Planes, No Trains, and Automobiles

Sunrise 31 Dec 2011 (looking northwest over Lansing City Hall)

Terry and I attended the local City Council meeting this past Thursday night.  We opted to attend in person first because agenda item number seven directly affected us (see my previous post on the ‘no parking’ sign installed and uninstalled last month on Bambi Court) and, second, because we cannot watch the ‘reruns’ of the council meetings on Channel 2 since we do not subscribe to Time Warner Cable (we are DirecTV customers, at least for the time being).  However, after digging around on the City’s website, I found their media center and discovered they had already posted the video from Thursday night’s council meeting for viewing online by the time I started composing this post on Saturday morning.  Regardless, we arrived about thirty minutes early because we did not know how well attended the meeting would be.  We also thought we would be searched for security purposes, but we were not (a sign posted next to the council chamber entrance stated the obvious restrictions – no weapons, etc.).  A printed agenda lay before the sign, but no printouts of supporting documentation (in particular the two ordinances placed on the agenda).

Prior to the meeting, I overhead a performing arts tidbit of note: The Vienna Boys Choir will perform not one block away from my house next month (February 19, 2012 at 3:00pm ~ Lansing District Auditorium).  I may stop by the Carnegie Arts Center while running errands later today and purchase tickets.

During the Audience Participation portion of the meeting, we heard a report on the success of the past two year’s Kansas Sampler Festival.  At the conclusion of the report, I expected the Mayor to ask if anyone else present had a non-agenda item to present, but instead he immediately skipped to the first agenda item, that of the presentation by Coffman and Associates of the results of their Site Selection Study for the Leavenworth County Regional Airport.   Rather than repeat their entire presentation here within my blog post, I will instead refer you to the public website hosting all the studies (including the Site Selection one):  Leavenworth County Airport Study

Exhibit 3F (Site Selection Study)

I was surprised (well, perhaps not) that the recommended site, of the three sites found feasible, happened to be just a mile or so south of my residence in Lansing, referred to as the Gilman Road Site.  Probably not the most ideal spot from my perspective as a home owner (prop planes flying directly overhead at much lower altitudes than the large commercial jets that fly over to land at KCI on the other side of the river), but I can appreciate the positive economic impact this site would have for Lansing in general and Leavenworth County at large.  Apparently, though, the Leavenworth City Council, and Commissioner Phil Urban in particular, does not agree with my take on the recommend site. He was quoted in a Leavenworth Times news item (published the day before the Lansing City Council meeting) that he ‘hated seeing everything going south.’  He further stated he would vote against the City of Leavenworth ‘being involved in building an airport at the Gilman Road site’ but would vote in favor for either of the other two sites (Coffin Road northwest of Leavenworth or Eisenhower Road to the west – see map above).  The lone commenter to that Leavenworth Times article observed the obvious, but did raise some points of interest.

The regional airport for Leavenworth County is by no means a done deal.  Two more studies need to be completed, but first a sponsor needs to step forward.  A regrouping with the other municipal and county entities looks to be the next action item before anything further can proceed.

The meeting proceed apace soon after the Site Selection Study presentation, with the tabling of agenda item number three.  I did not completely follow the gist of the conversation between the Mayor and the City Administrator, but someone vital (either from the LCDC or another local organization) had planned to attend but obviously had not made it to the meeting.

Agenda item four was quickly approved (unanimously) and we moved on the agenda item five, a request to purchase police vehicles (specifically two Dodge Chargers and a Tahoe).  After a brief explanation by the Chief of Police (at least I assumed he was the Chief of Police … we were not formally introduced) and some questions and discussion from the Council Members, the item was approved (again unanimously).

The next two agenda items dealt with city ordinances (specifically numbers 899 and 900).  Having worked in the legal field for over twenty years, and read many legal documents (including statutes, regulations, municipal codes, briefs, etc. etc. ad infinitum), I really wanted to get my hands on the text of the ordinances.  I held my piece, however, since I had no real options as an observer.  Yes, I could have stood up and inserted myself into the discussion, but I refrained (or restrained) myself as the Council Members were doing a good job of asking appropriate questions and stimulating debate.

Ordinance No. 899 was a rezoning action request for several lots in the Carriage Crossing area.  Greenamyre Rentals owned the lots and needed them rezoned and replatted.   Many questions and concerns were raised, including the ‘chicken and egg’ observation that replatting couldn’t be done without rezoning, but ultimately the action passed (with one dissenting vote by Council Member Andi Pawlowski).

Ordinance No. 900 was a proposed amendment to the Lansing City Code regarding the regulation of parking on public streets during snow and ice removal within the corporate city limits.  Obviously, this is the moment we’d been waiting for.  And although neither Terry nor I stood up to partake in the discussion, we were pleased with the Council Members questions, concerns and actions.   While our two Council Members (for Ward Two) cast dissenting votes, the amendment passed.  My concerns about parking in the cul-de-sac during the other ten or eleven months of the year were alleviated earlier during the debate.   I was again shocked though by the Mayor’s assumption that the discussion had concluded, without opening the floor up to others for questions or comments.  If I had felt very strongly, I would not have hesitated to stand and assert my opinion, regardless of any resulting embarrassment or impoliteness.   The Mayor asked if there were any further questions, but then immediately, without taking a breath, called for the vote.

The meeting quickly wrapped up and adjourned soon after the last agenda item approval.  No reports were delivered by the City Engineer, the City Attorney, the City Administrators or others.  I made my way to the secretary (at least I assumed she was the meeting secretary since she appeared to be taking down the minutes for the meeting) and asked if the ordinances were available for review online.  She said no, at least not until signed, but she would gladly e-mail me a copy of Ordinance No. 900 as soon as it was available.  I left her my business card.

Terry and I returned home, sooner than we thought, the meeting only taking a little more than an hour to complete.  I need to reach out to our Council Members and thank them for listening to their constituents and representing their interests well during the council meeting.

Our brief foray into civic participation ended on a more upbeat note than we originally thought it might.  Perhaps we’ll do it again next month, just for fun.