Thursday, Nov. 29 2012 5:42PM
Committee hears bond project rankings
Capacity to bond is greater than early estimates
By Russ Pulley
Money available for a bond issue being considered by the Lee’s Summit is larger than expected.
The City Council’s Capital Improvements Project Committee heard a revised estimate this week as it considers which projects to recommend for a ballot possibly in April 2013.
City staff has raised its estimate to a maximum of about $13 million for a 10-year loan.
Prior estimates were $7 million for a 10-year bond issue and $12 million for a 15-year loan.
Finance Director Conrad Lamb said the higher amount is possible because of low interest rates for long-term debt. The city is refinancing some of the current bonds for City Hall and has very low interest on a 15-year loan for the Police Training Facility it will be adding to the police headquarters, he said.
Councilmember Derek Holland, chairman, said one of the first decisions the committee needs to make is how large the bond issue should be and asked members to think that over for a future meeting.
The committee heard from residents and city staff regarding particular projects. John Ivey said among several projects he supports, he’d like to see shoulders for Pryor Road and the new section of Todd George Parkway be improved by adding a shoulder and curbs, an estimated $2 million each.
“It’s a very unsafe road, you have people trying to bike or use trails,” Ivey said. “I hope some of this public money can be used to bring them up to standard.”
Maureen Burke lobbied for adding sidewalks and improving Orchard Street.
Ben Martin, president of the Summit Theatre Group and member of Lee’s Summit Arts Council, asked for the $2.7 million arts package to be a priority.
He said without improvements to the Legacy Park amphitheater, his group will find it difficult to stage shows there because of the expense of temporary stage and lighting installations. The group would like to eventually have two major summer productions there, similar to the Theater in the Park series at Shawnee Mission Park in Johnson County, he said.
The arts facility proposal also includes renovation of Arnold Hall for an exhibit space and creation of a festival space west of the railroad tracks downtown.
Roy Mussett asked for work on an “open” sewer in his neighborhood on Hamel Place, which he said is a hazard to children.
The committee heard a report from Lee’s Summit Fire Chief Keith Martin regarding $800,000 to upgrade LifePak units (those area electric devices for monitoring hearts and also delivering electric shocks to restore normal heart beat if necessary).
Martin said the units are nearing the end of their 15-year life span and newer models have better technology which gives medical personnel a view of the entire heart.
Another bond issue candidate is a new $3.5 million fire station to replace Fire Station 3 on Pryor Road. Martin said that station is outdated, too small for modern apparatus and not gender equal or handicapped accessible.
Christine Bushyhead, speaking for the Cultural Arts Facility Task Force, told the committee the task force sees all three cultural arts facilities going on the ballot package; it would not be in favor of the City Council picking one to put on the bond issue without the others.
Bushyhead said Lee’s Summit has an opportunity to benefit by Kansas City’s growth as an arts center, noting growth in the Crossroads district and the new Kauffman Center could overflow to nearby communities.
“We need to create some kind of edge, from an economic development standpoint, that sets us apart,” Bushyhead said. The committee reviewed ranking of projects by city staff using a matrix that included public safety, economic development, population served, cost, public support and other criteria. Each project got a score of 1 to 3 in each area and points were totaled. Large projects greater than $12 million were already dropped from the list by the committee as to expensive for this bond issue.
Based on the matrix, the LifePaks were ranked No. 1, followed by No. 2 Arnold Hall renovation, No. 3 the downtown outdoor festival space, tied for No. 4 were the Legacy Park amphitheater, paved shoulders for Todd George Parkway (from Colbern to Woods) Chapel and a $500,000 multi-use trail (Colbern Road from Lee’s Summit Road to Independence Ave.) tied for No. 5 are replacement of Fire Station 3 and improving Sampson Road, and No. 6 was the Orchard Street reconstruction (from Douglas to Independence.)
The total is still a little more than $20 million, so the committee will need to chop more projects from the list.
Holland noted the matrix was still somewhat subjective.
Councilmember Rob Binney said he thought rebuilding Orchard Street wasn’t given enough weight for its public safety value and asked about alternatives for financing that project.
Mezger said that although Orchard Street serves a small number of residents along the street, it would fill gaps in sidewalks reaching from north to downtown and east and west.
“It made a lot of sense from a connectivity aspect,” Mezger said.
The committee will next meet 6 p.m. Dec. 4 at City Hall.