Blog Archives

Project Spotlight: City of Blue Rapids Enhances Summer Recreation Opportunities

The City of Blue Rapids swimming pool project was completed earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Tom Parker)

A recently completed project in the City of Blue Rapids is making a splash this summer.

The project was made possible, in part, through a special round of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding awarded in 2019. The grant award was $763,411. The Small Cities CDBG program is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The city also contributed more than $580,000 through general obligation bonds and local fundraising efforts.

The project included demolition of the existing swimming pool and construction of an accessible, zero entry swimming pool. The newly constructed pool opened on May 25 with 200 people attending the opening ceremony. The pool closed a month early last summer to begin project demolition and construction.

“The best part of the project is that people are really glad to be able to come to a clean pool and a fun environment,” Blue Rapids City Clerk Chrystal Busey said.

The original facility was built in the early 1950s and repairs had become increasingly burdensome for the community. Local fundraising efforts had been underway for a number of years to update the swimming pool.

“Blue Rapids was presented with a unique opportunity when Kansas Department of Commerce announced this special round of funding,” NCRPC Executive Director Emily Benedick said. “The community had already been working toward updating its pool and that commitment helped pave the way for a successful application.”

The resulting project has enhanced summer recreation opportunities for residents and visitors to the community. The swimming pool is located in Blue Rapids’ City Park located at one of the main entry points into the city along KS HWY 9/US HWY 77. It is also adjacent to the Marshall County Fairgrounds and baseball fields and playgrounds.

On its own, the city also financed a bath house separate from the swimming pool project.

Key partners involved with the project included project engineers CES Group of Marysville and Trinium Contractors, Inc of Manhattan. NCRPC staff provided project planning assistance, grant writing and administration.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. Project Spotlight shares stories from communities around the region and how they solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the July 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: City of Frankfort Completes Project to Improve Truck Route

frankfort truck route project spotlight

The City of Frankfort completed a project in Fall 2020 that improved one of its existing truck routes. The project was funded through a combination of a CDBG grant and a USDA Rural Development loan. (Photo courtesy of Frankfort Area News)

What had been one of the roughest streets to travel in the City of Frankfort is now one of the smoothest after the city completed a major project to improve an existing truck route.

Highways 9 and 99 intersect in the heart of Frankfort’s downtown district. Having two state highways running through town, the city sees a tremendous amount of truck traffic. An east truck route was previously updated and already approved by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) as an official truck route. The city’s truck route on the west side of downtown was another story.

“The street had tons of pot holes and we couldn’t keep it repaired enough for trucks or even local traffic to use,” Frankfort City Clerk Melody Tommer said. “We wanted it to be an approved KDOT truck route and it is in the process of getting approval from them now.”

The city believes its efforts to improve the route will ultimately help preserve the roads downtown from the wear of heavy truck traffic and decrease congestion in the downtown area.

A 2019 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) award of $265,656 helped make this street project possible. Funding for the project came in the Community Facilities category of the Annual Competitive Grants offered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. In addition, the city put in an equal amount of funds it secured through a USDA Rural Development loan.

The resulting project upgraded the existing highly trafficked west truck route to concrete pavement. Corresponding storm sewer, sidewalks and curb and gutter improvements were also made. The truck route reopened in September 2020. According to the city, the benefits of completing the project have been noticeable.

“It has been a huge improvement,” Tommer said. “Some water and sewer lines were also replaced, along with storm sewer improvements. Trucks and heavy equipment are using it more and more and therefore saving our downtown streets from all the wear and tear.”

Key partners involved with the project included Inline Construction and project engineers CES Group, Inc., both of Marysville. NCRPC staff provided project planning assistance, grant writing and administration.

For more information about the funding sources used for this project or to discuss a project need, contact the NCRPC community development staff.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. Project Spotlight shares stories from communities around the region and how they solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the May 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: City of Tipton Solves Drainage Issues

image from City of Tipton, KS drainage system improvement project

A recent project in the City of Tipton improved the city’s storm drainage system.

