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Ellinwood city council considers Splash Pad funding
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Chris Komarek attended the Ellinwood City Council meeting Tuesday night as the interim City Manager. He replaces Bud Newberry who resigned at a special meeting at the end of March for personal reasons. - photo by Veronica Coons, Tribune staff

Other items of discussion and actions taken included:

* Mark Chesney from the Kansas Power Pool invited members of the council to attend the Kansas Municipal Utilities annual conference in Wichita May 4. Speaker Jeremy Hill will release a population forecast for each county in the state that weekend. He also invited any of the members who wished to attend the fall planning retreat in Wichita Sept. 9 and 10. Chesney provided an update on the KPP portfolio, and answered questions about wind power. 
* A Citizen’s Hearings were held in regard to Notice of Vehicle Nuisance. Matthew Hostler was notified he would need to register, insure and make operable a vehicle parked at his residence. Hostler said the vehicle’s ownership is in dispute due to divorce proceedings. The council agreed to allow him 60 days to get the problem resolved. 
* A Citizen’s Hearings were held in regard to Notice of Vehicle Nuisance. Monte Strecker was notified he would have to register two vehicles parked at his residence. He had chosen not to because he does not drive the vehicles, and was not aware they needed to be since they were not parked on the street. He agreed to get them registered by the end of the month. 
* Jacque Isern with the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce reported on After Harvest Festival activities planned, and asked the city for permission to allow sale and consumption of malt beverages at the City Park on Saturday night of the festival. The council approved the request. They also approved a request to have the street department provide temporary signage to allow parking on only one side of S. Fritz Street during the horseshoe tournament to avoid congestion. 
* Monte Strecker asked the city for permission to hold a drone demonstration at the football field the Saturday evening during the After Harvest Festival. The city approved his request.
* Isern reminded the council this weekend will be the All-City Garage Sale. She asked if they would allow a city-wide clean up with dumpsters during the following week. The cost last year was $3,000, but council members were reluctant to consider the request. No action was taken.
* Heard a proposal to remodel the Ellinwood city building. The council asked for estimates to be supplied and it will consider the request.
* Komarek reported he had been in contact with one of two companies recommended to the city for conducting a housing assessment. He will report further at the next meeting. It will take six to eight weeks for the assessment to be completed, which will provide plenty of time for the next round of grants being sought by two companies interested in building moderate income housing in the city.
* Approved an amendment to the KPP operating agreement.
* Named Komarek as an alternate KMU Voting Delegate, replacing Dave Lloyd.
* Heard staff reports.

Several points of new business made for a long but informative Ellinwood City Council meeting Tuesday night. Mayor Irlan Fullbright congratulated returning council persons James McCormick and Kirk Clawson, as well as newly elected Ken Lebbin who will filled an open spot. Also-ran Kathy Hines was also in attendance at the meeting, and during visitor comments congratulated Lebbin for his success, before objecting to the decision to install Chris Komarek as the acting City Manager following Bud Newberry’s resignation earlier in March.
Fullbright accepted her criticism, shutting her down by stating that he and the council would take her opinion under consideration, and that nothing further need be said at that time.
Other visitor’s comments included one from an individual who expressed concern over the security at the airport, where building materials had come up missing. He also expressed his concern about illegal use of the compost area there, stating that some people had dumped old furniture and other trash there, and that wind had carried debris onto the runway. Fullbright assured him the council would look into ways to halt these occurrences, including the possibility of installing fencing.

Splash Pad update
Rosie Joiner, a member of the Ellinwood Rotary Club, presented an update on the club’s progress securing funding for a Splash Pad to be installed at Ellinwood’s City Park near the public pool. The project’s estimated cost for the pad, water features, and installation of all trains, valves, controllers, site improvements by the city like grading, sodding and installing electrical and plumbing is $113,712.50. So far, the club has raised all but $36,737 in cash and in-kind donations, grants, and cash pledges.
Joiner noted that she is thrilled with the generosity of the people, businesses and organizations of Ellinwood and the surrounding area who have stepped up to help with the project, and she knows if not for the current state of the economy, those donations would have been higher.
Prior to Newberry’s resignation in March, the club was working on acquiring a federal grant that likely would have brought in the final amount needed, but now prospects for that are nill, she said. She asked the council, in light of this, if there was some way the city could assist the club. Some suggestions included assessing how revenue for the pool is collected, and if the admission is in line with neighboring cities. Hoisington and Lyons, she noted, add a fee to the monthly utility bill, spreading the cost of operating the pool among all the residents, and she asked for the council to consider if Ellinwood would benefit from a similar approach. Also, she asked them to consider if there was any money that could be accessed from the current year’s budget.
Fullbright, a member of the Rotary club, noted the Splash Pad started out as a private venture.
“I feel any money needs to come through the budget process,” he said. That could mean waiting until the next budget cycle.
Ellinwood City Attorney Bob Peter, who is stepping in to help with city management questions in the interim, agreed that any money that could be accessed this year would have to be diverted from something else already budgeted for. Still, he felt it would be a quick study and he could report on his findings at the May meeting. The council was agreeable to this.

Chip and seal
Ellinwood has not had chip and seal applied to streets in the city since 2010, and the asphalt of those streets has taken a beating, Komarek said. Prior to 2010, one third of the streets received the treatment every year. It’s time to take up the practice again, he said. He provided the council with a few options, including doing all of the streets at once, or splitting the job into two or three phases. The entire project would require between 90 and 100 cubic yards of rock and oil.
While doing the whole city at once provided the best pricing per yard, it would require more than the city had budgeted for the project. Instead, council members opted to approve the project up to $72,000.
“We can do as much as we can for the money we have,” Komarek said. “It needs to be done.”
This means a little more than half the streets will be treated this year, with those roads in most need being the highest priority. Streets that were paved in concrete in recent years will be at the bottom of the priority list.

With no further business, the council adjourned. The next regular meeting of the Ellinwood City Council will be on Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. at the city offices.