By Leilani Haywood
Tribune Reporter

The City of Lee’s Summit Public Works Committee recommended purchasing land downtown for additional parking and improving Douglas Street and Colbern Road for consideration by City Council for its $40 million Capital Improvement Project budget. Mayor Pro Tem Rob Binney made the motion to recommend the projects at the Public Works Committee meeting on April 4, 2018. Councilwoman Diane Seif seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously with Committee Chairman Craig Faith and committee members Councilman Fred DeMoro, Binney and Councilwoman Seif voting in favor.

Public Works Director Dena Mezger said in the presentation that Colbern Road and Pryor Road are eligible for federal funding and have been submitted for consideration the funding cycle in fiscal year 2021. Colbern Road could receive $2 million to $5 million in federal funds and there may be $1 million to $3 million remaining from the 2007 CIP sales tax, according to her presentation.

“We also may have a little bit left in the 2007 storm water bonds,” Mezger said. “My guess is less than a million but we could do some of those stormwater projects still out of use up that funding.”

Councilman DeMoro asked about the Colbern Road project being in competition with Kansas City, Mis-souri’s Buck O’Neill bridge project for federal funds.

“Kansas City did a bit of an unusual move earlier this year where they asked the group that prioritizes this money and it makes the recommendations to guarantee that Kansas City would receive 40 million dollars over two years from that funding cycle for the Buck O’Neill bridge,” Mezger said. “The conditions were that they had to come up somewhere with another 60 million dollars because it’s a 200 million dollar project. The one they have envisioned and MoDOT said we will pay half if you can come up with the other half. Kansas City is in the process of trying to find 60 million dollars.”

Mezger said Lee’s Summit was in a good position to receive federal funding because matching funds have already been identified.

“We are in competition with other communities,” she said. “We’re one of the larger ones and quite frankly we were one of the few that have our matching funds identified upfront. We usually do very well because we can tell them exactly where that matching fund is coming from and that we already have it being collected today for this project in the future. So we have that kind of edge over a lot of folks in the compe-tition. And we’re not really up against the Buck O’Neil bridge.”

DeMoro also questioned the need for an additional downtown parking lot because he conducted his own audit which showed that the parking garage by City Hall wasn’t being fully utilized. Mezger said the lot has 325 to 350 parking spaces and signage has been ordered to let people know that it is a public parking lot because of the misperception that the parking garage was just for city employees.

“I have never seen it full and I’ve audited it for five days and it doesn’t even come close to capacity,” said DeMoro.

The cost of acquiring the land and adding surface parking is estimated at $1 million. Building the parking garage is approximately $8 million according to Mezger. She added that a parking study showed a need for more parking downtown. City Traffic Engineer Michael Parker said at the March 15, 2018 meeting that two sites were being considered for a parking structure. “There were two other locations – one was on the west side of the tracks near the old post office the other is on the east side of the tracks hear 4th and East Main.”

Improving Colbern Road between Douglas and Unity Village’s entrance was considered a high priority for economic development at the March 15, 2018 committee meeting. The proposed CIP projects fall within three groups: one to five years; six to 10 years and 10 to 15 years depending on cash flow. The projects slated to be done within the next one to five years include: Colbern Road design, land acquisition for downtown parking, stormwater projects, improving 3rd Street between U.S. 50 and Jefferson Street, Douglas Street design, and trail head improvements. Curb replacement and sidewalk gaps were considered ongoing with flexibility to move within the list.

Upgrading Pryor Road was initially on the list to be done within the next five years but was switched with the Douglas Street project. Councilwoman Seif requested that Douglas Street be moved up because it is a gateway into downtown. Douglas Street was slated to be done in phase three within the next 11 to 15 years. Mezger estimated that improving Douglas Street “at about $5.5 million,” she said.

The timeline for the next step is to submit the CIP request to the Planning Committee on April 17 for a public hearing on May 22 and then a resolution by the City Council adopting the requests at the June 7, 2018 meeting.