FEMA long-term planner Ben Alexander disclosed plans at last week’s city council meeting to modify the coming freeway version of US 54 now set to slice through Greensburg between Illinois and Ohio Streets at some future point.


FEMA long-term planner Ben Alexander disclosed plans at last week’s city council meeting to modify the coming freeway version of US 54 now set to slice through Greensburg between Illinois and Ohio Streets at some future point.
“The (exit) ramps will now be a little further east and west,” Alexander explained, while saying Main Street has now been drawn up as a through street, with either Walnut, Grove or Bay Street also serving as an artery between the north and south sides of town.
The off ramp for westbound traffic will be at Olive Street, while eastbound traffic will get “off on old Highway 54” just west of town, according to Alexander, who referred to the revised plans as a “streamlined version of the original Concept A.”
Alexander said the two through streets would eliminate the need for the roundabouts originally called for and would be enabled by a gradual rise in the roadbed, from east to west, immediately after the at-grade exit for westbound traffic at Olive. The new highway will be elevated sufficiently at its intersection with Main, to allow traffic on that street to pass under the freeway, as would be the case at the second through street locale.
The FEMA facilitator also reviewed drawings that showed “improving access to and utilization of the (Kiowa State Fishing) lake, including spots for RV parking, and more space for general parking, and some sort of vehicle/pedestrian connection to Main Street.” Alexander also said the wetland area accompanying the lake could be developed as a nature area with trails.
Relocation of Davis Park at the north end of Main with the school’s campus “anchoring” the south end was mentioned, in addition to dual use of such facilities as the library. “You could have both school hours and (public) consumer hours for the library,” Alexander suggested.
Several concepts for the downtown area were also quickly disclosed, featuring both east/west and north/south access to the business district.
One plans calls for making Main Street wider, such that buildings on the east side of Sycamore would be facing structures on the east side of Main, with a resulting “commons” area in between, including a large park area being incorporated. Linkage of the courthouse with the Big Well was also put forward.
Alexander stressed none of the concepts presented are “finalized” and that all are subject to further refinement, one step of which is the sharing of the plans at a community meeting to be held this Thursday at the blue and gold tent in Davis Park. A 5:30 p.m. meal is to be followed by the community meeting at 6. “There will be a brief, informal presentation Thursday and then an opportunity for residents to offer feedback to us,” he said.
The long-term recovery plan will then take further shape after considering public input from Thursday’s gathering, the final shape of the plan being presented August 15.
 “Then you’ll have the final format your community can use to start applying for grants in the four areas of government, health, education and business,” Alexander said.
Survey requirement upheld…
City Administrator Steve Hewitt later told the council he feels surveys for new construction should be required. He said the City had been enforcing that requirement thus far and wanted an affirmation/clarification of the practice.
Councilman Rex Butler spoke up quickly, saying that at a price of $200 to $600, surveys shouldn’t be required, gentleman’s agreements between neighbors as to boundaries being adequate.
Bob Mitchum quickly challenged the wisdom of such informal agreements, an opinion echoed by both Brandon Hosheit and Gary Goodheart.
“Outside people are going to be expecting to pay for a survey anyway when they look to move here,” Mayor John Janssen said.
“Also, $200 to $600 may cost $2,000 to $6,000 15 years from now when someone is looking to sell,” consultant David Yearout offered.
Hosheit, Goodheart and Mitchum subsequently voted to continue the City’s practice of requiring surveys, Butler the lone dissension.
In other matters:
*Hewitt said it had been brought to his attention that afternoon (July 23) that a point of the building code requiring drain tile in residential basements is not typically required. It was agreed to drop the requirement.
*A letter from BTI-Greensburg manager Mike Estes to the council asked the City to provide electrical power, water and sewer services to the new building they now plan on building just east of the airport, past city limits. Among the requirements Estes lists are “three-phase power as well as a four or six-inch water line.”
Estes also writes, “If this is possible it would also be helpful to know what our associated costs would be to bring these services to this location.”
Hewitt asked for and received the “ability to negotiate this with BTI, and get some prices and bring it back to the council for approval.”
*The moratorium on new construction or repair of property suffering more than 50 percent damage in the new highway corridor between Illinois and Ohio Streets was extended for 18 months on a unanimous vote.
*Julie Hillshafer of South Central Kansas Tornado Recovery Organization said the group is currently working on behalf of families who were underinsured before May 4, on a case-by-case basis. She also reported United Way is about to donate $1 million toward that end. Hillshafer also said she had communicated with Habitat for Humanity and that the organization was not prepared to help SCKTRO “at this time.” She also said that while SCKTRO had expected to have helped around 200 families by now, only 35 cases are currently open.
*The council agreed to up the franchise fee from the current level of 50 cents to around $1.75 per line per month in the new franchise agreement with AT&T currently being written.
*Council decided to move from meeting every Monday at 5 p.m. to the first and third Monday of each month at 7 p.m., meaning the next meeting will be August 6.