There are no locks on the courthouse square, so it’s not like anyone is going to show up and find that their keys no longer work, but the Kansas Supreme Court says the property belongs to the county, not the city.
Well, that’s what it said.
It all came up in recent months when Great Bend city and Barton County officials have been looking into who has responsibility for what in the downtown park surrounding the courthouse.
Dating back to the 1870s, the basic understanding has been that the courthouse belongs to the county, while the land belongs to the city.
Over the years, there have been agreements made about who would help with what and how each government entity would chip in to fund maintenance and County Administrator Richard Boeckman was looking into the background of such agreements when he looked back to a discussion in the mid-1960s.
It was in 1965 that there was a district court decision that said the park should actually be held in trust for the public by the county, not the city. Boeckman told the Barton County Commission this week that the issue went on to the Kansas Supreme Court, also in the mid-’60s, and it agreed.
Apparently that was just set aside, because everyone pretty well forgot about it.
Boeckman said the issue can be easily settled by the county filing a quit claim deed that stipulates the city holds the park. “This was just a big oversight by the parties involved,” the county administrator said.
Or everyone could just do nothing.
Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg noted that not taking action has worked so far. “Maybe you just ought to leave sleeping dogs lie.”
Commissioner John Edmonds, however, pointed out that it would be a good idea to clear up the “title cloud” while everyone is friendly, rather than wait for it to become a problem.
Boeckman is looking into the issue and will report back to the commissioners.
By the way, the project that was being discussed back in 1965 involved paving the north and south sides of the park and turning the who thing into huge parking lots to serve the busy downtown shopping area.