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Moving Forward
City approves bike route and bid for Meadows
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Monday night, Be Well Barton County proposed a partnership with the city to install a safe bicycling route along 19th and McKinley Streets. New signage and sharrows stenciled on the road will raise awareness that bicyclists share the road with motorized vehicles. - photo by Courtsey image

The Great Bend City Council unanimously threw their support behind a request by Be Well Barton County to become partners in the installation of signage and sharrows relating to bicycles Monday night.
“This project will make Great Bend, already a progressive and accessible city, even more progressive and accessible,” said Be Well Barton County leadership team member Dale Hogg.
The proposed project would include 19th Street from Main Street to McKinley Street and on McKinley Street from 19th Street to the Great Bend Sports Complex.  Council person Edwin Roberts expressed concern that the route included the intersection of 10th Street and McKinley, one of the busiest in the city, he said.  
“It’s like an accident waiting to happen,” he said.
“That is one of the reasons why we picked it,” Hogg said.  “By increasing awareness of the presence of bicycles, it will make it safer for kids to get from one end of town to the other.”
Roberts asked if the route could be jogged to avoid the intersection, but Hogg and other council members pointed out that there was not another street light for several blocks.  
Council person Allene Owen observed two young men on bicycles trying to cross at the intersection recently.
“They could not get across the street,” she said.  “They would get part way across, and would have to go back.  I watched them do it twice before I made it through the intersection.  I don’t know how long it took them to get through.”
Council person Wayne Henneke suggested police increase patrols along those two streets to ensure vehicles and bicyclists observe the rules of the road.  The route along 19th Street, which connects Great Bend High School with Great Bend Middle School and Vets Park already has plenty of bicycle traffic, he pointed out.  

Meadows on track
At the July 21 meeting, the council voted to reject a bid submitted for utility improvements in the Amber Meadows housing development. This involved water and sewer lines for Prairie Rose Drive.
City Engineer Rob Winiecke put pencil to paper since the July 21 meeting to find a way to shorten the distance between his original estimate of $137,930 for utility improvements, and the $271,339 bid received by sole bidder Nowak Construction of Goddard.  With no other bids coming forth, he and City Administrator Howard Partington  have been in negotiations with Nowak  He presented a scaled down version of his plan to the council which he likened as, “going from a Mercedes to a high-end Chevrolet.”
By including average rather than upgraded bedding material, using a more moderate 150 psi pipe which still handles twice the pressure required, and scaling back the type of manholes, Winiecke was able to save the city $44,700, making the revised bid $226,639.
Partington advised council members that this part of the project was the key to getting the development underway.
“If we’re going to do the project, we need to move on it right now,” he said.  Council member Dana Dawson asked if there was still time.  Partington said crews could begin right away, and should be done within six weeks, would allow the contractor to get the houses weathered in before the weather changes.  The council authorized the city staff to move forward on the project.

 In other business Monday night, the City Council:
• Heard a report from Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters.

• Approved abatements at 1714 Van Buren, owned by Eric Morrel, for accumulation of refuse, and at 1622 19th, owned by Karen Jones and Sandra Wright, for a motor vehicle nuisance.
• Approved a request from Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes to allow non-street-legal cars to travel no more than 12 blocks on city streets. These are cars owned by car club members who are taking part in the Party in the Park Car Show and need to get from the registration location to Veterans Memorial Park.

• Approved the city’s franchise agreement with Wheatland Electric Cooperative. This includes maintenance of the powers lines, sale of electricity within the city and ability to transmit electricity through the city to customers outside the city limits.

• Approved a agreement allowing Nokes Hay Service to lease about 1,000 acres at the Great Bend Municipal Airport. The original request also included another 150-acre parcel adjacent to the airport operations area and the use was more restricted due to Federal Aviation Administration regulations.  The city will receive $50 per acre.

• Approved participating in the Kansas Department of Transportation Federal Funds Exchange Program. Under the program, the city allows its federal money to go to the state which keeps 10 percent for administration, then banks the balance in an account for the city. The advantage is that when the funds come from the state, there are fewer strings attached than when it comes from the feds.
The city has done this for several years.

• Selected Aug. 15 as a date for a city team-building work session. It was suggested that the city hold a traditional team-building work session to provide an opportunity for governing body members and staff to exchange ideas on how to improve the community. It will take place from 11 :30 a.m. to 1 :30 p.m. at the ?????.

• Heard a departmental update for City Administrator Howard Partington.