Commission sets public hearing for Hilmar Cheese

Vincent Marshall
Dodge City Daily Globe

The Dodge City Commission approved an ordinance on Monday to annex property into the city limits from Ford County.

The ordinance will be for land annexation near 112 Road and Highway 56/400.

According to city manager Nick Hernandez, the property would be for the Hilmar Cheese Company that will be setting up a facility in Dodge City.

"By being annexed in the city limits," Hernandez said, "the process will take place through the city."

Hernandez said a public hearing on the potential Hilmar Cheese property is set for Monday, Dec. 6 during the city commission meeting. Hernandez added that Ford County commissioners did meet and approved the resolution to annex the property.

It was announced in May 2021, that Hilmar Cheese would be bringing a new facility into Dodge City.

In the announcement, according to city officials, the project is estimated to bring an additional $550 million in capital investment and 750 new jobs within a 50-mile radius of Dodge City by late 2023.

The ordinance passed with 4-0 vote with commissioner Kent Smoll absent from the meeting.

Commissioners also approved unanimously, the purchase of 79.5 acres from Shelor Trust for the amount of $198,750. The property sits between the Expo Center and the future site of Hilmar Cheese, east of Highway 283 and south of US-400. According to city officials, the property will be used for road improvements for the intersection and can be used for accessory uses to Hilmar Cheese going forward.

Commissioner Brian Delzeit did recuse himself and did not vote.

Roadway Reconstruction and biogas agreements

A bid was approved for the reconstruction of Comanche Street from Walmart Drive to 14th Avenue for $492,138.50 with Building Solutions.

The bid did come in high based off the engineer estimate of $453,169.50 but staff believes the bid still to be reasonable.

According to city engineer Tanner Rutschman, the Building Solutions bid was the lone bid for the project.

Commissioner Joe Nuci stated that one of the complaints received at the city is residential reconstruction and questioned whether this would be a higher priority than those.

"Residential roads do need reconstruction," Rutschman said. "There are plenty of roads out there that. We tried to identify the more higher volume or traffic volume streets that didn't require, well this one in particular, doesn't require water main reconstruction with it since the water main is back behind the curb, so it's pretty straight forward."

Nuci added we would prefer the residential roads get a higher priority.

"We continue to Band-Aid, five, six years and we end up re-doing them and re-doing them instead of just taking care of them once and we don't get as many roadways done."

Commissioner Blanca Soto agreed asking what the $492,000 project could go towards for a larger project.

Rutschman said it would all depend on which needed water main reconstruction.

Mayor Rick Sowers said the reasoning behind his support of the Comanche Street reconstruction project is because it sits in the heart of the business district.

"It's only a couple of blocks but it's in the intersection that probably is the most traveled in or one of the most traveled in," Sowers said.

Sowers added that if the city is looking to add more businesses into town.

"But we're not going to be putting our best foot forward, probably our busiest business district, in total disrepair."

The commission approved the Comanche Street reconstruction with a 3-1 vote. Nuci was the lone nay vote.

Commissioners approved an agreement with Northern Natural Gas Company for $754,635.

The agreement will be for the relocation of the biogas pipeline for the expansion of the south wastewater treatment plant.

Commissioners approved the agreement unanimously.

Commissioners voted to reject a bid from APAC Kansas, Shears Division for its Division 18 road improvements for Maple Grove Cemetery.

The lone bid on the project was for $153,170.50 which, according to director of engineering Ray Slattery, came in 36% higher than the engineer estimate.

According to Slattery, he feels there is a more cost effective way to get the roadway in. Slattery said, the city plans on fixing the roadways with city staff.

The bid was rejected by the city commission unanimously.

Long Branch Lagoon rates

The commission approved new rates for Long Branch Lagoon for the 2022 season.

According to city staff who have taken over the operations of the water park, the day pass rates will be lowered by $1 making the rates $4 for ages 3-17 and for seniors; $6 for adults and $3 for groups.

Season passes will be lowered to $60 and family passes of four members moving to $180 with $30 per person to add an additional two family members.

A fitness pass will be for $50, which is a decrease of $10.

A new special will be used for morning fitness and day and night swims.

The new 20-punch pass will be for $60.

According to parks and facilities director Daniel Cecil, when the city looked at other water parks in the state, the Long Branch Lagoon came in on the high end and a change needed to be made.

Sowers disagreed with the lowering of the rates.

"I'd keep the rates the same and take that extra money and get some new equipment," Sowers said. "Get more of those rafts that they sit in to go around the lazy river. Put some more maintenance money into maintenance, because that's what I saw. If you went into the pool you got a film of body lotion that's all up on the side of the facility because nobody is scrubbing it. You got lifeguards just doing lifguarding because it's not their job to do anything else and I realize that's a management issue and hopefully we'll correct that but I wouldn't reduce the price. If we're going to draw people and we really want them to come, we have to improve the experience dramatically."

Sowers touched on food issues patrons were having in getting them in a reasonable amount of time and make the food quality food.

Nuci and Delzeit agreed with Sowers' sentiments but added that the lagoon has competition from Garden City which was touched on by manager Hernandez.

"I am all for lowering rates for once," Nuci said.

Soto added, "As a single-mom, it's a dollar here or there. I don't think we're gonna lose a lot of money with a dollar less."

The commissioners approved the rates for the lagoon unanimously.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@gannett.com