Central Park restrooms up for conditional use permit

Staff writer

The City Council agreed to apply for a conditional use permit with the Marion Planning Commission writing in both proposed locations.

The Park Board, MAC, PRIDE, and Chingawassa Days Committee group has selected two areas. The first is located where a swing set is stationed on the east side of the park near the current driveway. The second location is on the west side where a flagpole stands. It would be south and west of the largest fountain.

The plan is for two buildings. Gazebo replacement is phase 2 of the project. Park board member and Marion Advancement Campaign president Todd Heitschmidt said the plan is to replace the termite-ridden current gazebo with a slightly larger, open, and handicap accessible version in the exact same location.

Restrooms are a separate part of the project, planned for a different location. The proposed locations for the restrooms have sparked controversy.

“There have been wild discussions in the newspaper,” Heitschmidt said. “I’m disappointed how the public has approached this.”

Kjellin said if the application was placed Tuesday that the Planning Commission could hear the case in their last Tuesday meeting in May.

The second location has drawn more public ire with residents worried the 26x26 foot structure would block views of fountains. Heitschmidt said fountains could be incorporated into the design with views unobstructed.

Both restroom locations would be much closer to Main Street than the current location, connected to the gazebo, in the center of the park. Heitschmidt said this move is meant to provide a more accessible public bathroom for visitors.

The park is at its busiest during Chingawassa Days. The Chingawassa Days Committee supports a new bathroom plan, although it stated in a letter that the eastside location would conflict with previous event locations.

City Administrator Doug Kjellin said the earliest construction could begin was the week of June 10 through 14, after Chingwassa Days was completed. That period coincides with Kansas Department of Transportation plan to repave Main Street.

With a new bathroom location, Kjellin said it would be necessary to break up a part of Main Street to route sewer and water lines. A lift station for sewage would also need to be installed. Kjellin added that it might not be a good idea to carve up Main Street directly following its restoration.

Heitschmidt said the plan for the restrooms is to have them open year round. With two inches of insulation, he said it would only need electric heat.

Mayor Mary Olson asked Heitschmidt about the cost of the project.

“I don’t want to say and be so far off and be ridiculous,” he said.

He did add that a previous prebuilt design was slated to cost more than $80,000. He said the restrooms would likely cost less than that with the help of contractor Lucas King and engineer Darin Neufeld.

The project received one large grant of $20,000 when fundraising began in 2011. The grantors had conditions that the facility be built locally and be certified as a storm shelter.

Refinancing

Kjellin made a complete 180 in his recommendation for 828 N. Roosevelt St., formerly Arlies’ Paint, Body, and Glass.

Kjellin recommended the City Council seek refinancing bids from the three local banks. He suggested a 15 or 20-year payment plan with no balloon payment.

Two City Council meetings ago, Kjellin was on board with purchasing the Arlies’ building outright for $235,437, citing that the city would cut out debt and have more flexibility in finding a tenant or buyer.

Kjellin now says it is in the city’s best interest to keep cash reserves as stocked as possible. He said it is more financially prudent to pay the 3 percent interest rate over the course of a payment plan.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he said.

The reason he originally recommended purchasing 828 N. Roosevelt St. is it would allow the city to set terms with a tenant without having any payments to make. With a tenant that employs multiple people, say a manufacturer, Kjellin said the city could request that the tenant pay property taxes and utilities for the first year in the building.

Kjellin said this type of plan is still a possibility and added that a tenant’s payments should not be tied with the payments the city makes on the project.

The council approved receiving bids for refinancing.

In other business:

  • The council approved a resolution authorizing Marion Assisted Living to purchase their building after their revenue bond expired after 10 years. The original principal was $925,000 for the building.
  • The city will apply to KDOT’s Geometric Improvement plan. The city could receive more than $644,000 to improve elevations in the city. Kjellin pointed out the rail crossing on Main Street as one location for improvement.
  • An L-screen for batting practice pitchers was ordered by the Baseball Boosters and billed to the city as a part of the scoreboard and wind-screening fence project. The council approved the $448 L-screen with the requisite donation from the boosters to cover the cost.
  • The council approved appointments for Kjellin, City Attorney Susan Robson, City Clerk Angela Lange, Deputy City Clerk and Treasurer Rebecca Makovec, Chief of Police Tyler Mermis, Municipal Judge Randall Pankratz, and Fire Chief Mike Regnier. All of the votes were 3-0 with the exception of Jerry Kline voting against Kjellin.
  • The city received a $6,958 dividend check from Case and Son Insurance.

 

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