By Travis Mounts
CHENEY – A possible expansion of the Prairie Sunset Trail topped the Cheney City Council agenda on Jan. 14.
Larry Hatfield, president of the Prairie Travelers, Inc., nonprofit that maintains parts of the trail and advocates for it, told the city that railroad company Watco is open to the idea of expanding the trail west from Garden Plain, through Cheney and on to Murdock (read more in the Jan. 14 TSnews).
“They felt like that would be an excellent candidate for a trail,” Hatfield said.
But there is a possible hang-up.
“Watco would like for this group to purchase this corridor,” Hatfield said. The group wants Watco to donate the right-of-way, as has been the precedent on trails across the state. “Those negotiations are ongoing.”
The Prairie Travelers would like to see cities along the trail help with purchasing part of the right-of-way and to share in maintenance. The group has reached agreements with other cities along the Prairie Sunset Trail, which right now runs from Garden Plain to near Hoover Road in Wichita, passing through Goddard’s Linear Park.
City council members had concerns about costs and liability. No action was taken.
In other business:
• Council members learned that the Cheney Recreation Commission has decided to not pursue a grant that would have helped pay for additional playground equipment at the Cheney Sports Complex on South Main Street. The city had been asked to pay for shipping and mulch, as it had for the first playground equipment installed at the park. The items had been tabled twice while waiting for the cost.
• The council approved a special use permit for a shed to go on a property at 825 Sunset. The owners have another property to the south, and live in a home on an adjoining property that fronts Evergreen Court. After removing two trailer homes on the two Evergreen properties, placing a shed on the property was no longer permissible, according to the city’s zoning ordinances. Part of the issue was an alley right-of-way going between the properties, although there is no alley and no plans to put one in.
The special use permit allows the owners to place the shed now. In addition, the city has set a hearing to permanently vacate that alley way as well as others in the vicinity immediately west, where homes are along Evergreen Court and Greenwood Court.
• The council tabled action on an ordinance to address parking RVs and equipment in yards. Mayor Phil Mize urged the council to do more research before taking action, and to drive around town to get a better feel for the situation.
“Until we read it (the proposed ordinance) and all understand, there’s no need to take action,” he said.
City administrator Danielle Young said staff went through dozens of ordinances. One question the council will have to answer is whether it wants RVs just out of yards, or out of driveways too. Young said ordinances in other cities vary widely.
City attorney Austin Parker noted that Augusta dealt with this problem a few years ago. He said many homes in the old part of Augusta had no driveways at all. Council members will need to consider how any changes might impact small trailers and boats, as well.
Mize noted that many Cheney homeowners have boats, given the city’s proximity to Cheney State Park.
The topic will be on the February agenda.
• Maintenance employee and firefighter Jerry Peitz said the relationship with the Sedgwick County paramedics now stationed in Cheney is going well. He said they have been willing to help out in the community, beyond medical calls.
“They are very willing to jump in and help,” he said. “We haven’t had any problems with them.”
The county has removed the ambulance that was located at the Sedgwick County Fire Station near Lake Afton. Instead, the county now has rapid response vehicles in both Cheney and Clearwater. That allows a paramedic to be on scene quickly, but ambulances are now being dispatched primarily out of Goddard, or from Haysville for calls in the Clearwater area.