This week's Council meeting
Augusta’s Mayor Mike Rawlings endorsed three proclamations at Monday night’s city council meeting.
Mayor Rawlings declared Local Law Enforcement Week, May 12-18, and encouraged all citizens to honor and show appreciation for local law enforcement officers.
The Augusta Crime Stoppers, Inc. is sponsoring a drop-in breakfast from 7 to 8 a.m. Wednesday, May 15, at the Augusta High School commons area, to honor and recognize law enforcement personnel. The public is invited.
Also proclaimed was the ninth annual Kids to Parks Day on May 18, 2019. Kids to Parks Day empowers kids and encourages families to get outdoors and visit America’s parks, encouraging all children and adults to lead a more active lifestyle, and broaden children’s appreciation for nature and the outdoors.
The final proclamation for the evening was endorsing that the City of Augusta be known as Hill Valley on Saturday, May 11, in celebration of the special “Back to the Future” trilogy showing this Friday and Saturday at the Augusta Historic Theatre.
Santa Fe Lake improvements
Augusta City staff and Council members have spent considerable time and effort into improving life and amenities for the community. One of Augusta’s assets is Santa Fe Lake and the location has seen a number of improvements in the past few years.
The Park Advisory Board met last month to discuss several more improvements and enhancements for Santa Fe Lake. Among the proposed improvements is the implementation of a campsite reservation system, donations of mountain bikes and helmets for a rental program, implementation of a Kid’s Summer Nature Camp, and amendments to the Augusta City Code.
Rod Davis, SFL caretaker, was at Monday’s meeting to discuss the recommendations.
He explained that currently all campsites at SFL are on first-come, first-serve basis, which eliminates out of town traffic. Using Reserve America, SFL customers will have the ability to make reservations in person, by phone, email and online. The Reserve America system also handles all of the back-end park accounting and customer management, which will provide lake staff with customer data and other analytics that will assist them. The lake will also receive additional exposure when patrons search for camping amenities in the area. The state of Kansas utilizes Reserve America for campground reservations for El Dorado State Lake and Cheney State Park.
Council approved the recommendation of implementing the campsite reservation system through Reserve America.
Davis shared next that lake staff has worked in conjuction with Bicycle X-Change, a Wichita business, to provide rental mountain bikes for the trail network at SFL. Bicycle X-Change has agreed to donate six bikes, helmets and accessories to SFL at not charge, and train the staff on maintenance of the bikes.
The newly expanded nature and mountain bike trails at SFL have gained region-wide recognition and popularity. According to Davis, the mountain bike rental program is one more service that can be provided to lake patrons and create an additional revenue stream to help maintain and expand the trail network.
Council approved the rental mountain bike program for SFL.
Also approved was a proposal to institute a Kids Natured Camp at the lake. For several years, SFL staff has hosted small school field trips and visiting schools to speak with green teams about watershed-related topics. Davis stated that while, this has been a good way to reach a few students, more could be reached through a 2-3 daytime only Kids Nature Camp.
The Nature Camp proposal was approved, subject to terms, fees, waivers to be approved later by Council.
Changes to SFL fees approved Monday include:
• All persons entering SFL park and facilities will obtain a recreation permit from the City,. The recreation permit shall allow an individual or family to use the facilities except boating and camping, which will require a separate permit. Entry into SFL shall be prohibited between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. without a valid SFL camping permit.
• Campsites with electric hookup on holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day) will be a 3 day minimum.
• Only annual permits will be sold for jet skis.
• A speed limit of five mph will be in effect for all boats operating within 100 feet of any boat ramp, shoreline, or any No Wake Zone from sunset to sunrise.
City Council members were presented three nuisance abatement resolutions for approval.
128 E. Main St.: Code enforcement staff observed nuisance violations at the address and filed a letter with the City Clerk on April 19, 2019 describing the improper storage of a sofa and trash on the exterior property.
781 W. Broadway: A written statement was filed with the City Clerk on April 23, 2019, and described the violations of open storage on the exterior property of tires, metals, power tools, junk, and other items considered a nuisance.
804 W. Clark: A written statement was filed with the City Clerk on April 23, 2019, and described open storage on the exterior property of tires, metals, lumber, appliances, tools, junk, and other items considered a nuisance.
The letters for each location provided notification that a formal order for removal and abatement was scheduled for action at Monday’s council meeting. If the city abates or removes the nuisance, the city shall give notice to the owner or agent by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the total cost of the abatement or removal incurred by the city.
“We’ve discussed it before and this is a move in the right direction, passing resolutions. It looks easy, but this is just one tool in the tool box...We need to continue the discussion...No contractors have expressed any interest in stepping on private property and this pulls staff off other things,” Councilman Cale Magruder said.
“I agree. We need to catch this stuff when it’s small before it blows up,” Councilor Jamie Crum advised.
Both City Manager Josh Shaw and Assistant City Manager Cody Sims explained that the nuisance abatement system is a strategic step in responding to the issues.
Council approved all three resolutions; No. 2019-05, 128 E. Main; No. 2019-06, 781 W. Broadway; and No. 2019-07, 804 W. Clark.
Utility easements for Park Place
Assistant City Manager Cody Sims presented a proposal to accept utility easements along Highland Drive, Washington Lane, and Westwood Ave. in support of the Basin A Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Project. He explained that for the past several months, sanitary sewer infrastructure in the west part of the community has been involved in a major rehabilitation. The purpose of the project is to provide needed maintenance to infrastructure in order to improve the efficiency and reliability of the utility.
Staff coordinated with 20 property owners to secure easements that will alow crews to enter the property and make repairs. The City is not purchasing the property through the acquisition of utility easements, but rather, the easements will provide the City with a right to enter the property for maintenance, with property owners retaining ownership of the land within the easement.
The proposed easements will cost the City $9,825.28 and will be paid out of 2019 Budget.
Also approved was the grant contract through the Kansas Waste Tire Grant Program in the amount of $75,000 for the installation of rubber pour-in-place soft safety surfacing at the Dalton Palmer Memorial Playground in downtown Augusta. The playground was initially constructed with wood fiber surface , primarily because of cost involved with rubberized surfacing. The City received confirmation from KDHE in late March that the application for the grant was successful.
The City’s obligation is to complete the work by April 2020 and to provide at least $75,000 in matching cash/in-kind contributions to the project. The city’s portion will be funded from a combination of different sources such as Pride & Progress Fund 56, Capital Improvement Fund 16, and interest income.