Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The King Is Coming

The King Is Coming.

The Burger King that is. Shawnee is getting a new Burger King restaurant at 75th Street and Nieman.

On a personal note, I’m looking forward to that. When I’m in the mood for a fast food burger I usually drive by McDonald’s and head for the Wendy’s at Wedd and 75th (and that’s in Merriam). OK burger King, we know you have one customer………….and hopefully many more.

Now, when this came up at the council meeting this past Monday we were treated to another one of Dawn “Motormouth” Kuhn’s self-aggrandizing diatribes. It’s nice that she had a hand in this, but fast food businesses are not the answer to Shawnee’s lack of commercial development. Just like the new Antique Mall in the old Hy-Vee building at 64th & Quivira is a nice touch. And, I hope they do well. But, that is not the answer to our lack of commercial development.

What we need is some strong development along the I-435 corridor (ala Zona Rosa). Look at what is happening at Village West. New soccer stadium, casino, Cerner Corp HQ and other items. The potential for getting bleed off from that area has to be enormous. Will something be done before it is too late? Mixed use………………hotels, restaurants, major shopping. And then with the proximity to I-70 what about some light manufacturing and/or corporate headquarters buildings. Technology companies with nice campuses. Now that would be exciting.

Chuckle of the night: When Councilmember Jeff Vaught questioned the requirements that were put on Burger King for appearance. He inquired as to whether or not Shawnee had a Uniform Building Code. The city’s planning director very politely had to inform him that the building code is exactly that, it has to do with various aspects of construction (electrical, plumbing etc.), not appearance. Why the chuckle? Mr. Vaught is in commercial real estate, and seldom lets a night go by where he doesn’t remind us of this. Thought he would have known that.

Sidebar: Technically the Uniform Building Code does not really exist anymore by that name. A few years ago it was consolidated with two other codes to become the International Building Code, and I’m not in commercial real estate. :-) :-)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Will We Get the Funds Back?

A few weeks ago I wrote that we were sending 5 people to the National League of Cities Conference in Washington, DC. This was in my opinion, three more than we needed to send. Scroll down to the Feb 25, 2011 post, “The Five That Are Going……….to DC”.

Based on a recent posting to the city’s web site, it was obvious that only four of the individuals went. An inquiry was sent to the city manager requesting info as to whether or not funds were expended on behalf of the non-attendee, Ward III Councilmember Jeff Vaught.

Below are the three questions (in blue) and Ms. Gonzales’ responses, (in red). I would like to sincerely thank Ms. Gonzales for her speedy reply.

1. Were any funds expended on Mr. Vaught’s behalf (hotel reservations, NLC registration and seminar fees, transportation, advances for per diem and any other items)?
Two payments made in advance were for airfare and the NLC Conference Registration.

2. If yes, how much and what were they?
Air fare was $ 308.39. NLC Conference Registration was $420.

3. If yes, how much is refundable to the city and how much is lost?
The City has requests in to the airline and to NLC to have the amounts credited. Review processes are underway for each.

It is nice to know that action is being taken to get credits for these amounts. The only question that remains is, if the city gets the credits, will they be credits resulting in refunds or requiring the city to use the amounts for future meetings.

The latter has happened in the past.

What occurs is that the city gets a credit towards a future meeting, but to take advantage of it, additional funds have to be expended (lodging, per diem, seminar fees, etc.). Let’s hope that it is a refund and the city doesn’t get “forced” into additional expenditures. That is unless the funds are used for one of two individuals to be sent instead of 4, 5 or 6.

Watch this blog for info regarding how much was spent by the other 4 attendees to the DC conference.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why I've Been Quiet................

On February 28 the city council made a decision to extend the life of the Johnson County Landfill an additional 16 years until 2043. Once that was approved, the council then confirmed a new agreement with Lord Deffenbaugh regarding how much that entity would pay the city.

So why didn’t I say something at that council meeting? I wanted to. I was going to. Then I looked around and realized only one other person was going to say anything. And they didn’t (and later I found out why). Because on an issue of this magnitude the citizens of Shawnee reverted to their normal, lackluster, apathetic attitude. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with this decision by the council, the fact that the citizens of Shawnee fail to participate in local government never ceases to amaze me. One lady showed up as folks were leaving, surprised that it was all over. Unbelievable.

I have written about this before. Almost everybody (over 80%) turns out for Presidential elections, but less than 10% turn out for local elections. And, very few, if any, ever show up at city hall to see firsthand what local government is doing. Guess the intelligent folks of Shawnee feel that the President is responsible for 90% of what affects their daily lives, not the city council.

Now let’s go back and look at the world famous Shawnee dump…….oooops, I mean landfill. The largest in the Midwest. Some folks have claimed we need more commercial development in Shawnee. The city paid a fortune for a study of the I-435 corridor. OK, who is going to build there? Who wants to build there? What kind of building do they want? The council recently approved a TIF district for a substantial amount of acreage just south of the landfill. Is anything ever going to happen there? Well, the owners of that land don’t have to tell us until they submit plans, if ever.

The Village West property in KCK is growing. A new professional soccer stadium, a casino, a major corporate complex, these are some of the things that are hapopening. Not to forget possible expansion of the speedway. The I-435 corridor would be a perfect “right down the road” area to gain some benefits from what is happening up there. Will it happen? I doubt it.

This past week, Mike Hendricks of the KC Star wrote an article about the problems surrounding the development of the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

The article can be accessed here,

What is telling, is the cross reference to the Shawnee landfill, via these comments:
“But then there was a big sticking point: The site first had to be cleansed of the toxins and explosives residues that once had the EPA contemplating putting it on its Superfund list. The soil was heavily contaminated with arsenic, lead and mercury, among other poisons.”

“All that dirt and material in dump sites had to be scooped up and hauled off.
But then another big problem arose: According to Kise Randall, who oversees the cleanup effort for Sunflower, the original estimate put the amount of soil to be removed at 612,621 tons. That’s equal to 26,621 truckloads, with most of it going to the Johnson County Landfill.”

Oh well……….guess we can forget about commercial development in Shawnee and just continue with residential development. That is, unless the lazy apathetic citizenry of Shawnee gets off their collective butts and starts getting involved.