publicly declare their dissatisfaction with the city over the handling of a public improvement project gone awry. The council went into executive session for 10 minutes for a discussion of the possible property acquisition. Upon returning to open session, Mayor Irlan Fullbright summarized the discussion.
Mark and Cassie Batchman, owners of the property at 104 N. Main, contacted city staff regarding a proposal to sell the property to the City. The building is adjoined to a building the city began demolishing in September, 2014, after the city consulted with Engineers to receive an opinion of how to progress with the work. However, part way into the demolition, it became apparent that the work would need to be halted to avoid damage to the Batchman’s building. It was later determined by an engineering consultant, Don McMican, with DGM Consultants, P.A. that more care needed to be taken while removing roof timbers to avoid further damage to the wall connected to the Batchman property.
The Batchmans approached the city with an offer to sell the building for $15,000, and they would remove all their personal property, with closing to be set on or before Nov. 9. The city took the opportunity to cap their liability at the price, avoiding the possibility of any additional liability when demolition resumes.
Councilperson Kirk Clawson made the motion to purchase the property for the agreed on price and terms presented, and the council gave their unanimous approval.
City Attorney Bob Peter then went on record clarifying that there had never been any admission on the city’s part that there was any fault. Also, Fullbright clarified that the demolition of city buildings was stopped before any damage was done to the building. City Manager Bud Newberry emphasized that the city did not make an offer to the Batchmans. “We just want to make it clear it was an unsolicited offer from the Batchmans to the city, and that they are perfectly satisfied with the deal,” he said.
Approval of a new utility easement was also on the agenda. As part of the KDOT project to rebuild storm drainage along Hwy 56 through Ellinwood, existing utilities that run down the center of Santa Fe will be moved to a location south of the highway. This new utility easement will allow the city and several other utility companies to place their services in the new location.
All property is owned by the city, so no outside permission and payment needed. Utility companies affected include H&B Communications, Century Link, and a gas company. Newberry described the location of the new easement as including property recently acquired from the Krier estate, and also behind the Dollar General building. He also provided an update on progress Kirkham Michael is making with securing easements with the railroad. Newberry added that he had received a nod from Barton County’s cartographer, B.J. Wooding. The council approved the motion to access utility easements for the KDOT project, and adjourned. The next regular meeting of the Ellinwood City Council will be Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at the city office.