Butler County Times Gazette
  • Augusta Council continues efforts to nail down Depot plans

  • Some on the City Council aren’t sure about the best long-term use for Frisco Depot
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  • As the plans for the Frisco Depot in downtown Augusta continue to take shape, changes across the city keep the governing body from being able to nail down a final design concept.
    “We need to make sure we are all happy with the design before it goes to KDOT,” new City Manager Josh Shaw told the City Council Monday night.
    After the last direction from the council, Bill Morris of WMA Architects created plans with a meeting room on each end and two small offices, a kitchen and bathrooms in the center.
    These plans would allow both meeting rooms to be used simultaneously even with both offices occupied.
    However, some on the council aren’t sure if this is the best long-term use for the facility.
    “This is a publicly funded project,” Mayor Kristey Williams said. “We need to make sure it is as open as possible.”
    The council voted to hold another walk-through work session at the depot at 6:15 p.m. on April 7 before their next meeting to get a real visual of the setup before finalizing any plans.
    Also on the April 7 agenda will be consideration of Downtown Augusta Inc. and the city’s continued funding of the organization. The city currently allocates about $13,000 to DAI. However, the governing body only agreed to fund the group through March earlier this year. In the meantime, the group’s director has left to become the Main Street director in El Dorado.
    If the city’s funding is removed, the future of DAI is in peril. Without DAI, the configuration of the Depot building could be affected as well.
    Those are some of the many concerns surrounding the plans being created.
    “When I see these 10x10 offices, they seem small,” said Councilor Sue Jones. “Do we really want this? I don’t see it being terribly usable with this design.”
    Shaw told the council that KDOT was not pressing the city for information. They have an October timeline to bid out the project, so there is plenty of time to make sure the design is acceptable to the council before it is submitted.
    Another project with state and federal impact is the repair of the waterline from Santa De Lake to the water treatment plant.
    Flood waters late last summer broke the line. Thanks to a disaster declaration, the city will not only get state aid to help fund the project that could exceed a quarter of a million dollars, but FEMA will also participate in the funding.
    However, FEMA participation adds a lot of work to the front end of the project with far more extensive bid specifications and requirements. Because of this, the design work by MKEC on the project has been far more extensive as well.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I despise coming back to a city council and asking for more money,” City Engineer Larry Henry said. “But this is significant. The good news is all of the plans and specs are done already and the project will be bid out once all of the FEMA requirements are met.”
    In addition to the necessary repairs, the city has asked MKEC to prepare an alternative project that would allow another waterline to be run parallel to the main line. This project would help pave the way for westward expansion of utilities in the future.
    The governing body will receive bid prices on the job and be able to determine if paying only one setup charge and mobilization cost would result in significant enough savings to do both projects now even though no westward expansion is planned in the very near future.
    The council voted unanimously to increase its payment to MKEC by $14,200 total for the two projects.
     
    Kent Bush can be reached at kbush@butlercountytimesgazette.com.
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