Bridge piers and Welcome Center discussed by joint city/counties meeting

Manhattan Mayor Jim Sherow thinks progress is being made on what to do with the Kansas River bridge piers possibly being used for signage. However Sherow admits some questions remain. The piers apparently belong to the Kansas Department of Transportation, and are also in the unincorporated area of Riley County, which would mean they fall under the county’s recent moratorium on signage on highways that went into effect a couple of weeks ago. The moratorium lasts for a year. That means the city, if it’s able to obtain at least one of the piers, would have to abide by the county regulations, as well as K-DOT requirements.

Sherow indicates a tentative design has been prepared, with a financial backer for the project. City engineer Rob Ott was to find out more information before proceeding with the project, although Ott made it clear a scrolling sign would likely not sit well with K-DOT.

A 90-foot tower would be the hook that would draw tourists off I-70 on the Manhattan exit.. at least that’s the contention of a group that’s been working on a Flint Hills welcome center. Jay Nelson, the Riley County representative of the welcome center core group, says he felt a joint meeting, with Manhattan, Riley, and Pottawatomie County Commissioners seemed receptive to the idea.

Pottawatomie County Representative of that group, Clark Balderson, who was instrumental in getting the Oz Museum going in Wamego, says the project of such a visitor’s center has been considered for at least three years.

A question was asked about getting water to the location, with Nelson indicating rural Geary county and the city of Manhattan were being considered as sources.

The joint group of commissioners also talked about the Wildcat Creek watershed area working group, which was meeting on its own later in the evening.