Greensburg As Greensburg rebuilds from a tornado last spring, city officials are envisioning a greener, more efficient town.
With 200 new homes being built, City Administrator Steve Hewitt is urging residents to support improved city infrastructure and more environmentally friendly structures in the southwestern Kansas town.
Greensburg leaders spoke to residents at a community meeting Thursday, updating them on the progress made rebuilding the town almost wiped out by the May 4 tornado. Kansas City, Mo.-based BNIM Architects, hired by Greensburg to design the city's master plan, presented its work.
Hewitt said Greensburg could become a model city for the country. "We truly do have opportunities, and we must embrace those opportunities," Hewitt said. "This community's coming back."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency pays 75 percent for projects to bring infrastructure back to what it was before the tornado, but the city wants to be bigger, better and more progressive, Hewitt said.
"We're not going to build it the way it was before," he said.
Hewitt said the city already plans to build a bigger water tower, because the one damaged held only 55,000 gallons and didn't serve the needs of the fire department.
The tower is one of 75 city projects.
BNIM's plan includes a conceptual design scheme for downtown, streetscape design guidelines for signature streets, such as Main Street and U.S. 54, and a comprehensive land use guide.
Darin Headrick, superintendent of the city's schools, said about 74 percent of the district's population is back to school in Greensburg. But it's crucial to get housing for Greensburg's families so children can return to the district, he said.
Now housed in trailers, classrooms will be rebuilt to have state-of-the-art technology, Headrick said.
"One thing we're really doing is making sure we design these classrooms from the inside out. We want to make sure each individual learner" has the best environment, he said.
Residents at the meeting later broke into small groups to discuss their ideas for Greensburg's future.
Longtime resident Steve Kirk, living temporarily in Dodge City, plans to return.
"I got my first bid in the mail today," he said of the new house he plans to build.
Kirk likes the idea of building green.
As for the future, he said, "I would like to see it be a town bigger than it was before with new businesses coming in and people continuing to be excited about it."