Perseverance paid off for the City of Tipton. When the first attempt to secure project funding for a storm drainage system improvement project was denied, the city council went back to the drawing board and narrowed the scope of work. Those efforts were rewarded with funding from the Kansas Department of Commerce Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in the community facilities category. The 2019 award of $101,665 was matched with an equal amount from the city.

The resulting project improved the city’s storm drainage system by installing new culvert pipes, a portion of enclosed storm sewer, area inlets, ditch grading and minor street repairs. It was completed in Fall 2020.

Residents and visitors alike have noticed and appreciated the changes. Prior to the project, there were significant problems with erosion, silting, drainage, standing water and mowing. This project eliminated those issues and solved a problem that had been on the city’s radar for many years.

“When I started on the city council in 1993, one of the first requests I received was to do something about the ditch on Main Street,” Tipton City Clerk Joanne Brummer said.

image from City of Tipton, KS drainage system improvement project

The addition of area inlets on Main Street help collect the water coming off of the road.

According to city council members, the project benefits have been numerous. The overall appearance has improved, the system is easier to maintain, safety issues with the deep ditches were resolved, and there is also potential for growth with improved access to empty lots.

Jessica Krier, a member of the Tipton City Council, is a homeowner on south Main Street adjacent to the recent project.

“We have been very pleased with the results of the recent drainage project in Tipton,” Krier said. “Since moving in to this home, I have stressed about the water collecting in the ditch with younger children. Thankfully, this project has not only upgraded the appearance of our home, but it has also greatly improved the safety of our yard for my family.”

Key partners involved with the project included Ron Schlaefli Construction and project engineers Schwab Eaton. NCRPC staff provided project planning assistance, grant writing and administration.

The City of Tipton, a small community located in the southwest corner of Mitchell County, is no stranger to improvement projects.

“Tipton’s citizens demonstrate a great deal of pride and commitment to solving problems and continually improving their community,” NCRPC Community Development Representative Amanda Horn said.

The Tipton City Council says they have been fortunate to receive a number of grants over the years to help fund various projects.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. Project Spotlight shares stories from communities around the region and how they solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the March 2021 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: City of Hope Improves Water Distribution System

Image of City of Hope water tower

A project to improve the water distribution system in the southern Dickinson County City of Hope was completed earlier this year. New waterlines were installed and the water tower was painted and repaired.

Having a safe and dependable water system is necessary for any community. The City of Hope recently completed a project to improve its water distribution system that will benefit current and future residents for many years.

Like many rural communities across Kansas, the City of Hope was faced with an aging water distribution system. The original system in Hope was made up of cast iron pipe that was installed in 1916. Improvements had been made over the years as needed. However, maintenance was becoming increasingly difficult and expensive due to the age and condition of the system. Line breaks were frequent and water loss high.

Recognizing the substantial cost involved with replacing the existing cast iron water mains, the city explored possibilities for funding assistance. In 2018, the city was awarded a $600,000 grant through the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). The CDBG program is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The city also provided a substantial project match of nearly $1.2 million, which it secured through a USDA Rural Development loan.

The project included the installation of approximately 23,200 lineal feet of new PVC water mains, 5,600 lineal feet of water service lines, as well as new valves, fire hydrants, and an updated metering system. Water tower painting and upgrades were also completed.

NCRPC staff provided project planning assistance and administration. Other key partners involved with the project include general contractor J & K Construction LLC and project engineer BG Consultants, Inc.

Since project completion earlier this year, the city has experienced lower water loss and fewer issues. “It has been a positive change and it was way overdue,” Mayor Larry Ryff said. “The community seems very thankful and happy that there has been less interruptions with the new system.”

Ryff has advice for other communities considering options for their own water improvement projects. “You definitely need determination and patience with the process,” Ryff said. “Infrastructure is a very important component to any community.”

For more information about the funding sources used for this project or to discuss a project funding need, contact the NCRPC Community Development staff.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. The Project Spotlight series features projects around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the November 2020 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: Ellsworth Housing

Multiple Programs Involved with Improvements to Ellsworth Home

Multiple programs were involved in the recent improvements to this Ellsworth home. (Courtesy Photo)

When Elizabeth George purchased her Ellsworth home, the list of needed improvements was long. Fortunately for her, the timing was perfect to participate in the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) housing rehabilitation project.

