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Ellinwoods council and historical society consider brick streets
Preservation options discussed
Ellinwood city offices

Other items of discussion and actions taken included:
• Recognized Ellinwood Fire Captain DJ Knop for 15 years service.
• Approved a request from the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce to use Wolf Park and the Wolf Park band shell for the 2017 Christkindlmarket. 
• Authorized Resolution 101017 for a bond sale, which will open on Nov. 14 and close Nov. 30. 
• Approved EBH for engineering services for $94,500.
• Approved a bond repayment plan for $1.25 million over 13 years, based on annual increased valuation of 1 percent. 
• Approved a bid from Bob’s Oil Service for $6,600 to remove tree debris from north flood control ditch, and $2,580 to finish removing remaining trees left due to fiber optic cable installation.
• Approved purchase of a 2018 Dodge truck with police package from Marmie Motors for $27,970.

ELLINWOOD — Ellinwood Historical Society members hope to see a balanced approach to the way the city determines which of the historic brick streets are repaired and which are replaced in the future. But for now, the city will continue with a plan to remove four blocks deemed the worst in the city, replacing bricks with concrete, city council members decided Tuesday. The replacement is part of the work that will result from an upcoming bond sale.
City Manager Chris Komarek said there are 200 blocks in the city limits, and after the flood control project is completed, all the city can afford to replace at this time is the worst four blocks of streets in the city. After that, it could be five more years before another handful of blocks can be considered.
“We have no intention of replacing all the brick streets. We simply can’t afford it,” he said.
Councilman Ken Lebbin added a price tag to the discussion.
“It boils down to cash flow, like with your household budget,” he said. “It costs $590,680 to replace with concrete all four blocks. With bricks, $966,305 is the final cost for all four blocks. Taxpayers don’t want to pay that much of an increase in mill levy for just four blocks.”
Komarek added the city agrees that the brick streets are worth preserving if at all possible. That is why efforts have been taken to keep semis off the brick streets as portions of Santa Fe are closed during a Kansas Department of Transportation highway project that has gone on for months, and isn’t expected to be completed until the end of December at the earliest.
“We know that it costs money to replace brick streets,” Ellinwood Historical Society President Joyce Schulte said. “It is our hope that an open dialogue can be started.”
Packets handed out to council members, the mayor and Komarek outlined the process cities including Holton, Kansas, and Wellington, N.C., had undergone to save their brick streets. Schulte ask if Ellinwood has a maintenance policy for the streets, and if so, when was the last time it was reviewed. She asked the council to consider involving members of the historical society in the process, stressing the need for transparency and objectivity.
“By our willingness to be involved citizens, perhaps the rest of Ellinwood will look favorably on the decision,” she said. “Let’s open a dialogue that will help save our past, and open our future by attracting heritage tourism, and new businesses and revenue to this city, from that fast growing industry.”
And dialogue did open. Schulte shared how Holton had included public school students in the process of removing brick, cleaning it, and brought in masons to demonstrate how to lay brick streets. The students learned skills, and had a hand in saving their local heritage, she said.
Lebbin suggested looking closer at an earlier proposal to charge a sales tax in the city to be used specifically for maintenance of the streets. The pros and cons of stockpiling brick to reuse for repairs was also broached. Mayor Irlan Fullbright made the point that a decision had already been made on the four blocks in question, after much consideration and consultation with an engineer. He said the city would move forward with that plan, but he was in favor of creating a committee to devise a plan for maintenance in the future.
Council members voiced their appreciation for the historical society’s interest and input.