Council delays easement acquisition for Osage City airport project

The Osage City Council delayed acquisition of property for the city’s ongoing airport improvement project Tuesday night after a city council member said he believed that more land should be acquired before the city agreed to purchase airspace needed for the project.

During discussion of the approval of a purchase agreement with Gary and Cindy Moulin for surface and overhead easement on 9.11 acres of land near the northeast corner of the airport, Osage City Council Member Bruce Schoepflin first questioned the amount to be paid for the property. He noted the council had previously approved “money from the FAA on $17,512 for the Moulin property,” but was asked to instead approve payment of $13,000 in the agreement.

Osage City Manager Linda Jones said the appraised amount of the property was less than estimated, and the higher estimated expenditure likely included engineering fees.

Osage City Mayor Quintin Robert confirmed the council had previously approved the funding application.

“We’ve got the money setting there. We just have to execute contract, submit the request for reimbursement and they will send us 90 percent back,” Robert said.

The agreement approved Aug. 31 by the Moulins allowed them to continue to grow crops and graze the land, but prohibits structures, lights, fuel handling and storage equipment or other obstructions in the easement area.

During the discussion, Osage City Council Member Leroy Stromgren made comments that were inaudible to the audience, but Schoepflin chuckled and said, “I think Leroy’s making a point here he needs to come right out and say.”

Stromgren didn’t comment and Schoepflin continued, “The point is one I tried to make when we approved the deals from FAA. I’d sure like to see some land acquisitions of, toward the ground we’re going to need, before we start buying up air space.

“You know with the government the way they are right now, who knows in four or five years if the money’s even going to be there to build this,” Schoepflin said. “You know, if it’s going to be put a halt to the project, I don’t see why it would matter. The way I feel is we need to get the land bought first before we start acquiring airspace.”

Robert said that about half of the acquisitions needed for the project had been completed.

Schoepflin answered, “The way I feel, Ben Thompson’s the one that needs to be. I know we’re in the stages of that, however long that’s going to take. The way I read it, as far as this money from FAA, it can hold it up to four years, right? So we got the money to do it. Do we have to do it now, or should we prolong this and get some of this other stuff done first?”

City attorney Rick Godderz said delaying approval of the agreement could allow the owners to back out.

Osage City Council Member Rob Rowe then questioned Godderz, “Why would somebody back out of getting money for doing nothing.”

Godderz noted the property is highway frontage, and said the agreement requires the owners to forfeit rights to construct on or develop the land, or to sell it for those purposes.

Questioned by Schoepflin, Godderz said the easement could be cancelled in the future if the airport expansion was never built.

Stromgren then questioned the amount offered to the Moulins, saying at about $1,400 per acre, it was only $400 less an acre than that given for previously acquired farm ground in the project area. He said the price set precedence for land still to be purchased, saying he believed other owners would now want more for their land.

“I guarantee you if they let you farm the ground and let him keep the ground, and they give him $1,400, I’m sure going to want more than $1,800,” Stromgren said about other owners. “I think that the FAA is jumping out of bed before they got shoes to put on.”

Following Stromgren’s comments, Schoepflin offered, “I’ll go ahead and make a motion that we do not proceed with any buying up air rights until all the land acquisitions are done and finalized.”

With Robert questioning Godderz about how the proposed action would affect the contract with the FAA, Stromgren said, “Let’s just table this until we read the contract.”

After trying to determine the procedure of how Schoepflin could rescind his motion, he asked to rescind his motion and then made a motion to table the land acquisition for 30 days, which the council approved.

Osage City Council Member Becky Brewer requested that engineers overseeing the airport project be present at the first council meeting in November.

In other business during the Oct. 8 meeting, the council heard a request from members of the Osage County Fair Association to add showers in the community building during construction of additional restrooms as part of USD 420’s school bond project. With Stromgren saying he “thought it was still an open deal”, the council agreed to direct Jones to invite USD 420 Superintendent Troy Hutton to the next council meeting to discuss the addition of showers to the project.

“I think you need to call him up and tell him to wait until he comes to talk to us,” Stromgren said when someone said that restroom construction had already begun.

The council also heard from Bob Koopman, of PEC, the engineering firm working with the city on the ongoing rehabilitation project of the city lake dam. Koopman told the council the project had over ran its work schedule due to unforeseen complications and was expected to take at least 45 more days to complete. He said part of the delay was due to the concrete surface of the dam being found in worse condition than believed, which required further testing and removal of more concrete than planned.

Koopman’s request to extend his company’s engineering and inspection services contract for 45 days was met with questions from Schoepflin and Stromgren about the additional cost. Koopman estimated the fees would be about $1,000 a day when an inspector was on site. Stromgren noted that the city is required by law to have an inspector on site while the construction is ongoing. Koopman said he needed some type of commitment from the council to provide an inspector at the site. At Robert’s suggestion, and with Stromgren voting nay, the council agreed to extend PEC’s contract for two more weeks, or until the next council meeting.

The council also tabled an offer from the Thomas Nordling family to donate to the city a small tract of land at Fifth and Market streets. The council directed city staff to research conditions of the property.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas