Rotary will take lead in playground project

By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer


 Within a year, children of the community could have new playground equipment at the Concordia City Park.
 Janet Lowell, president of the Concordia Rotary Club, asked permission from the City Commission Wednesday to move forward with plans to raise funds and build a new playground.
 "The Concordia Rotary Club has been talking about a project our club could get involved in, and the park project was one that was identified," Lowell said.
 After talking with members of the Miltonvale community, who built Tootleville Park, Lowell said they realized the project would be a massive undertaking.
 "We realized this is a project that is much bigger than our Rotary," she said. "It's definitely a project that would be a community project involving all the local organizations–clubs, churches, 4-H groups–everyone we can pull in."
 Rotary's goals for the project, Lowell said, are to make it a "community build," where members of the community come together to actually construct the playground, and to fundraise the estimated $100,000 to $150,000 to pay for it. From start to finish, she said, the project is expected to take nine to 12 months.
 "Rotary is happy to lead the project forward, but it will involve the whole community," Lowell said, which would include the school district. "With the fifth and sixth graders moving (to the Jr.-Sr. High), those kids still do recess. If we're going to look at park improvements, we'd certainly want to include the school in that and make sure it would enhance what they need for their fifth and sixth graders."
 While the community would come together to build the playground, its design would come mostly from the children who would use it.
 "It's a great community building project," Lowell said. "It's a lot of work that would take a lot of people."
 While no formal action was taken Wednesday night, the Commission gave its permission for Rotary to move forward with the project. Lowell said she would be back at the next meeting with a recommendation of a company to purchase the equipment from, and will ask for formal permission to proceed.
 The Commission approved signing a real estate contract for purchase of land from Cloud County Community College for the south flood control project. The City will purchase 1.94 acres from the College for $4,300. City Manager Larry Uri said the land is required for construction of the dam and sewer line.
 As part of the contract, the City will also pay the College $1 for a permanent drainage easement, and another $1 for a temporary construction easement around the purchased ground.
In addition, the City has agreed to prepare a grading plan for a proposed parking lot adjacent to College Drive, and use any extra dirt from construction of the dam to grade the lot.
 Earlier this year, the City applied for a Kansas Department of Transportation enhancement grant. The project, estimated at $1.2 million would include a 1.3-mile asphalt multi-use trail around the 21st Street dam area. It includes three footbridges, a parking lot adjacent to Cloud County Community College, a shelter, and a restroom building.
 If the City is awarded the grant, per the contract signed last night, the College agrees to deed the parking lot land to the City for $1, and the City will construct the public parking lot.
 Uri said representatives for the grant were in Concordia last week to review the project. There is $15 million worth of grant funds, he said, for $55 million worth of projects. He said he should find out this summer if the grant is awarded.
 "For now, we're buying the land we need to move forward (with the dam construction), and the rest is contingent on bids for the dam and what money will be left," Uri said. "There is too much up in the air to negotiate the whole deal."
 In other business, the Commission approved amending an ordinance to allow female chickens in the city limits, and approved a $36,000 supplemental contract with BG Consultants for engineering and inspection of the north development gas line.
 After executive sessions for attorney-client privilege and preliminary discussion of acquisition of real estate, the Commission adjourned to a study session to discuss the personnel handbook, flood maps, condemnations, and progress on the Brown Grand Theatre's rigging and restoration project.

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