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Salina Technical College
Santa Stash 2017

Smoky Hill River Renewal Project Survey Results Released

KSAL Staff - August 11, 2017 3:30 pm

Survey results from the design charrette held July 17 – 20 for the area of the Smoky Hill River Renewal Project from Iron Avenue, south to the YMCA have been released.

According to the City of Salina, 293 people responded to the survey, which asked respondents to provide their preferences on the concepts and features presented at the public meeting held Thursday, July 20. Survey results are available online at www.salina-ks.gov/riverrenewal.

A design charrette that focuses on channel improvements north of Iron Ave and south and east of the YMCA will be held the last week of September. A public meeting will be held Thursday, September 28, 2017 to review concept ideas for these areas.

History of the Project

In December 2009, the City Commission authorized Design Studios West, Inc. and Wright Water Engineers, Inc. to complete the Phase 2 Old River Channel Master Plan. The Old Smoky Hill Channel winds 6.8 miles through the City and was isolated in the 1960s by construction of a flood control levee and bypass channel. The original river alignment (old channel) has no sustained base flow of water and has accumulated sediment and urban debris. The old channel continues to receive stormwater flows from approximately 75 storm sewer outfalls. The purpose of the Master Plan is to identify appropriate planning, design, and preliminary engineering responses to specific opportunities associated with the restoration and redevelopment of the old river channel of the Smoky Hill River.

Community meetings were held to allow the public to offer opinions and ideas on how the Master Plan could best address a variety of public and private improvements. The Master Plan identifies improvements, locations, general costs, potential funding sources, recommended phasing, and operation and maintenance costs. A Technical Advisory Committee and Master Plan Advisory Committee were formed to provide input to the consultants, with the Technical Advisory Committee providing oversight on the technical regulations and policies related to the Master Plan project area, and the Master Plan Advisory Committee providing oversight to ensure consistency in direction so that community desires were considered and reflected.

In August 2010, the City Commission accepted the Smoky Hill River Renewal Master Plan. For more information, visit www.smokyhillriver.org. In May 2016, voters approved a sales tax increase from 8.40% to 8.75% that will be in place over 20 years. A portion of these sales tax funds will be used for Smoky Hill River Renewal projects and will allow restoration efforts to move forward. In 2019, when the annual debt service for Kenwood Cove ($1.35 million) is retired, those sales tax funds will be allocated to the Smoky Hill River Renewal Project. At $1.35 million per year for 20 years, a total of $27 million would be generated.

Current Status of the Project

The City has obtained a water right to divert a portion of the Smoky Hill River base flows into the old channel. However, due to sedimentation and undersized culverts, a restoration effort is needed before water will move through the system as it historically did. In addition to restoring the base flow, an Urban River Walk is desired for a portion of the channel near downtown that will consist of public amenities and water taxies. HDR was hired in the spring of 2017 to develop preliminary design of in-channel features and the greenway trail shown in the Master Plan. Additionally, HDR will be working with the City and public to obtain input on areas within the Master Plan that require refinement due to existing or changed conditions and budget constraints.

Public meetings, surveys, design charrettes, and a Steering Committee will provide citizens with multiple opportunities for engagement and input. The City of Salina is committed to transparency. All project information will be housed on this page of the City’s website.

For more information visit www.smokyhillriver.org.

Specific questions regarding the project should be directed to Martha Tasker, City of Salina Utilities Director, by emailing martha.tasker@salina.org or calling (785)309-5725.

Rande AndTracy Repp

August 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm

When the sales tax increase was presented for public vote, it said the funds would be used…”Improving neighborhood streets and drainage $10m; Preserving a stable property tax rate $4.9m; Ensuring a quality park system $8.8m; Constructing and maintaining community improvements $0.95m; Funding equipment for maintenance $0.88m; Repayment of future bonds for large projects $1.3m; and Attracting quality jobs $3.5m.” Note that it never mentioned a river project. The propaganda sheet also promised a 7 year estimate of $34.2m generated. This article indicates the city wants to spend an additional $27m on this which was never authorized by the voters! If we are to spend this much money it should be spent responsibly, which means a clearly worded vote which passes at a regular ballot election. The only way mistrust of government can be overcome is when government is open and forthcoming.

Yancy Trostle

August 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm

I am a life long resident of saline county, Been here over 50 years. Our City needs to listen to the people. This was voted down twice. Funds allocated for the work was piggy backed in on a road and parks tax to keep up what we have NOT just for the River Project. The tax on the water park was for that, NOT the River Project! Salina we are going to tax our self to deep to live in this town if we are not careful. Our City officials need to follow what the people vote for. Instead the keep pushing it and throwing money into it till the people give up and give in to groups with special agenda.

Mary Laflamme

August 12, 2017 at 12:36 pm

This river project is the dumbest idea. This city needs that money used on more important things such as education, jobs, street repairs, bridge repairs, a better jail system and I could mention more things but I think this gets my idea across.

Bob Brooks

August 12, 2017 at 1:49 pm

The Elite and Higher Ups of this city do not care about the average citizen. They ram their pet projects down our throats. They will not read or respond to comments that are against there projects.

Tim Drake

August 12, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Ehhh judging by the comments it’s a tale between 2 cities, no pun intended.

Lisa Carter

August 13, 2017 at 8:52 am

I am absolutely for the smoky hill river to be developed; but, the money is needed elsewhere. We did not vote to fund the river project. Perhaps, the $31k wall rebuild the City Commissioners approved as being the “neighborly thing to do” should be used for the river development instead? (Reference SJ 6/13/17 Neighbor’s section).

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City of Salina