urlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad has announced plans for a second set of tracks to be placed through downtown Parkville, and their plans have prompted the city to respond by hiring a consultant to study the potential impact of more tracks.
At a meeting of the Parkville Board of Aldermen Tuesday night, an ordinance was passed 6-1 to authorize an agreement with Olsson Associates to employ their consulting services.
Olsson will survey the physical and environmental effects of placing a second rail line next to the previous one. This will include a detailed analysis with the city’s staff, traffic, fire, and police services. The number of trains which pass through Parkville will be studied, while the added rail traffic will be figured in the equation.
Patty Gentrup, a community consultant for Olsson, spoke of two successful instances where the company completed similar services in Lincoln, Neb.
“Our number one question is ‘how will this affect the land and the vitality of downtown,’” said Gentrup. “We will try to convene focus groups and keep the public involved as much as possible, because the people who live, work, and play in Parkville are the ones who know it best. Consolidating tracks can also be a public safety issue. We want to make sure all stake holders are involved. Railroads have been here a long time, and they’re here to stay because they are an effective way to move goods throughout our nation. We are determined to work with the city to find a solution.”
Coincidentally, a train could be heard in the distance as a verbal disagreement occurred between Alderman Brian Atkinson and David Rittman. Atkinson stated his concern that the money to pay for this consulting service with Olsson was unbudgeted and already coming from the reserve funds.
Atkinson said he needed a ‘ballpark figure’ before he could vote on the issue. Rittman replied with his opinion that these facts should be covered in the board’s private executive session in order not to give the railroad an unfair advantage.
These professional consulting services paid to Olsson will cost $16,417. At the city’s request, Olsson agreed to defer payment for its services until January 1, 2007. Because of this, the city agreed to pay a three percent carrying fee in return for this deferment, which makes the total fee rise to $16,909. Despite the cost and time needed for the analysis, Mayor Dusenbery continued to state “this project will not be a negative thing.”
In a related development this week, Parkville businessman/commercial developer Tom Hutsler took advantage of the opportunity to ask Gov. Matt Blunt (see related story on governor’s visit to Parkville) about the possibility of any state money being available to help relocate the Burlington Northern Sante Fe rail track that cuts through Parkville’s downtown.
Hutsler would like to see the tracks moved south of the English Landing development.
If eventually moving the tracks is seen as an option to all parties involved, which some see as a longshot, Hutsler was told such a project might qualify for Community Development Block Grant funds. Gov. Blunt quickly added the railroad would need to significantly contribute financially to the project.
“It would need to be a partnership,” Blunt said.