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Archive for Friday, October 27, 2006

Fuel, concrete costs likely to boost price of planned lake in S.W. Kansas

October 27, 2006

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— A long-awaited lake and recreational park planned for southwest Kansas now appear likely to cost more than expected, a project official said.

Voters in four counties approved a 0.15 percent sales tax earlier this year to help finance the 450-acre Horse Thief Reservoir and a surrounding 1,100-acre park along Kansas 156, eight miles west of Jetmore.

The tax is expected to raise $9.8 million toward a total originally estimated at $15.3 million.

But rising prices for fuel, concrete and asphalt, combined with discoveries about the soil, have made designing the project more costly, said Ron Allen, manager of the Pawnee Watershed District.

"We've gotten a triple-whammy," Allen said. "The price of fuel is (mostly) going to drive the costs ... some of the techniques will be a little bit more expensive."

Just how much more expensive is unknown, Allen said. A clearer picture is expected to emerge Nov. 20 when the project manager and engineer meet with other parties involved in the enterprise, he said.

"It will be the most updated engineers' estimate," Allen said.

Project officials have applied for $4.5 million in state funding to help cover costs, and have received almost $2.1 million so far, Allen said.

The officials also are studying other possible funding sources if the tax revenue and state money fall short of the total cost.

"We're looking at some other options," Allen said.

Plans call for a 6,000-foot-long dam to be built along Buckner Creek. The park's opening could coincide with the dam's completion, but the lake probably won't fill up until 2012 or 2013.

The project is expected to be the largest body of water in southwest Kansas, making it an oasis for residents who drive for hours to the nearest lake.

Because the engineering and design work have taken longer than initially expected, construction now appears unlikely to start in early 2007 as originally planned. But Allen said the dam still could be completed by late 2008 as hoped.

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