Iola’s hopes to extend the Prairie Spirit Trail to Riverside Park could become significantly more expensive if the city buys neighboring land along its route.
Iola commissioners received notice Tuesday from three local appraisers setting the price of land along the trail route owned by Jack McFadden at $138,500. The city would also be required to pay an additional $110,000 to move old construction equipment owned by John Womack from land between U.S. 54 and Riverside Park.
The city is applying for a $400,000 grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation, which, if approved, would be matched by $100,000 from the city to plan and design the trail’s extension from Cofachique Park to the north edge of Riverside Park at Bruner Street. The existing trail follows the old Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad corridor from Iola to Ottawa.
The city had previously negotiated with McFadden to clear his land for potential use as a park area. When those negotiations stalled, the city exercised a plan to acquire the property by eminent domain, which prompted the use of three local appraisers, John Brocker, David Ensminger and Kent Thompson.
The appraisers set the price of McFadden’s land north of U.S. 54 at $60,000 and south of U.S. 54 at $78,500. Using a bid from C.C. Recycling of Yates Center as a guide, they set the cost of moving Womack’s equipment from the site at $110,000, for a combined cost of $248,500.
The city still has the right to extend the trail in town without acquiring the property because of federal railbanking laws that allows the city to maintain the old rail corridor as a multi-use path for walkers and bicyclists.
Commissioners took no action following a 20-minute executive session with City Attorney Chuck Apt.
COMMISSIONERS approved paperwork so that bids can be awarded in April to replace the Jefferson Avenue bridge spanning Coon Creek.
The project, which the city hopes to begin as early as May, has been pegged by engineers to cost about $224,000, with 80 percent of those costs coming from the federal government through the Kansas Department of Transportation. The remaining $44,800 would come from the city’s street and alleys fund.
A LEASE agreement with Thrive Allen County to maintain its office in a city-owned building at 2 E. Jackson Ave. was approved. Thrive will continue to pay $400 a month in rent.
Commissioner Craig Abbott made a motion that the city begin charging $800 monthly, explaining that while Thrive is a benefit to the community, “the issue here is their rent.”
Doubling the rent would put the building more in line with other offices of similar size, Abbott said. Abbott also noted that the city should not be in competition with other landlords in the community for rent.
David Toland, Thrive executive director, was summoned to the meeting and spoke about other issues regarding the building, including lack of insulation and a leaky roof.
If the rent were to double, Thrive would have to move, Toland said.
In the end, Abbott withdrew his motion. A motion by Mayor Bill Maness to continue the $400 monthly rent was approved 2-1, Abbott opposed.
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