By Jim Misunas
LARNED — The Larned city council has authorized Larned City Manager Lane Massey to continue negotiations with a Moundridge company that has offered to lease-purchase the city-owned National Guard Armory.
The Larned city council agreed Massey should continue negotiations with Heartland Industries, a drip-irrigation company, at a meeting recently. The vote followed a 30-minute executive session for attorney-client privilege.
Mark Vogts and Brian Wedel are partners in Heartland Industries, which is affiliated with the Netafim irrigation company.
Larned Mayor Bob Pivonka requested a consensus vote on whether to continue pursuing a retail business or consider a offer from Assembly of God Church that has been in place for some time.
The council voted 5-2 to pursue a retail business to occupy the armory building, which as a municipally-owned structure is currently exempt from taxes. The armory, which had been listed for sale by the council with an asking price of $250,000.
The company was granted a 60-day extension to investigate the company’s eligibility for an agricultural tax abatement program. Courtland Holman, Larned Chamber of Commerce director, said Heartland has apparently chosen to forego the tax abatement program.
Holman said Heartland is still interested in a six-month lead-in lease agreement in its proposal to locate a branch in Larned. The company would hire a branch manager if the proposal moves forward.
The Larned Assembly of God has offered a nine-acre tract of land valued at $104,000 east of Larned in addition to $146,000.
Pastor Ryan Webster currently operates a church at 922 Broadway. The church has previously offered a $10,000 earnest payment to be used as a deposit towards the purchase.
Webster said the property the church owns was planned to be developed as a future site, but the price tag of a new church could easily be $1 million or higher. Remodeling the Larned Armory would be a projected $250,000 cost.
Larned’s National Guard Armory was turned over to the city of Larned in 2010. The Larned Armory has also been popular for community-wide events such as antique shows, pancake feeds and dances.