Florence OKs purchase of USD 408 buildings

At its July 2 meeting, the Florence City Council voted to purchase the buildings being offered by Unified School District 408.

Although the purchase price was one dollar, councilors have talked at length during several recent meetings about whether to accept the buildings.

Councilors were concerned with maintenance and the possibility of having to sell the building if the buildings become vacant in the future.

However, the building is currently a source of income because of the lease to OASIS, a program of the Marion County Special Education Cooperative.

Also, city events could be held in the building when they don?t conflict with the current tenant?s schedule.

Other buildings in town have sold for a reasonable amount even at auction, such as the former nursing home that was auctioned for $30,000.

In the end, the Council voted 3-1 to purchase the former Florence school gymnasium and home economics buildings for $1 from USD 408.

Teresa Huffman, economic development director for Marion County, addressed the council about the city?s potential and some programs that might be available to Florence.

She spoke of a program called ?Hometown Competitive?ness? that helps small towns attract industry and enhance economic development. She would like to plan a meeting with the owners of downtown buildings to see if any are interested in selling or leasing business space. Huffman said she has sent pictures of Florence?s downtown area to the Kansas Department of Commerce to assess the possibility of getting grant money to restore it.

She has also learned that U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development funding for storm shelters is available to municipalities as well as to low-income homeowners.

The council agreed to keep in contact with Huffman as she looks into various means of helping improve the area.

In other business, the council:

n heard that police are developing a list of possible suspects in the vandalisms of Grandview Park restrooms and other locations around town.

The crimes have been costing the city hundreds of dollars and seem to be occurring between midnight and early morning.

n heard that the PRIDE committee will have a fund-raiser dinner and entertainment in Veterans? Park July 28. The committee is planning renovations to the park and will unveil the plan to the public at the dinner.

n heard that PRIDE will have an antiques, arts and crafts festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the third Saturday in September, which coincides with craft festivals in Hillsboro and Marion.

n will work on generating a list of city-owned properties for the Chamber of Commerce so that interested businesses could get the information if looking to develop in Florence.

n approved a request by Sarah Neal to have a mailbox for the Chamber placed at the city building. Neal also said she hoped people liked the landscaping done by the Chamber around the ?Welcome to Florence? sign.

n tabled until the next work meeting a suggestion from Alan Hayes for replacing storm sewers. His plan to replace culverts one side at a time would leave the other side open to through traffic while keeping the fresh cement from cracking because of being driven upon too quickly.

n will start enforcing the ordinance that baseball teams must pay their yearly $150 fee prior to the season and ask an unpaid ball team to either pay now or stop using the field.

n will pay $75 per person for Councilor Trayce Warner, Mayor Greg Winn and City Clerk Janet Robinson to attend a leadership academy in Junction City.

n heard from Fire Chief Tim Parmley that three new firefighters had joined the department.

n appointed Leonard Ellis to the Florence Planning Commit?tee, keeping all prior appointments in place.

n approved purchase of curb paint and drain treatment for root removal.

n ended the meeting with a 15-minute executive session for personnel-related matters with no action following.

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