Council stops rec center in its tracks

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RAYMORE — The Raymore City Council met at their regularly scheduled time Monday night in the council chambers at Raymore City Hall.

The main topic of discussion centered around the feasibility study proposed for a community center within the Raymore City limits.

First, an application for a liquor license submitted by Dean Wescott for his Minsky’s Pizza franchise was considered. The Minsky’s restaurant will be located next to Cosentino’s Price Chopper in the old Perazelli’s location. Council approved his request unanimously.

Next, the Council heard a request for Final Plat approval for Westbrook at Creekmoor Ninth Plat, a 23-lot single-family subdivision covering about ten acres along Creekmoor Drive.

“The developer has agreed to install a temporary cul-de-sac,” said Jim Cadoret, Raymore’s Community Development Director. The plan is to eventually attach Creekmoor Drive with Madison Street to the east and eventually to 163rd Street to the west.

The current difficulty for the developer is building roads that navigate around the golf course, Cadoret explained.

Councilmember Kevin Kellogg explained that cul-de-sacs are a low-priority when it comes to snow removal and he expressed concern for those 23 homes that would need their road cleared if the conditions were snowy.

The Bill eventually passed unanimously.

The third item addressed spoke to the approval of the issuance of series 2014 bonds, the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the Raymore Galleria. In 2005, Raymore initially approved the TIF plan and in 2012 the City entered into an amended restated contract that facilitated the building of Sam’s Club in the Galleria.

If approved, a new series of bonds will be issued which will cover the 2005 bonds that were issued by the City, fully refunding them, and the new bonds issued by the City will create $5 million in new funds.

“The Galleria was not making its payments on a timely basis,” said Councilmember Charlene Hubach, referring to her time on the Council in previous years. She wanted to make sure that if the Galleria defaulted it would not fall back on the City.

Essentially, the answer to Hubach’s concern was “no,” and it was clarified that the Galleria is responsible for the Galleria. The motion carried unanimously.

Next, the Council discussed a feasibility study for an indoor (and possibly outdoor) community center in the City.

Councilmember Hubach said that she has neither seen nor heard anything from the citizens that demands action for constructing a community center.

“I don’t think I’m in favor of something like this,” she said.

“Where is the survey that says the people want an indoor recreation center and an outdoor recreation complex?”

City Manager Eric Berlin referred to a city-wide survey conducted in the past that revealed Raymore residents wanted an indoor recreation center. Berlin also stated that the Park Board was driving the idea of an outdoor complex.

As discussion among the councilmembers began, Hubach stated that there is too much money wrapped up in a community center. The councilmember also said that there are businesses in Raymore doing what this complex would be doing.

“I’m not in favor of subsidizing something along this line,” she said.

Councilmember Ryan Wescoat said he was very conflicted on the issue, expressing a fault in sample surveys that cast a wide net by using general terms.

“We need to find out what the citizens are willing to pay for,” he said.

“We need to narrow the scope on the feasibility study by doing a citizen survey first.”

Councilmember Sonja Abdelgawad said that the people really desire a community center but the main aspects of the facility need to be specified.

“The big thing I’m hearing from people is, ‘That’s a lot of money,’” she said, referring to the cost of the feasibility study. The study would cost $78,500.

Berlin stated that doing a project of this magnitude requires spending a fair amount of money.

“With regard to the cost that you mentioned, $78,000 [for a feasibility study] is about three-quarters of one-percent of the total cost [budgeted for a community center],” Berlin said in response to Abdelgawad.

Councilmember Kevin Kellogg said that citizens have been telling him that the City is being steered in the wrong direction by doing a statistical survey after the hiring of a consultant.

Wescoat suggested discovering how much the citizens are willing to pay before deciding what features to implement in the community center.

“There are too many unknowns for us to go in and spend $78,000,” Hubach added.

Councilmember Robert Piepho spoke in favor of the study saying, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

“This package, the way I see it, is one that will allow us to get answers to the questions that we’re asking,” he continued.

“I see this as a budget item that essentially pays for itself if we make the move now.”

In the end, Councilmembers Piepho, Abdelgawad, and Jason Boehner were the only votes in favor of the Bill, and it failed.

“I am disappointed that we didn’t move forward,” Mayor Peter Kerckhoff said after the meeting.

City Manager Berlin stated that City Staff will need direction on how to proceed. He said that Staff acted as discussed for years and now that the Council has rejected the proposal for a study, the City does not know how to proceed.

“At this point your Staff does not know what it is that you want us to do,” Berlin said.

Mayor Kerckhoff said that this will be discussed at the next Council work session.

In other business, an approval for a long-term curb replacement program was made. The ten-year program covers many areas of Raymore and will be re-approved by the Council each year.

A resolution was passed as well, regarding the installation of sidewalks on undeveloped lots within the City.

“I can see this creating some hard feelings from developers,” said Councilmember Kellogg, stating that most developers do not want to install sidewalks before erecting buildings.

Cadoret said that the City has planned for a construction entrance point over the sidewalks as developers begin building. The motion carried unanimously.

Finally, the annual Bill to locally implement the Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday was approved unanimously. This tax holiday allows residents of Raymore to purchase certain energy star certified appliances without having to pay state and city taxes. The event takes place in April.

Council will meet again on January 27.

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