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Hoisington City Council to focus on housing
The city swimming pool is Hoisington is scheduled to be finished for opening on July 1.

HOISINGTON — The Hoisington City Council began Monday evening with a tour of the city swimming pool as it enters its last phases for completion. The contractor intends to be finished for opening on July 1. The Council reconvened at City Hall at 7 p.m. for the regular session.

New business included a discussion of the daycare issue, due to information gained during the joint meeting with the Barton County Commissioners on May 9. City Manager Jonathan Mitchell noted, “Based on feedback received at the recent meeting held at the Hoisington Activity Center, our leadership team has made some modifications to the proposal to address childcare challenges. These modifications largely focus on the size and scope of the project and the entity or entities involved in the operations of childcare facilities.”

The changes to the proposal included using only one building, having a structural engineer look at both buildings on the east side to determine which was in better condition and issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to operate spaces with preference given to overnight care providers. Mitchell stated that Superior Essex would fund a grant for the project should overnight daycare be made available.

Council member Chris Smith started discussion concerning the Windgate Apartments.

Smith asked, “if nothing was done and everything was torn down, what would happen with the money then? Would donations still be available?” Mitchell said he would return to the County to ask about the funding they had offered for the project. He believed the other offers would go away.  

“We are still addressing a need in the County for housing,” Mitchell said.

Councilman Duane Reif felt the project could solve two problems, housing and daycare. “Daycare would be the quickest,” he said.

Councilman Darren Reinert said, “it’s a vicious circle because you have to have the housing to bring in the people and you have to have the people willing to work. You’ve got to have the daycare to provide to the people coming in willing to work. If this project doesn’t go through, it doesn’t mean we are opposed to not doing anything with daycare.”  

He suggested looking at a different plan, location, and ways to use funding to promote more daycare in Hoisington.  

Smith was concerned that City Staff would be asked to do too much of the remodel work along with their regular city responsibilities. Mitchell explained that, while much of the remodel could be contracted, no contractor was found to replace windows, siding and doors. City staff would be doing this work.

Councilwoman Becky Steiner shared that she had received calls asking why the city was spending time with those buildings. After researching the cost of a new build, she decided that remodeling the old apartment buildings would be “a money pit.”

Council member Karen VanBrimmer shared, “maybe that would be something then; just tear all the buildings down but build on that one lot on the southeast.”

Council member Gary Shook reminded the council of the lengthy timetable for construction at this time.  

Steiner said, “Personally, I feel we need to demo, get going with the housing.”

Mitchell asked about the funds being offered and the Council realized those may not be available for the lot development.

Council member Carrol Nather expressed concern about property values for those who would be build there.

“We bought this for a housing development,” she said. “I feel we need to put childcare in another location. If I were to build a new house on this location, I want my investment to increase in value. By putting daycare there, I don’t feel like it would allow my property to increase in value. So if it is going to be a housing development, it needs to be a housing development.”

While Reinert commented that he would like to see the structural engineer look at the buildings, other council members were ready to end the discussion of using the old buildings. In a four to three vote, the Council voted to take the steps for the demolition of the Windgate Apartment  buildings. Councilman Jim Morris was absent.

City Manager report

Garrison Cobb from the police department will graduate on May 20 from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. He will be on full-time duty.

Recent Hoisington High School graduate Alex Elmore is now full-time city staff.  

The police and EMS departments continue to work toward growing their part-time and volunteer staff. 

The City cleaned up reported offensive vandalism from the playground equipment at Bicentennial Park. Numerous cameras will be installed in each park as well as the pool and splash pad.

Mowing season has begun as well as preparing the City Cemetery for Memorial Day.