The City of Ellsworth was awarded funds for a CDBG housing project in 2018. The CDBG program is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce.

George also participated in the First Time Home Buyer Program and received Weatherization Assistance. Both programs are administered by the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation.

“The George home really showcases what can be achieved when multiple programs are involved,” NCRPC Housing Director Carol Torkelson said.

North Central Regional Planning Commission completed the inspection for the First Time Home Buyer program and administered the CDBG project for the City of Ellsworth. It also operates the Weatherization Assistance Program in a 41-county service area—including Ellsworth County.

“The timing of all three programs worked out really well,” Torkelson said. “Running the Weatherization Assistance program along with the city’s CDBG Housing Rehabilitation project also helped maximize the use of funds for both programs and helped get a home up to the state standards.”

The City of Ellsworth was awarded a previous CDBG housing rehabilitation project in 2014 and understood the potential benefits for its citizens.

“A lot of times, citizens have full intentions and desire to update or fix problems with their homes, but it is just not financially feasible,” Ellsworth Mayor Mark Kennedy said. “For a small financial commitment from the city, we can see tangible evidence of benefit in an area of need.”

The majority of the work done on the George home included replacing windows, replacing exterior doors as needed, and various insulation measures to improve energy efficiency. The improvements have helped lower George’s utility bills while increasing her peace of mind and pride in her home.

“I feel as a resident of a community that has taken part in the CDBG program, it has only improved our community,” George said. “It is a great thing to see neighborhoods come back to life and know that you had a part in it.”

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. The Project Spotlight series features projects around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the July 2020 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: Historic Salina Depot Restored

restored depot

NCRPC administered a CDBG Commercial Rehabilitation project that helped restore a former depot located at 356 N. Santa Fe in Salina.

A historic Missouri Pacific Depot in downtown Salina has been restored. The unique limestone building, which had been vacant for several years, now functions as professional office space.

The former depot was originally constructed in 1887 and had not had a significant upgrade in over 50 years. Salina Office Station, LLC purchased the building in 2017 with the intent of updating it for office space.

The restoration was the result of many partners working together. The City of Salina received a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Kansas Department of Commerce for the Downtown Commercial Rehabilitation Project. The building’s owners, Salina Office Station, LLC, provided more than $110,000 in matching funds to make needed repairs to the building. NCRPC staff provided project planning assistance and administration.

“This project was able to bring an empty historic building in the downtown area back to life,” NCRPC Community Development Specialist Nichole McDaniel said. “It is an example of a successful project with multiple partners.”

The purpose of the CDBG Commercial Rehabilitation Program is to help cities improve the quality of their downtown commercial districts by assisting private property owners in the rehabilitation of blighted buildings.

“As owners of the former Salina MOPAC freight depot, we were fortunate to qualify for participation in the CDBG Commercial Rehabilitation program as administered by the NCRPC,” Ken Bieberly, one of three owners of Salina Office Station, LLC, said. “The grant provided funds for the remodeling that made the project economically feasible and historically correct.”

The project included upgrading and preserving the historic exterior and meeting ADA interior compliance requirements. The newly renovated former depot, now named Salina Office Station, includes four professional office rental spaces.

Other key partners involved with the project include general contractor Ry-Co Inc. and project architect Warren Ediger.

There is an open window for communities to submit applications for the CDBG Downtown Commercial Rehabilitation program each year. For more information, visit www.kansascommerce.gov/cdbg or contact the NCRPC office to visit with a staff member about your project needs.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. The Project Spotlight series features projects around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the January 2020 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: Mankato Housing

Photo of downtown Mankato apartment

Renovation of four loft apartments in downtown Mankato was included in one of the city’s recent housing projects.

Long-time City of Mankato Mayor Don Koester credits a strategic planning meeting 16 years ago with helping the community chart a course to address its housing needs.

“We asked the community what needed to be done,” Koester said. “As a council, we took the ideas and tried to prioritize the biggest needs.”

