City accepts offer of $500,000 from Hospital to purchase land where city shop sits

The Sabetha City Commission met at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, at Sabetha City Hall. Present for the meeting were Mayor Cody Bletscher, Commissioners Norm Schmitt, Nick Aberle, Maridel Wittmer and Julie Burenheide, City Administrator Doug Allen, Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer, City Clerk Steve Compo, and City Attorney Luke Sunderland. Guests present were Leah Lukert, Emerson Montgomery, Gina Keim, Logan Snyder, Sarah Snyder, Lori Baumgartner, Maggi Kaeb, Jason Kaeb, Paul Kaeb, Alexa Kaufman, Jason Enneking, Jesse Mitchell, James Longabaugh, Dave Eisenbise, Shari Eisenbise, Austin Wasinger and Bayley Wasinger.

Hospital Project Update

Dr. James Longabaugh said the hospital board is continuing to tweak the design of the new hospital, in order to make it as cost efficient as possible, and they are still a few months behind other hospitals who are doing major renovations or construction.

“We’re kind of following their time frames along the way,” Dr. Longabaugh said. “The USDA is a little bit slow, and our final applications should be in the next six weeks.”

Then, Dr. Longabaugh extended an offer of $500,000 to the city commissioners, to purchase the land where the city shop currently sits — just south of Sabetha Community Hospital.

“The hospital board has authorized me to offer $500,000 for the land where the city shop sits,” Dr. Longabaugh said. “We think that we can do that from a Great Plains of Sabetha standpoint, so if you would be so inclined to sell that particular piece of land to us, we would like to have it.”

“How soon do you need it? How soon do we have to get out of there?” Burenheide said.

“We’re at the government’s mercy from a USDA standpoint,” Dr. Longabaugh said. “My perspective is no rush, so I think it’s probably going to be seven or eight months before we’re ready to put a shovel in the ground. I hope we can start putting up fences and start digging by early next summer or maybe even late spring.”

“I appreciate that you have come to us with money,” Burenheide said, “because it is going to cost quite a chunk [to move the city shop].”

“Of course, and the hospital board certainly recognizes that,” Dr. Longabaugh said.

“Just for clarification purposes, that is the land with a three to two vote from the commission that we already allowed the hospital to use and now the hospital has come back and said, ‘Okay, we have found $500,000 that we’re going to go ahead and bring back,’” Schmitt said.

“I appreciate that,” Burenheide said.

“We know that moving that shop was no small ask,” Dr. Longabaugh said.

Burenheide asked Allen and Shroyer if they had sites in mind to move the city shop to.

“Yes, we will probably bring that to you next week. We’ve got a pretty good plan and have it measured out,” Allen said.

After further discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to enter into a contract with Great Plains of Sabetha for them to purchase the land for $500,000.

Lifewise Academy

This picture shows the piece of land the Lifewise Academy is wanting to purchase from the City of Sabetha.

Multiple members of the Lifewise Academy board were present to ask the commissioners to sell a piece of land owned by the City of Sabetha.

“We’re asking for a location to offer classes to public school students and the location we asked about is prime, we feel like and we’re asking for your permission to consider that,” M. Kaeb said.

“Our request would be if we could talk about negotiating a price, if it would even be a possibility for us to purchase that section of ground,” P. Kaeb said.

The piece of land Lifewise Academy is requesting is located straight west of the tennis courts and straight east of Bluejay Boulevard on the north portion of the grass “island.” Lifewise Academy is asking to purchase 100 feet by 130 feet. See photo on Page 3.

“Doug, do you know if that area is zoned for anything special?” Bletscher said.

“It is all zoned residential, so schools and churches can fit in that,” Allen said.

Aberle asked about parking.

“We probably wouldn’t have parking on the west side,” P. Kaeb said. “The setbacks would get too tight, but we could add some parking spots on the north side of that. As you exit, there would be room for three or four more there. Otherwise, we could use the parking in front of it, on the east side. We probably wouldn’t be there much in the summer months or when there’s any tennis activities going on. More than likely, we wouldn’t even be using that regularly anyways.”

“Personally, I don’t think that would be big enough to build anything,” Wittmer said. “I was surprised they would even consider that, because it is a busy area.”

“I’m assuming that it is a small school house?” Bletscher said.

“Basically it is four classrooms, is what we’re looking at putting there. It’s really good enough to have 25-foot setbacks. Our building would be about 40 feet by 65 feet. We would do it well. We would not be putting up something just to get by. I feel like it would fit in there really nice. When someone first mentioned it, I thought it would be way too small too, until we went out and measured it and it actually fits very well there, without feeling crowded.

We are definitely interested in paying a fair market price as well. We will be forming a local 501c3 corporation that it will go into, so the funds that will be there to buy it and support it will come locally. It will be owned locally. I think it is a good opportunity for us to have an outreach for our school students with Bible-based, character-building teaching. We think it will be a very usable building for other functions as well.”

“I would just hate to give up or sell city ground,” Burenheide said.

“With the swimming pool and the tennis courts, when there comes a time that we would need to grow recreation, that would be a prime piece of property for us to use,” Wittmer said. “I really hate to see anything other than that type of building or business to come in that area, since everything around it is recreation.”

“Doug, have we ever in the past looked at that for other tennis courts?” Schmitt said.

“It was mentioned probably 10 or 12 years ago about tennis courts, but that’s all it was, was a discussion,” Allen said.

“It obviously doesn’t go with the swimming pool, but I can’t think of anything that would be a good recreation fit in that space, because it would be divided by a street and a parking lot,” Aberle said. “I’m kind of on the thing that the city should sell any surplus land that we have. I think that is a good location for that building.”

After further discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to table the discussion until the next meeting on Monday, Oct. 24.

Also at the meeting:

The commissioners approved the minutes from the Sept. 26 meeting.

The commissioners approved purchasing a used excavator for the City of Sabetha.

The commissioners approved a setback variance for Jesse Mitchell to build a porch “a little closer to the street,” which is seven feet closer to the street than normal. This was approved unanimously by the Sabetha Planning Commission.

The commissioners approved a conditional use permit for J.R. Isch to build an oversized garage. This was approved unanimously by the Sabetha Planning Commission. 

The commissioners will meet for their next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24.

Heather Stewart175 Posts

Heather Stewart is one of two co-editors for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.

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