Sarpy to study unified trail system, parks
Concern about disconnected trails through Sarpy County housing developments is leading the county to study how a unified trail system might be created.
Sarpy County Public Works Director Dennis Wilson advocated the $30,000 study, saying some developments already have trails that do not connect to a larger network.
The study also could identify large tracts of land that could serve as major city parks. Wilson said the county could purchase the rural land at today's prices rather than the higher prices that probably would apply once cities encroach.
“The county needs to get more aggressive about parks,” said Sarpy County Board member Jim Warren, who represents western Sarpy County. “My fear is that from 144th out now to 204th, we've got a corridor that has absolutely zero parks and is becoming very heavily populated.”
Landscape architecture and design company Vireo will conduct the study's first phase and coordinate with Sarpy County's five cities.
The County Board voted 5-0 to approve the study, although board member Tom Richards, who represents Bellevue, is skeptical about the county developing a parks system.
Bellevue still pursuing development funding
The City of Bellevue will look elsewhere for money to develop land south of the city after voters rejected a half-cent sales tax increase, Mayor Rita Sanders says.
“We've got to put infrastructure down there,” she said. “We're going to have to sit down and see if we can find somewhere to cut. The problem is no one wants to cut anything.”
A 300-acre area south of Offutt Air Force Base and east of Highway 75 will become prime development land after a new Missouri River bridge opens in 2014. The area currently lacks critical infrastructure such as sewer lines and water.
The ballot proposal would have increased Bellevue's sales tax from 1.5 percent to 2 percent, directing revenue to install infrastructure and other economic development activities.
Toby Churchill, executive director of the Sarpy County Economic Development Corp., said the vote will make it more difficult to attract new jobs to southeast Bellevue.
“Believe me, we've looked under every rock that you could to find financing,” he said.
Sanders said the city will try to appeal to voters again, probably on the 2014 primary election ballot. Another possibility, she said, is asking developers to install the infrastructure themselves and reimbursing them through tax increment financing.
It is not the ideal approach, she said. Typically, she said, companies expect infrastructure to be in place already and will look elsewhere if it is not.
Ralston council says 'no' to backyard hens
Ralston will not allow backyard chickens after a proposal was defeated by the Ralston City Council. The ordinance would have allowed residents to raise up to four hens for egg production.
The proposed ordinance resembled similar measures introduced in Bellevue and Papillion. The Bellevue City Council voted to allow hens. Papillion voted its measure down.
Omaha allows the raising of chickens.
Councilman Rich Onken said allowing hens would not fit with Ralston's new economic development vision as it opens a new arena.
“It does nothing to contribute to our image as a cosmopolitan city,” he said. “We spent millions to build an arena, and now we're going to let this happen?”
Mayor rewarded with raise for arena work
Ralston Mayor Don Groesser will receive a pay raise after a unanimous City Council vote.
Due in large part to his work creating the Ralston Arena, Groesser will see his annual salary jump from $15,000 to $24,000.
Councilman Jerry Krause proposed the raise, saying the mayor was entitled to an increase because of his hard work and willingness to undertake many responsibilities of a city administrator.
The raise won't be applicable to future Ralston mayors. The ordinance sunsets on Dec. 6, 2016, when Groesser is expected to leave office after his fifth term.
Springfield council will get $100 monthly raise
The Springfield City Council approved a pay raise for council members.
The $100-per-month raise came down to a 2-2 tie vote. The two councilmen up for re-election voted against the raise, which will increase the monthly stipend from $200 per month to $300 per month.
Mayor Mike Dill broke the tie in favor, saying it might encourage residents to get involved.
Papillion park gets Blue Star marker
Papillion has unveiled a Blue Star Memorial Marker at Triangle Park. The marker, a black metal sign emblazoned with a blue star and gold letters, serves as a tribute to “the Armed Forces that have defended the United States of America.”
The Blue Star Memorial Marker Program was created in 1945 by National Garden Clubs Inc.
Connie Leversee said she got the idea last year for a Papillion marker, which cost about $3,800. The City of Papillion agreed to pay half, including the landscaping and sidewalk.
This and that around the metro area:
» A controlled archery deer hunt has been scheduled at Jewell Park for three weekends: Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9.
Bellevue Police Sgt. Dave Rech said the park will be closed during those six days to all people except those authorized to take part. Three hunters are scheduled to be in the park each hunting day.
» The Sarpy County Sheriff's Office received a $3,607 state grant for “Click It or Ticket” enforcement during Thanksgiving week. Deputies working extra shifts will enforce seat belt, child restraint and traffic violations.
— World-Herald News Service