Category Archives: City government

Urbandale, Iowa, names trail for Bob Layton

WICHITA — Before he left his position as city manager of Urbandale, Iowa, to take that role in Wichita, Bob Layton learned the city planned to honor him by naming a trail after him.

The irony, not to mention “the funny part of the story,” he says, is that he cut that project out of a capital improvement program right before he left.

So instead, he says, city officials said “that they’re going to name this trail some day in the future after me.”

Saturday is that day.

Layton, an avid runner, will attend the dedication of the one-mile trail through a park.

“We felt it was appropriate to name the trail after him because it represents one of his passions and because he himself helped to develop the master plan for this park,” Urbandale Parks and Recreation Director Jan Herke told the Des Moines Register.

These days, one of Layton’s favorite running areas is through College Hill, where he often runs with friends.

So is that where he might like something named for him one day? Has he given it any thought?

“Probably some on-street bike trail or something, I don’t know,” Layton says.

He does know, though, that he’d prefer for it not to be anytime soon.

Why not?

“To have something named after you in Wichita, you would need to be deceased.”

Rock Island Studios sues city over CityArts construction

WICHITA — Rock Island Studios has sued Wichita for its construction of CityArts a decade ago.

Rock Island is a photography studio in Old Town Square owned by Don Siedhoff, who has Beyond Napa at Rock Island Studios next door.

Neither Siedhoff nor the city are talking, but the suit says the issue is that the city “knowingly allowed and/or directed its contractors to install concrete structural footings underground on plaintiff’s property, directly underneath the building located on plaintiff’s property.”

The suit says the city didn’t have an easement, license, permission or anything else that would have allowed for the footings.

Rock Island claims it has the power of eminent domain and is entitled to fair compensation along with interest and legal fees.

You don’t say

“I feel like I’m in a congressional hearing.”

– City Manager Bob Layton, responding to intense questioning about the city’s water future from Council member Jeff Blubaugh

Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas to move to New Leaf Plaza

UPDATED — The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas is turning over a New Leaf, so to speak, and moving to the shopping center of the same name at 21st and Amidon.

“It is very accessible and very visible for the public,” says Keith Lawing, president and CEO of the agency that connects workers with employers.

“I really think it’s going to be a perfect location for their new home, although some would have liked for it to stay downtown, I suppose,” says City Council member Jeff Longwell.

“They are at least for a little bit going to keep some of the administration stuff down in the Garvey building,” he says.

The Workforce Alliance had been at the former Commerce Bank building at First and Main downtown and had to scramble to find new space along with other tenants there when building issues, such as a broken elevator and suspended gas service, forced them to go elsewhere.

A site a few blocks down from First and Washington is where the Workforce Alliance temporarily is until the new space is ready.

Lawing says parking had become an issue where the Workforce Alliance was at First and Main.

“We definitely looked downtown,” he says seeking new space. “If we could have found a place that would have been adjacent to a parking garage … it would have been great.”

He says no such place could be found.

Longwell says that initially the Workforce Alliance will take about 26,000 square feet at New Leaf, which is on the southwest corner of the intersection and is home to a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

He says it “is going to be a really nice space.”

“It’s a good location, easily accessible, on a bus route,” Longwell says. “I really like that whole area. It’s kind of coming back a little bit.”

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You don’t say

“You’re going to get me killed by Lavonta.”

– Mayor Carl Brewer’s response when asked about his joke that the East 13th Street roadwork in City Council member Lavonta Williams’ district likely would be done before the Kellogg expansion

You don’t say

“I can look down on City Hall from the sidewalk.”

Maura McEnaney, Monday’s Rotary speaker and the author of “Willard Garvey, An Epic Life,” quoting the late businessman’s response after someone said he could look down on City Hall from his new Epic Center

You don’t say

“I don’t normally spend this much time having a conversation with you because I know it doesn’t do any good.”

– Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer to conservative blogger Bob Weeks as the two argued over cronyism during Tuesday’s City Council meeting

“I really wasn’t offended today … because the mayor’s been ruder to better people than me.”

– Weeks’ response when asked about the exchange after the meeting

You don’t say

“They passed it. They own it. They ought to pay for it.”

– Harvey County commissioner Chip Westfall on the effect of state tax cuts on local governments, which have to make up the shortfalls through their budgets

You don’t say

“I’m going to drop off a baked bean can and a string tomorrow … so we can chat later in the day.”

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers co-owner Scott Redler teasing City Council member Pete Meitzner about his antiquated BlackBerry

Three state agencies close to signing new downtown leases despite city’s objections

The former Ryan International Airlines building.

UPDATED — Three state agencies, including two that currently are in the Finney State Office Building, are close to finalizing leases for the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main.

The Joint Committee on State Building Construction will consider leases for the Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Human Rights Commission next month and the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services on Wednesday.

“To my great surprise and chagrin, this committee has no authority to stop this process other than the bully pulpit,” says state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, a new member of the committee. “We can raise questions about the appropriateness of the move … and hopefully shame them into doing the right thing.”

Ward says the reasons the state has offered for why nine agencies need to leave the Finney building, a city-owned property at 230 E. William, “don’t seem to hold water compared to the bid given by the city.”

He’s referring to a new lease rate the city is offering to the state to keep the Department for Children and Families at the Finney building. DCF has more than 550 of the 700 state employees at the building.

According to a Sept. 9 letter Mayor Carl Brewer sent to Gov. Sam Brownback, the city would slash DCF’s lease rate from $11 a square foot to $6 a square foot for half the space it currently has. The reduced space is at DCF’s request, according to the letter. The city also offered to make a $6 million investment in improvements in the building.

“It is my hope, as mayor of Wichita, that the valuable relationship between the City and State can be preserved by a responsible business decision allowing the continued use of the Finney State Office Building as a centralized location for state agencies,” Brewer wrote.

Chuck Knapp, spokesman for the state Department of Administration, says it’s a “foregone conclusion” that DCF and the Kansas Corporation Commission will be leaving, because the Finney building does not meet their needs.

“Someone could offer you a cardboard box for free, and if it didn’t meet your housing needs, you … wouldn’t accept it,” Knapp says. “I’m certainly not saying the Finney building is a cardboard box. … Price isn’t necessarily the determining factor in the deal.”

In his letter, Brewer referenced a July meeting he had with Brownback after which a new conversation started with DCF about how the city could meet the department’s needs.

“However, despite our best efforts, we encountered obstacles that prevented a full evaluation of our counterproposal,” he wrote.

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