Group to assist community announces formation


Chanute city commissioners discussed the role of the Downtown Revitalization Committee before appointing members during Monday evening’s commission meeting.

The commissioners appointed four of the seven voting at-large members and named a city commissioner who will be a non-voting member. Appointees Sharon Stirewalt, Mark Perez, Travis West and Garrett Sharp and Commissioner Kevin Berthot were named to the committee 4-1, with Mayor Jacob LaRue opposed after commissioners discussed the need to move forward.

Main Street Chanute Director Ruthann Boatwright said she has received concerns from the community and asked for clarification on the committee’s goals.

“I’m still not clear on this one bit whatsoever,” LaRue said.

Commissioner Phil Chaney said the committee has been in place before without pushback.

“It’s the same philosophy we had before,” he said. “Now all of a sudden we’re stepping on toes.”

He said he has not seen anything happen to improve downtown significantly.

“We can do better,” he said.

The commission did not make appointments to the Downtown Revitalization Committee, or really even discuss the need for one, until the passage in 2019 of a sales tax that would fund improvements to city-owned buildings, in addition to funding the Chanute Regional Development Authority.

Non-voting members of the committee include the Main Street, CRDA and Chamber of Commerce directors, the city manager and a city employee appointed by the city manager.

Berthot said he felt the committee would work in conjunction with the other agencies rather than shunt them aside.

Chaney said he would like to see high school seniors on the committee to provide a younger outlook.

LaRue said Main Street Chanute held a meeting early this year and had planned later meetings before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic interrupted the plans. He said without that disruption, Chaney would have seen more action.

“If we’re not going to do anything, let’s talk about something fun,” Commissioner Tim Fairchild said. “I’m ready to give it a shot.”

He said he has been impressed with improvements the Chanute Historical Society has made to its museum.

Commissioner Sam Budreau said revitalization will have to be a multifaceted approach.

In other business, commissioners appointed Doug Klaassen to the Human Relations Board.

Commissioners heard from representatives of the We Are 1 Chanute organization, Gene Huston and Gilbert Haynes, about plans to assist homeowners with property clean-up and a request for help on landfill fees.

The commission voted to waive landfill fees for the group and to make a $2,000 donation. The fees will be waived during the fiscal year.

The group stemmed from a social media posting about help for the north side of the city, but Huston said it will not be limited to that area. He requested help for things that have to go to the landfill but can’t go into dumpsters, like tires and brush.

“I think we can make a difference for some people,” Haynes said.

Huston said they have been in contact with a half-dozen property owners and 40 to 50 volunteers. The group plans a meeting at 6:30 pm Thursday at the train, and will do its first project Saturday.

“There’s a call to action and I think you guys have answered it,” LaRue said.

The commission approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Neosho County for $28,900 the city has requested for CARES act funding to reimburse police and fire department salaries and the purchase of personal protection equipment needed for the coronavirus pandemic.

The commission also approved a Neighborhood Revitalization Program application from ASH Real Estate for a home project at 1615 W. 11th.

Commissioners voted to find property at 714 S. Western, owned by the Ritz Family Trust,  in violation of city code after hearing from neighbors who have brought noise complaints.

The tenant at the property has been in conflict with neighbors over music and the car stereo, which Chaney said he has witnessed. The two separate neighbors at Monday’s meeting said the landlord does not take action, and City Manager Todd Newman said the tenant has incurred fines. The commission action means the owner could face fines of $100 per violation.

The commission also passed resolutions to find properties at 1012 S. Washington, owned by James and Erica Warriax; 1021 N. Grant, owned by Steve Fickel; 121 S. Denman, owned by Dennis Houseworth; 505 S. Highland, owned by Nicolus Smith; and 12 S. Garfield, owned by David Small, in violation of city code.


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