Archive for Tuesday, January 20, 2009

City to discuss future of Baldwin Woods

Commissioners will discuss what to do with the 250-acre forest.

January 20, 2009


The future of a unique piece of Douglas County landscape will be up for discussion at tonight’s City Commission meeting.

Commissioners are being asked to give feedback on a proposal to preserve a 256-acre tract of forest land that is part of an area known as the Baldwin Woods.

Members of the county’s ECO2 committee are looking for funding from city and county commissions to purchase a conservation easement that would ensure the native timberland is never the site of development.

But the price tag may prove difficult for city commissioners to swallow. It is estimated that it would cost about $450,000 to purchase a conservation easement from the private owners of the property, which is between Lawrence and Baldwin City.

“It is a beautiful piece of property, but we don’t have any money for it in the budget,” City Manager David Corliss has said.

But leaders of the ECO2 group — which was formed to promote business park development and the preservation of open space — are hoping commissioners will keep an open mind.

“My hope is that at a very minimum that city and county officials would sit down with the property owners and see if there is anything creative that can be done to get this project done,” said Larry McElwain, chairman of the ECO2 committee. “We would hope there would at least be some discussion.”

The property currently is owned by area residents Ray Wilbur and Cathy Dwigans.

Commissioners also will be discussing changes to the overall ECO2 plan that was adopted two years ago. The committee is asking the city and county to approve several changes in the factors the committee uses to determine whether a piece of property is suitable for industrial development.

In the approved version of the plan, property that is close to Interstate 70 is given a higher transportation score than property near Kansas Highway 10, U.S. Highway 59 or other major highways. The proposed changes would treat property that is along a divided state and federal highway equally from a transportation standpoint.

“I think this will give us more opportunity to fairly look at sites throughout the county,” McElwain said.

The changes potentially could change the score the vacant Farmland Industries property receives from the ECO2 commission. When the Farmland property — which is along Kansas Highway 10 — was previously scored it ranked the near the bottom of potential industrial sites in the county.

But the site of the former fertilizer plant has drawn strong interest from community leaders as a site that could be converted into a state-of-the-art business park.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. today at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


invictus 5 years, 2 months ago

My back yard is great! Carbon is stored in a big pine tree and in the grass. It has an abundance of rabbits and squirrels. I promise not to develop it for Mcdonald's extra value meal. I am making a point that this is just elitist nonsense. It is not enough that this family owns an awesome 256 acres of forest; they want public money to “preserve it”.


Reality_Check 5 years, 2 months ago

"$450,000 to purchase a conservation easement from the private owners"Seems steep...we don't get the land, they just agree not to develop it. How about the owners just do the right thing and do it for $1? If they structure it right, they could get a tax deduction, too. Invictus: What's your backyard like? How is it unique? What sort of unique wildlife habitat does it offer? Yes, the Baldwin Woods are special that land trusts and the Nature Conservancy may be interested in funding them. Private funding is the way to go here.


invictus 5 years, 2 months ago

How much can I get paid to not develop my back yard?


XD40 5 years, 2 months ago

If this is such a pristine piece of property, why don't they approach an organization like the Nature Conservancy for funds? If that doesn't work, why not a private fund raising effort?Just keep your hands out of my pocket! The city/county needs to be cutting spending. And cutting spending aggressively!


jrlii 5 years, 2 months ago

Another factor needs to be looked at for industrial development: Is the site in a flood plain? The current plan seems to favor industrial development in sites which will be inundated in event of a levy breech.


4chewnut 5 years, 2 months ago

And Jones is good friends with the property owners I understand!


macon47 5 years, 2 months ago

hey it is just moneypass a sales taxit will be for the greater goodthats what this world is all aboutplay like you are usd497and spend spend spend


Norma Jeane Baker 5 years, 2 months ago

We don't have the money! What part of that is hard to understand?


Eric Neuteboom 5 years, 2 months ago

Am I the only one who sees the ridiculous nature of their reasoning? For one, no information was given as to the intent - any intent - of the property owners to sell or develop the land. I am all for preservation, but if there is no imminent threat they can, and should, wait.I also think the "industrial development equation" logic is way out of balance. I can not see the benefit in simply changing the system to make FarmLand a more desirable site for development. It either is or isn't, but changing your scoring system to get a score more favorable to your desires completely corrupts the system. FarmLand should be evaluated in and of itself, regardless of some silly point system.


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