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HRK owner writes city to provide help

Council tables plans to help business adapt to incoming competition

Staff writer

After Dollar General decided to build a store in Marion last month, Marion officials said they wanted to help the longtime variety store HRK compete.

On Tuesday, the city council got its chance. HRK owner Bernice Beach sent a letter to the city asking that repair work in and around her parking lot be done.

“I’m sorry to have to ask,” Beach wrote in her letter to the city. “I think it’s really important to have our store looking good and ready to serve the community for many years to come.”

The total cost of the repair work would be about $6,800, but the council decided not to approve the work just yet.

Led by Mayor Todd Heitschmidt, the council instructed city staff to put together different versions of a repair proposal to be considered later.

“If we’re going to help in some way, even if it’s donating some old fill, whatever, I just want to see what the business owner’s investment is going to be,” Heitschmidt said.

Support to help HRK, located at Main and Roosevelt Sts., appears to be strong, though what work in particular the city will do remains to be decided.

“We need to do something with those entrances, particularly because it’s our responsibility,” said city council member Jerry Dieter.

City Administrator Roger Holter said the driveway into the HRK parking lot must be re-designed to meet current codes. When it was originally constructed for a gas station, the apron was placed at a 45-degree angle off Main Street, which is no longer the standard egress.

“We would need to square off that corner and have it a direct turn out,” Holter said. “So today, we basically have five points of traffic intersecting in that one area.”

Most of the requested repair is on public property, officials said. Holter said a 24-foot entrance is needed. In addition, the city has allocated $3,000 a year for curb replacement that could be used near HRK.

Holter said the state might pick up the tab for the new curbs, but not without the city committing to completing a project in the area. As an example, Holter said that when Subway opened, the curbs outside were in disrepair, but KDOT officials said they would not do the work or fund curb replacement along the state highway unless the city performed a street project at the location.

“So when we did the street project, that’s when the curb was replaced,” Holter said.

When council members and those in attendance at the meeting agreed that the sidewalk near HRK is in disrepair, Heitschmidt said that repairing the entire faulty sidewalk in the area at once might make more economic sense than just a section outside HRK’s front door.

Heitschmidt also said the gutters around HRK need work.

Economic Development Director Terry Jones said he hopes to assemble a team of volunteers to fill some potholes inside the HRK parking lot.

“She’s doing a lot inside her store, making it more efficient, with different inventory items,” Jones said. “So she’s not just trying to get money from the city and call it good. This is a whole effort.”

As part of the package to lure Dollar General to the industrial park, city officials agreed to spend $4,000-$6,000 to install electrical services to the property line.

Beach and her husband Jim began HRK in 1983. In her letter to the city, Beach said that HRK was rebuilt and re-opened in 1999 after a fire.

“I am a little reluctant to ask for some help with an issue that we have had for years with the city,” Beach wrote. “With the additional retail competition, I feel we have no other option as we cannot simply compete with corporations.”

Last modified Feb. 18, 2015

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