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Larned City Council Authorizes Submission of CBDB Grant to Help Fund Larned Community Center Improvements


By Lucky Kidd


LARNED, Kan. — The Larned City Council has authorized the submission of a Community Development Block Grant to help fund improvements to the Larned Community Center and two agreements related to the application. City Manager Brad Elits told the Council Monday one of the community-wide facility needs that has become increasingly difficult to address is long-overdue improvements to the Community Center.

City Manager Brad Elits said over the past year staff has been working with Ranson Financial on several grant applications and matching needs with funding assistance. Out of those discussions, Ranson representatives Rosemary Saunders and Crystal Hinnen along with Clint Hibbs from BG Consultants did a walk-through of the Community Center to look at known issues and identify others that could be eligible for grant funding.

Five specific items were identified from that walk-through, among which is replacement of the center’s HVAC system which was estimated to be in the area of 40 years old. While they have been able to patch the system to keep it operational, it’s not known how long that can continue. The cost for a replacement is expected to exceed $100,000. Connected with that is a desire to add a ladder to access the rooftop mounted system.

Another issue involves Americans With Disabilities Act compliance. One area of concern is the kitchen area, where the primary need is to lower counters for access, but there may be more needs for which cost estimates will be obtained. Previously the city has invested in lifts to stage and seating areas, bathrooms and such.

Within the auditorium two main issues were identified, one of which is a need to replace the sound system which was described as not great and on which wireless systems use frequencies that can no longer be used for this purpose. Replacing it would also carry a more than $100,000 cost. There is also a need to address issues on the stage including flooring improvements.

As part of the grant process the Council approved a $7,000 contract with Ranson Financial, which has extensive experience in CDBG projects, for writing the grant application, and a $5,800 contract with BG Consultants for a preliminary engineering report that will be part of the application.

On a separate grant matter, The Council authorized submission of a full application to the Kansas Department of Transportation for funding from the State Routes to Schools program. Earlier, the city submitted a concept paper to KDOT, which led to the proposed project being selected to complete a full application.

The overall project is designed to provide walking pathways to Fort Larned Elementary School. The main project would extend a pedestrian pathway from the front entrance of the school, then south along the east side of Broadway to 17th where a flashing beacon would be installed as the sidewalk crosses Broadway, and then connect to existing sidewalks on 16th and 17th Streets. The Broadway part of the project would end at an existing sidewalk between 15th and 16th.

The project also proposed a sidewalk extension along 16th street from State to College which would connect into the Northside Athletic Fields and Doerr-Vernon Park, along with ADA improvements, school crossings, driveway replacements as needed, and added safety features.

It also envisions a future sidewalk extending east from Broadway along 17th to Toles, which would connect to Jordaan Park, the Larned Community Center, and the golf course and driving range.

While the SRTS program has a standard 20% match requirement, the city of Larned qualifies for 100% funding with the exception of right of way acquisition and any utility relocation, which are estimated to cost just under $ 16,800.

The council approved paying half of the cost to extend electric service to a new concrete mixing yard at Eakin Enterprises’ compound south of Larned, with a maximum city contribution of $2,500, though the projected contribution will likely be less than that. This follows past precedent of the Council in assisting with expansion projects for economic development.

The Council approved purchase of unassembled lockers for the Swimming Pool. Police Chief Lance Duft suggested this purchase in the wake of some thefts last year. Being purchased are two 12 by 18-inch four tier plastic lockers, three wide and six feet high. Purchased unassembled, the cost comes to $2,626.23 which is a savings of just under $370 over assembled units. It’s being funded from pool reserve funds.

Chief Duft presented to the Council information on Flock cameras, which many communities around Kansas are now using to assist in law enforcement. The cameras are designed to provide license plate recognition, gather objective evidence and facts on vehicles, alert police on wanted vehicles, and general crime solving use.

The Flock system is not facial recognition, nor is it tied to personal identifiable information or for traffic enforcement. Data within the system is only stored for 30 days, at which point it’s automatically deleted.

Locally the Flock system is currently being utilized by the Ellinwood and Great Bend police departments and the Barton and Pratt County Sheriff’s Offices. As an example of how it can be used, in Chanute during the first 90 days they had the Flock system they were able to recover over $111,000 in stolen property including three vehicles. It also led to seizure of marijuana and methamphetamine, arrests of six people, and clearing of ten cases.

Dispatch Superintendent Vanessa Feldman also gave the Council a presentation on the 2023 call volume handled by their center, including that for the Larned Police and Fire Departments, Pawnee County EMS and the Pawnee County Sheriff’s offices.

The Council received a 2025 budget presentation from Jordaan Memorial Library head librarian Christy Meyer. The budget calls for total expenditures of $221,000, a little over half of which goes towards salaries and related items. The City of Larned would provide $170,000 of the funding for that budget, derived from a property tax levy of up to eight mills though Revenue Neutral Rate requirements would limit the actual levy, Pawnee County also contributes to library funding along with fines, fees and miscellaneous income.

Larned-Pawnee County Airport Manager Steve Gross also gave the Council a report on airport operations. The city provides about a half mill of property tax revenue for the airport and is responsible for funding one third of airport operational costs, the county covering the remainder., with the city and county equally dividing the cost of capital improvements.

In other actions, the Council approved a cereal malt beverage license for Santa Fe Trail Days’ beer garden at Jordaan Park May 24th through the 26th, and re-appointed Utility Superintendent Ralph Streit as one of the city’s two representatives on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency and Harry Zielke as the city’s alternate member, both for two-year terms. The city manager is the other voting representative on the KMEA board.