Sabetha City Commission: Fate of Midtown Building decided

After a lengthy discussion on Monday, Oct. 28, the Sabetha City Commission voted in favor of getting an estimate and tearing down the Midtown Building. Present for the discussion were Mayor Doug Clark, Commissioners Maridel Wittmer, Julie Burenheide, Nick Aberle and Norm Schmitt; City Administrator Doug Allen, Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer and City Clerk Steve Compo. Guests present were Bob Ruddick and Gary Satter.

Currently, the building is being used for storage and serves as a place for Kids Kloset. The gym is no longer open to the public.

Allen confirmed for the board that the building is not condemned, despite rumors.

“I don’t think it makes any sense to renovate that building,” Clark said. “We’re paying money to maintain it now.”

Allen said that the last “rough” estimate he got to tear it down was $150,000 from Herrmann Excavating.

Aberle asked about the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Allen confirmed that the Girl Scouts were out and the Boy Scout building was unattached, so it would stay. Aberle then questioned if the school had been wanting to use it.

“Originally, we were asked about it,” Allen said. “We’re not going to let them use it, I wouldn’t guarantee them anything because I didn’t know what was happening with it.”

“Why would we let the school use it, if we wouldn’t let the home-schooled kids use it?” Burenheide said.

“That’s a good question,” Aberle said. “Where these two things come together is, we have a wellness center that is really nice and works, but it’s not a recreation center. In the terms of recreation, it has a lot of rules. So for a 4-H group, or Prairie Meadows or the home-schooled kids or parent teacher conferences, when 15 kids want to get together and play basketball and they don’t happen to have access to a building, where can they go and are we obligated – as the Parks and Recreation department of the city – where we have always provided a free gym?”

“What do you call this right here?” Wittmer said, pointing at the gym located in the city building.

“I would say that if you have 15 people to go play basketball in there, it doesn’t work,” Aberle said.

The board discussed the possibility of using The Main Event as a place for kids and groups to go.

Aberle questioned what would happen with the land after the building was torn down.

“I think you make the decision to tear it down and the future land things we can address later,” Allen said.

The board voted 5-0 in favor of tearing the building down and seeing what it is going to cost.

Glacial Hills Business Resource Center

Gary Satter with Glacial Hills Business Resource Center came to present to the commissioners about the Resource Center, which opened in September 2016. Satter said Glacial Hills is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is the only businesses incubator in northeast Kansas.

Satter discussed some of the businesses that have offices in Glacial Hills, as well as some of the trainings and workshops they have provided to the businesses in the center.

Satter reminded the commissioners that back in September 2016, the City of Sabetha provided support of $10,000 per year for three years to Glacial Hills to help the facility.

“We are not where we want to be yet,” Satter said. “We would like to ask for support for another three years of $7,500 per year.”

Satter said they still have some things they are wanting to get completed such as fixing the roof above the kitchen, which has been leaking.

Commissioner Schmitt questioned if Glacial Hills was an incubator for businesses or if it was more of center for businesses in the long term.

“The company I work for is a part of an incubator,” Schmitt said. “They want to help us grow and then they get us out after a certain amount of time.”

Schmitt questioned whether or not Glacial Hills had a certain number of years the businesses could be in the center.

“We haven’t set that yet,” Satter said. “I don’t think we should until we have a waiting list. For right now, until we grow and get financially stable, we want everybody.”

“I really like the idea of an incubator,” Schmitt said. “The thing is, is there are competitors who are not asking for money to fix their roofs. We are not being fair to the entire community if we provide more money.”

“I agree with Norm on that,” Burenheide said. “You have other businesses out there doing it on their own, and they take a lot of risks. They have their own stuff to fix.”

Satter said the center is currently at 70 percent occupancy and that they thought they would have more businesses in the center by now. Along with that, Satter said the biggest things the center has to pay is property taxes and utilities. Currently, businesses inside the facility are only charged $150 per month and Glacial Hills is also absorbing the cost of utilities.

“You’re kind of in a hard spot,” Aberle said. “You need to charge more rent, but you don’t want to charge more rent because then they will leave.”

“It’s hard for me to say that we would help financially,” Burenheide said.

“I will say most people ask for more but he asked for less,” Wittmer said.

After further discussion, Clark made a motion to support Glacial Hills for three more years at $5,000 per year.

“Has anybody looked at our budget?” Burenheide said. “We are tight. We’re going to start asking for donations if we keep shelling out money. Maridel that is kind of your department. Have you seen the finances?”

“I have,” Wittmer said.

“It’s very tight and I would hate to put that on my taxpayers,” Burenheide said.

The commissioners voted 3-2 to provide $5,000 per year to Glacial Hills for another three years. Schmitt and Burenheide were opposed.

“After this, we’re done,” Clark said to Satter.

“We won’t be back,” Satter said.

Also at the meeting:

The board approved the minutes from the Oct. 14 meeting.

The board approved Cereal Malt Beverage Licenses for Dollar General for 2019; and to Casey’s, Pizza Hut, All Star Convenience, Garrett Country Mart and Dollar General for 2020.

The board was invited to the Sabetha Volunteer Fire Department Family Night on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Sabetha Golf Club.

The board will meet again at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at Sabetha City Hall.

Heather Stewart189 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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