By Jamie Willey
Two local businessmen spoke to commissioners on Tuesday evening against the city taking land from them through eminent domain to improve the intersection at 32nd and Main.
Roger Moore, owner of Moore's Retail Liquor, 32nd and Main, told commissioners during their regular meeting that taking 10 feet of land from his property along 32nd would be a detriment to his business. He said the forced selling of his land would leave him with only 10 feet of space between his building and the curb, not enough room for delivery trucks, motor homes and trucks pulling boats to park on the west side of the building.
Moore said he wouldn't object to selling his land in the name of progress, but he doesn't think the city's plans represent progress.
The project will widen North 32nd from Main to the alley between Main and Washington, half of a block, to four lanes to align with South 32nd, which is four lanes from Main to Wood, near the city limits. Under the plan, the street would taper back to two lanes at Washington and continue as it is now as a two-lane road.
Moore said he's owned his liquor store at the intersection for 20 years and has always considered the intersection safe, so he doesn't see a need to improve it.
"We really think it's being a detriment to a business paying taxes to the city," Moore said.
Moore was speaking against the plan during Tuesday's meeting because the commission had a resolution on its agenda that declares it necessary to appropriate private property for the construction of public improvements associated with the project. The commissioners passed the resolution, the preliminary step in buying Moore's land, and land across the street at SEK Auto, through eminent domain.
City Attorney Ross Albertini said the resolution doesn't compel the city to condemn the property and buy it through eminent domain. He said it only allows the engineer on the project to begin the process.
Kenny Stice, owner of SEK Auto, said no one from the city has told him how much land the city would buy from him under the plan. Darrell Moyer, director of public works, said it would be about five or six feet on the west side of the street. Mayor Bob Bartelli said the city staff has talked to one of Stice's sons, who is also involved in the business.
Stice said the road work will block access to his business, but City Manager Fred Gress said there is alternate access to SEK from Main Street, and that the city would not block access to a business on any project.
Gress said the 32nd and Main project has been planned for several years and is being funded by a state grant the city may not be able to obtain any longer because of state cutbacks. He said the state doesn't take the process of eminent domain lightly and that it is used only as a last resort.
The city already has bought all the other land needed in the project, including some on South 32nd, some north of Moore's and SEK and some on Main Street, Moyer said. That land was purchased under agreement with property owners.
Besides widening part of 32nd, the project will install a storm water system to better handle water in the intersection.
Bartelli said passing the resolution Tuesday evening and buying the land from Moore and Stice is a matter of going through with the planned project or discontinuing it. Moyer said the engineer had told him that the project probably could be done with buying just eight feet of Moore's land instead of 10.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, commissioners:
l Approved an agreement between the city and TranSystems Corp. for the design of the Tolen Creek access road and platting of the Tolen Creek Industrial Park. The agreement is for an amount not to exceed $74,000.
l Approved an agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Bureau of Waste Management, for a waste tire grant. The grant will allow the city to buy tire mulch and place it in two playground areas in Forest Park. The contract amount is $17,789, and the city will match that amount in financial and in-kind project resources.
l Approved payment of $6,861.09 to BG Consultants for engineering services for work on the design of the Frisco trail.
l Approved payment to Heck and Wicker Inc. in the amount of $2,000 for a storm drainage replacement project.
l Approved payment of $27,650 to Ewing Construction for construction and lead-based paint removal on a HOME Rehab Grant project for a house at 1030 Briggs.
l Approved a change order on a contract with Wass Trucking that adds a structure at 717 N. Lincoln on a list of structures to be demolished for $2,800.
l Approved a change order on a contract with CH2M Hill that increases the amount of the contract by $6,552 to enhance protection for the intake screen at the water treatment plant. The change order also extends the completion of the project to Oct. 6.
l Approved payment to Alfred's Superior Tree Service in the amount of $17,515 for tree and stump removal.