Fieldhouse Project at Standstill

Riley County Commission 2013Ideas have been thrown around, drawings have been made, and now it’s time to conduct some studies.  The Fieldhouse project has been a talked about project in Manhattan for some time.

A presentation was made during a previous Riley County commission meeting regarding the layout of the project and the impact it could potentially have on the economy.  During Thursday’s commission meeting, Fieldhouse Advisory Group Chair, Gail Urban provided an update on the project, saying studies need to be done.

With five potential locations for the facility, a study needs to be done to see which location is best.  Besides that, market studies need to be conducted to see if this project will benefit the area.

The group is asking a 10% donation of the project budget, which would be $10,000 from the commission.  Commission Chair, Dave Lewis was ready to donate, saying “I’d like to see this project move forward, the economic impact would be tremendous”.

Commissioners Robert Boyd and Ron Wells were not against the project, but requested more information before deciding to donate the money.  Boyd mentioned the financial constraints coming from Topeka could potentially hurt county corrections in the future.  He said if given the choice between funding the two, county corrections has a higher need and would be his first priority.  Urban made a rebuttal, saying if children had places to stay active, they would have a better chance of not ending up in county corrections.

The commission decided to have Budget and Finance Officer, Johnette Shepek attend Monday’s meeting to provide information on the economic development fund, to see if this donation is feasible.

All commissioners are in support of the project, but decided to hold off on donating until they gain more information.

Another popular item on previous commission agendas involves the possibility of adding an employee of the month parking stall incentive.

This idea just barely passed in the department head meeting, and was therefore brought to the commission.  Department heads were in attendance to give their input on the matter.  Treasurer, Eileen King was against the idea in the department head vote, saying there would be no way to keep in consistent across the board in terms of different department parking situations.

Although the commission saw the benefit of rewarding employees, and their hard work, by providing an incentive, they agreed it would be inconsistent.  Shepek mentioned, when she was on the REACH committee and this topic came about, they discussed having a day off as an incentive instead of a parking spot.

The commission will visit the topic again in a couple weeks.

The third item, previously bringing up differentiating opinions, was the asphault paving discussion.  Public Works Director, Leon Hobson brought this topic up during a previous meeting, as Manhattan has a strong need for asphalt paving in various areas.

The controversy during the previous meeting was whether to contract the work out, or have the public works department do it.  As the county is in posession of the asphalt truck they bought years ago, Hobson encouraged the commission to have the county crews do the work.

Hobson commented, “you’re (the commission) always talking about saving, and I’m telling you, by doing this ourselves, we can save money”.

Boyd disagreed and thought contracting the project would be cheapest.  He also commented it’s sometimes safer to have a contracted crew do the work.  “When we make a mistake, it’s on us.  If it’s them (contracted crews), it’s on them, and I’d much rather have it be on them and have them inspect the work”.

Lewis added, “I see both sides.  What it boils down to for me is what’s going to save us money.  By doing it ourselves, we save money”.  To which Boyd opposed again.

Due to the time crunch, as this project needs to begin in May, the commission took a vote.  The commission approved to have county crews do the project on a 2-1 vote (Boyd opposing).  They will review the project to see if they saved money after it is complete, and decide from there what to do with future projects.