Garden Plain annexes portion of Prairie Sunset Trail

By Travis Mounts
The Times-Sentinel

GARDEN PLAIN – Roughly three miles of the Prairie Sunset Trail will become part of the City of Garden Plain.

The city council approved annexing the trail east to 247th Street West during the council’s monthly meeting on Feb. 5.

The Prairie Travelers had asked for annexation of the trail, along a former rail line, although the initial request was for just the mile east of Garden Plain, from 295th Street east to 279th Street West.

Larry Hatfield, president of the Prairie Travelers group that maintains the trail and advocates for it, said there was precedent for such an arrangement. He pointed to annexations that have been completed by Wichita and Goddard.

The annexation will help the group as Garden Plain city crew members will mow that stretch. Employees looked into what would be required to take care of the trail, and said they could handle a longer stretch of the trail than the Prairie Travelers’ original request. The Prairie Travelers’ board was happy to accept that offer.

Garden Plain officials want to further develop the west end of the trailhead in the city. They have been trying to get permission to create parking on the west side of 295th Street West, but have not been able to make much progress with Watco Companies, which still owns the railroad going west.

There was a mention during the meeting of the railroad company potentially abandoning the line west to Pratt. City officials in both Garden Plain and Cheney said they had received no word of any such action. Both cities would be happy to see the rail line abandoned. They see potential in the Prairie Sunset Trail expanding west. Goddard has turned the former railway through the heart of the city into Linear Park, with trails, a new shelter, park equipment and a splash pad, and even a storm shelter. Linear Park hosts several community events each year, and much of the city’s fall festival now take place in the park.

In other business:

• Council members approved the annual appointments by Mayor Kevin Hammond. This list includes muncipal judge Harold Flaigle, city clerk Kimberly McCormick, court clerk Bonnie Kopper, city attorney Shawn Elliott, city treasurer Darren Haukap, and police chief and personnel administrator Robert Sharp. Randall Hubert, Rick Heimerman and Keith Hansen were reappointed to new two-year terms on the planning commission. The Times-Sentinel was named the official city newspaper, and Garden Plain State Bank was named the official city depository.

• The council approved a request by Jim Pearce for a water connection outside of the city limits.

• As discussed in January, IdeaTek was granted a franchise agreement in Garden Plain. The company is looking to provide internet service to rural areas around Garden Plain, but needs access within the city to do that. City attorney Shawn Elliott said there is little for cities to negotiate when it comes to franchise agreement because of state law changes.

“It’s increasingly becoming all statutory,” he said, adding that the federal government may eventually take that over from states.

The company has said it may provide its service within the city, if enough interest is shown to justify the costs.

• Council members discussed street repairs and crack sealing for 2020, but tabled action for a month to give members a chance to assess areas of concern.

• Planning commission chair Chris Drum reported it appears the city will get most of what it requested when Sedgwick County finalizes its revised  new areas of zoning influence. Garden Plain will see its footprint of influence expand, although the requested area north of U.S. Highway 54 most likely won’t be included. That is not a surprise to city leaders.

• Garden Plain High School students will take part in a new school work day, slated for April 23. The city’s annual clean-up day will be Saturday, April 25.