That meeting was in his first year as mayor and he continues to serve in that role. Housing was among the list of priorities identified.

The community received a boost when it was awarded funds in 2005 through the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The funding was part of a Comprehensive Development project that included construction of a new multi-purpose community building, park and street improvements, and housing demolition and rehabilitation. The Comprehensive Development Program is no longer offered.

“The housing in that first project was targeted right around the community center,” Koester said. “It made a small area so you could see a big impact. It was very successful.”

The city has since received funding for two additional housing rehabilitation projects through the CDBG Program. In total, the projects have helped rehabilitate 28 homes and demolish 18 dilapidated units.

“Our work is not complete with housing, but it is certainly going in the right direction,” Koester said. “If you can rehabilitate a house and stop it from going downhill, you keep it a viable housing unit for your community. You can stop that cycle of decline.”

The city is now in the process of deciding next steps to address some infrastructure needs.

“Infrastructure goes together with housing,” Koester said. “We are trying to look at things at a big scale for more years knowing that we will enhance what is there (housing) by what we do next.”

NCRPC Housing Director Carol Torkelson has administered all three housing projects in Mankato and credits the community for putting in the work to address housing.

“The City of Mankato committed to saving the existing housing stock and removing dilapidated structures,” Torkelson said. “It is something they could bring to their citizens at minimal cost to the city.”

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. The Project Spotlight series features projects around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the September 2019 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: Waterville Drainage

The City of Waterville, a town of approximately 680 people located in Marshall County, was awarded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to make drainage improvements throughout the city. Although drainage systems are often overlooked by residents and visitors to a community, problems occur when these systems fail.

The recent drainage improvement project in the City of Waterville included this intersection near the historic Waterville Opera House.

The 2017 award of $199,788 came from the Kansas Department of Commerce Small Cities CDBG Program in the Community Facilities category.  The city provided an equal amount in matching funds through City cash. NCRPC Assistant Director Emily Benedick administered the project.

“Utilizing the CDBG funding, as well as local City cash, Waterville made noticeable improvements to their city’s drainage system throughout town,” Benedick said.

The project consisted of replacing 3,420 linear feet of concrete curb and gutter, installing or replacing 10 inlets, installing 2 manholes, installing a flume grate, 18 linear feet of concrete flume and 10 linear feet of trench drain, and installing 413 linear feet of storm sewer. Also included was the installation of 21 ADA concrete curb ramps and 160 square yards of concrete sidewalk. Additional concrete work included replacement of 215 square yards of driveways connected to the curb & gutter and 1,272 square yards of concrete patching to transition between the new curb and the existing street.

Installing or replacing 10 storm inlets were one part of Waterville’s drainage project.

In the planning process, the city’s governing body and staff worked to review areas of need and prioritize those based on their location and impact to citizens and city maintenance programs. Completion of this project addressed the most problematic areas throughout the city’s drainage system.

“The most noticeable change by far is cosmetically speaking,” Waterville Mayor Josh Stoudt said. “The curbs and guttering look great. I would definitely recommend this program and hope to utilize it again in the future for Waterville.”

For more information about the CDBG Program, visit  www.kansascommerce.gov/cdbg or contact the NCRPC Community Development staff.

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas. The Project Spotlight series features projects around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the May 2019 NCRPC Newsletter.

 



Project Spotlight: Lincoln Power Plant

A new generator has improved the reliability of the power supply in the City of Lincoln Center.

A basic need of any community is to have steady, reliable electricity. Residents, businesses and visitors all expect and rely upon having electrical power 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

When the City of Lincoln Center was faced with continued problems on its rebuilt electrical power generating engine, the Enterprise, the city knew replacement was the best long-term solution.

The community applied for and was awarded funds from the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce to assist with the cost of the electrical generation upgrade project. The project used approximately $346,000 in CDBG funds. The city contributed nearly $442,000 in City cash and the issuance of bonds.

The older failing engine was replaced with a newer, more reliable engine that will continue to serve the community for many decades.

