Water Water Everywhere….

The Manhattan city commission is concerned with developments which could lead to more flooding in the Wildcat Creek Watershed.

A new Petsmart store development is proposed on a lot just south of Home Depot.  That would put the main building onto the flood plain, and require fill dirt to be applied to lift the building to meet with current city safety specifications.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich wasn’t convinced the developers understood his concerns with the plan.  Jankovich pointed out the site would be next to the bridge, and present another choke point for water flow.  Jankovich also says the developers weren’t taking into consideration the influence of the Kansas River water levels to the watershed.

Commissioner Wynn Butler says it would just be making the bath tub smaller, and didn’t see why the project should be allowed to go forward given the previous problems in the area due to development within the flood plain.

Developers say the 12,154 square foot store would have little impact on the flood plain (with 5 cubic/fps added to the area), and the tributary it was placed on a quote “ineffective flood area”.

Butler and Jankovich were not convinced, and voted no on the ordinance.  The first reading of the ordinance still passed as the other three commissioners voted to go ahead with the project.

The commission passed an amendment to award a contract for the final design of the city auditorium renovation.  The renovation would radically change the existing auditorium, and remove the current stage.  This design had some community members up in arms.  Local resident Randi Dale asked the commission to reconsider removing the stage due to it being a living memorial to veterans, and one of the few places for the arts to flourish.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh raised the question if now was the right time for the project given the current concern by citizens over city debt, and concerns about renovating a possible historical site.  Assistant city manager Jason Hilgers responded by pointing out the CIP funds being utilized for the project were meant for this kind of program.  Hilgers says the rest of the gap in funding would be made up by possible efficiencies  gained in staffing, and the reduction in Parks and Recreation staff by two personnel.  Those personnel would be reduced through natural attrition.

Commissioner McCulloh remained unconvinced and cast the one dissenting vote on the amendment.

A discussion on possible modifications to the city’s benefit district drew out several testimonials by local contractors and developers.  Developers say some of the options being considered would punish them for the transgressions of the few.  City commissioners agreed one of the options, a letter of credit, was not a good fit for city operations.  The commission felt it would reduce the ability for some developers to compete, and have a negative impact on growth.  The commission tasked city staff to do more research on the topic, and will pick up the discussion at a later date.