Manhattan authorizes $3.5 million loan application; moves toward construction of Casey’s convenience store

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$3.5 million loan-application
The Manhattan City Commission Tuesday authorized a loan application with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for $3.5 million to finance the Wastewater Treatment Plant Lime Sludge Lagoon Improvement project.
The goal of the project is to bring lime-sludge lagoons that are part of the stormwater drainage system in  northeast Manhattan in compliance with state and federal policies.
Randy DeWitt, Public Works assistant director, says that if the project ends up costing the estimated $3.5 million, the loan repayments will cost the city about $200,000 per year over 20 years.
“The interest rate is about 1.4 percent right now, so it’s as close as you can get to free money for us,” DeWitt said. “Because this is kind of a surprise project, the KDHE loan will be the preferred option because of the lower interest rate and spreading it out over 20 years.”
DeWitt says that while principal forgiveness on such loans is typically reserved for “green projects,” it has also been allowed for projects that help bring systems into compliance.
“We had a meter-replacement project where we upgrade all of our meter system to automated meter-reading,” DeWitt said. “That was a green initiative and we got principal forgiveness for that. I’m not really holding out a lot of hope that we can get principal forgiveness, but no reason not to inquire about it.”
Officials have not yet settled on a start date for the project.
The start date will depend on when other improvements to the stormwater drainage system can be completed.
Progress toward construction of Casey’s convenience store
The Manhattan City Commission vacated a utility easement Tuesday as part of an effort to construct a Casey’s convenience store on the southeast corner of Fort Riley Blvd. and Third St..
Brian Johnson, Manhattan city engineer, says the property won’t be accessible from Fort Riley Blvd..
“There is an agreement in the works or an agreement that has been signed between Casey’s and that lot to the east for some sort of temporary access,” Johnson said. “That’s a private-party agreement between those two. The city isn’t privy to that information.”
The commission also authorized a second utility-easement vacation on a Jardine Dr. right-of-way.
The owner of the property where the easement is located requested the vacation so they can build a garage in its place.
The Jardine Dr. right-of-way was put in place during the 1950s because officials assumed the road would eventually continue from Denison Ave. to College Ave.
Festival of Lights donation request
Wynn Butler, Manhattan city commissioner, requested that local residents donate to this year’s Festival of Lights display.
Typically, a group of local businesses and community members contribute most of the funds for the display, but Butler says the coronavirus pandemic has hurt these efforts.
“The hospitality industry that generally supports that, as you know, is not doing that well this year because of the coronavirus issue,” Butler said. “If you have time to help out a little bit on that, it would be greatly appreciated.”
The pandemic has also impacted events surrounding the 2020 Festival of lights.
Butler says there are currently no plans for in-person Festival of Lights events this year.
“The music will be there, the trees will be there, the lights will be there,” Butler said. “Parks and rec always puts in a little bit of help there on the electric and a few other things and I think that’s greatly appreciated.”
Viewers can enjoy a virtual lighting-ceremony on Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live.
Donations can be made at mhkfestivaloflights.com.
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