According to City of Lincoln Power Plant Foreman Jeff Ahring, it was necessary for the city to upgrade the generator. “Prior to the project, in the event that one of our other generators should malfunction, we would not have been able to provide the entire community with enough power to the grid, and as a result, we would have to initiate a “rolling blackout” until the issue was repaired,” Ahring said. “With the addition of the generator this project provided, we are able to provide the power required.”

Now if an incoming utility fails to provide power to the community, the power plant can restore power to the community in a matter of minutes. Ahring also noted the newer engine is a Tier 2, meaning fewer emissions while the engine is producing energy.

NCRPC Community Development Representative Nichole McDaniel administered the project in Lincoln. “The City of Lincoln has been great to work with on this as well as past improvement projects,” McDaniel said. “The recent power plant project has been able to provide the city with confidence that they can provide reliable power to their community.”

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas communities. Periodically we plan to feature projects from around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the November 2018 NCRPC Newsletter.



Project Spotlight: Miltonvale Park

Tootleville Park is an important part of the City of Miltonvale.

A park is a vital part of many communities. Miltonvale, a town of just over 500 people located south of U.S. Hwy 24, has made many park improvements over the years. Those efforts received a boost when the community was awarded Kansas Department of Commerce Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds under the 2015 Special Round category.

The $350,000 award, coupled with more than $35,500 in local contributions, allowed the city to complete a major park improvement project. This, however, was not the first time the community invested in its park. Approximately 10 years ago volunteers built the “Tootleville Playground” area with the help of more than $100,000 in donated funds. A disc golf course came later. It has become a top course in Kansas with an annual tournament. The city has also renovated a Works Progress Administration (WPA) fountain and added a RV Park using foundation and other local funding sources. The CDBG project helped the city replace band shell seating, construct accessible walkways, construct a veteran’s memorial, improve drainage, install fencing for an existing volleyball court, and construct a picnic shelter and a parking area.

According to NCRPC Assistant Director Emily Benedick, Miltonvale’s approach to solve a community need is still relevant even though the CDBG Special Round of funding no longer exists.

“They may be a small rural community, but they find ways to continuously make improvements throughout the city in order to ensure the best quality of life possible for their residents,” Benedick said. “When cities are able to prove that they can help themselves with or without grant funding, it only improves their chances of receiving grant funds.”

According to Miltonvale City Clerk Darla Bebber, the park is a hub of community activity. This summer it is the location of three free movies and a farmer’s market. It is also popular for weddings, photography, disc golf tournaments, festivals, and RV Park.

“The community is proud of the park and utilizes it extensively as well as out of town visitors,” Bebber said.

Miltonvale is home to a long list of WPA structures, many of which are located in the park. The city plans to continue its park improvements.

“On the horizon we hope to renovate the scout cabin and grill and clean up the creek wall area (all WPA structures). It’s all a part of our history and the hard working people that made this park come to life,” Bebber said. “We are also working on markers that will give the history of the park, Miltonvale and the WPA projects.”

There are many great things happening in North Central Kansas communities. Periodically we plan to feature projects from around the region to share ways communities have solved challenges. To view more Project Spotlights, visit https://www.ncrpc.org/tag/project-spotlight/.

This article appeared in the July 2018 NCRPC Newsletter.

 



Archives

Lead-Safe Work Practices Training in April


Become Lead-Safe Certified by attending the Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP)/Lead-Safe Work Practices Training on April 4 in Hays or April 5 in Beloit. Any contractor, from plumbers to electricians to painters, who disturbs lead paint while working in a pre-1978 home, school or day care center, must be Lead-Safe Certified.

Training is being offered in two convenient locations:
April 4, 2017
Hays Recreation Commission
1105 Canterbury Drive
Hays, KS

April 5, 2017
NCRPC Main Office
109 N. Mill St.
Beloit, KS

There is no cost for the training if a contractor is willing to work with any of the NCRPC housing programs. RSVP by March 31, 2017 to Carol Torkelson at ctorkelson@nckcn.com or Amanda Peterson at apeterson@nckcn.com or by calling 1-800-432-0303.

Click here for more information.