City discusses Midtown building

The Sabetha City Commission met at 6 p.m. Monday, May 13. Those present were commissioners Julie Burenheide, Maridel Wittmer, Norm Schmitt and Nick Aberle, Mayor Doug Clark, City Administrator Doug Allen, Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer, City Clerk Steve Compo, and City Attorney Martin Mishler. Others present were Jay Barber, Marty Sykes and Austin Wasinger.

Midtown Plans

The commission discussed the plans for the Midtown Building, since the new Sabetha Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) is set to open in June. It was previously discussed to tear down the Midtown Building in order not to compete with the SHWC.

“I get not competing on exercise because we are charging for that, but they are not offering a free gym for kids or people that want to just go play basketball,” Aberle said. “They are offering a pay per use gym. They just want to blow off some steam, and we don’t have a place in town to do that if we tear Midtown down because the city hall gym does not offer that anymore.”

Aberle said that — with so many streets that need to be fixed in Sabetha — he can’t imagine “spending $100,000 to tear something down” that could wait another five years.

Schmitt suggested having designated times set aside at SHWC for the public to come in, since it is using tax dollars.

“Anytime you have public dollars, you have to give public access at designated periods,” Schmitt said.

“Well let’s not close the gym until we have another alternative together, which won’t be until the end of June in any case,” Clark said. “When we have all of this worked out, then we will close the gym [Midtown].”

Clark asked Allen to get some numbers put together, including the yearly maintenance cost at Midtown for five years and what will it cost to tear it down. Schmitt asked what the cost of membership will be, if that one [Midtown] stays open.

Pony Creek lake

Jay Barber came before the board to discuss possible improvements that need to be made at Pony Creek Lake, and the possibility of having a park ranger.

“From Fish and Game, we get $11,000 a year for Pony Creek and $3,000 for the old Lake [Sabetha City Lake],” Barber said. “Since we leased that 15 years ago, not one improvement has been made at Pony Creek.

Barber suggested that Pony Creek Lake multiple improvements that could be make to the lake, such as adding a boat dock and a floating fish cleaning station. He also suggested moving the shelter house on the hill down by the restrooms, and putting some playground equipment and picnic tables down there as well. Other suggestions were adding urinals to the men’s restroom, fishing piers, rocking the roads, adding turnarounds and putting a road that leads back into the river channel.

“We get the money so why not spend it,” Barber said. “I know it goes in the general fund and somehow gets lost.”

He also suggested having a part-time designated park ranger.

Allen said that Marty Sykes currently does the park ranger duties at the lakes.

“Isn’t that only in the mornings?” Barber said. “Nobody is out there on the weekends. It’s important to have someone out there on the weekends. We get the money. I don’t know why we can’t have a part-time designated park ranger.”

“If Marty is doing the job, I don’t see why we would hire a separate title,” Clark said.

Allen also said that the money from Fish and Game is currently being put into the roads, mowing and paying Sykes as the Park Ranger at both lakes.

Clark said they are looking into graveling the road out there, but they do not have the figures yet; and Allen said they are looking into the fish cleaning station as well.

“I am glad you are passionate about our lakes,” Burenheide said.

Code enforcement

Aberle mentioned code enforcement — stating that the city is asking Chief of Police Robert Wahwasuck to do three or four jobs, including chief of police, dog catcher and code enforcer.

Currently, Sabetha police officers are supposed to give citations out for code violations, but Allen said that all of the police officers are trained on giving citations for grass that is too tall, but the rest of the code enforcement falls on Wahwasuck.

Aberle asked if they wanted the police to do the code enforcement, saying that the city may need to consider hiring a part-time code enforcement officer.

“They’re [Sabetha Police] out there every day driving the streets,” Burenheide said.

“That doesn’t meant they are the best qualified people to do it,” Clark said.

In relation to code enforcement, Clark asked Allen to look into a program that would buy old houses that are run down and tear them down.

Also at the meeting:

Commissioners approved the minutes from the April 22 meeting.

The board approved appointing the following people to boards: Sam Keim and Luke Scoby, Recreation Board; Greg Mock, Jerre Lauer, Dennis Stones and Jim Johnson, Cemetery Board; Trudie Barnes and Patty Remmers, Sabetha Housing Authority; and David Koch, Jerry Johnson and Mark Schurter, Planning Commission. Two positions remain open on the Library Board, as well as four positions on the Tree Board.

The commissioners discussed a mural to be painted at the Sabetha Lake Shelter House, which was a project presented to the commissioners by Sabetha High School juniors. The commissioners approved the mural and buying the paint for this project.

Allen invited the commissioners to take a tour of the wellness center the following day at noon.

The commissioners entered into a 25-minute executive session to discuss personnel matters in the police department. No action was taken following the executive session.

The commissioners will not be meeting on Monday, May 27, due to the Memorial Day holiday. The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, June 10, at City Hall.

Heather Stewart228 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.

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