Darlington Township residents Matt and Kathy Inlow came before the Harvey County Commission at its meeting Tuesday to discuss an issue the governing body is not unfamiliar with — concerns over the intersection at SW 96th Street and Meridian Road.
Previously, Darlington Township Clerk Leo Stahly has come before the commission to discuss visibility issues at the intersection, something the Inlows also spoke to.
"I have almost met the school bus at that corner intersection this year because I could not see it at all," said Kathy Inlow, describing visiblity issues caused by man-made berms surrounding a pond on private property.
While the county is waiting on a traffic study before potentially installing any signage — standard policy, according to County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber — the main culprit of those visibility issues is worrisome for other reasons.
The combination of the rainfall this summer and the placement of those berms has made for a dangerous combination for the Inlows, mail carriers and — soon — bus drivers. While commissioner Randy Hague noted those heavy rains are not a unique situation, as the county is dealing with widespread issues from that, the Inlows argued this intersection is different precisely because of the existence of those berms and how it manipulates the normal water flow.
"We've had 6-inch rains in past years and it's never washed the road, eroded the road, anything like that," Matt Inlow said.
"If the property owner would remove the berms, all of these problems would go away," Kathy said.
Currently, the Inlows noted those berms are "melting" into the ditches along the road and impeding normal water flow. That has increased erosion to the point where a drainage culvert has almost become a visible part of the road, according to Kathy Inlow.
How any outside assistance can be offered is a little tricky, because the intersection is part of a township road — though the Inlows credited township crews for the work they've done. Additionally, the berms being on private property and surrounding a man-made pond limit any input from the Department of Water Resources.
"It is a township road, so we have very limited work we could do on it, unless they hire us to do it," said Commission Chair Chip Westfall. "We are swamped right now because of flood damage."
Given that the road has been impacted by recent flooding, Emergency Management Director Gary Denny noted it would be eligible for FEMA funding, which he hoped Darlington Township included as part of the damages in its application. Commissioner Hague called for those funds to help with improvement of the drainage ditches, but it was also noted that the property owner is currently working on a permit for a wedding venue and questions were raised if some funds for that would be set aside for road improvements.
While Planning and Zoning Director Gina Bell noted the berms and man-made pond are not specifically outlined, she has been in communication with the property owner about those issues and how it pertains to moving forward with the project.
"It's such a big deal that I really wish that he would take care of this first," Bell said.
After meeting with the county, the Inlows also plan to bring their concerns to Darlington Township and the Sedgwick school district to potentially address the issues at the intersection.
In other business, the county commission:
Was informed of the upcoming City to City leadership trip to San Antonio, as well as the scholarships available through the Harvey County Economic Development Council, with commissioners asked to register if they are interested in going. Given San Antonio's work with local law enforcement on mental health, commissioner Westfall suggested the county should be represented in some way on the trip.
Learned that FEMA funding for hazard mitigation grants has been made available in conjunction with the flooding from October 2018, for which the application deadline will be coming up in August. Similar monies have also been made available for the more recent flooding, with a later application deadline in October. Denny noted Harvey County will be applying for those grant funds that are intended to go towards mitigating/life saving efforts tied to such natural disasters. An applicant meeting for the most recent flood damage, Denny noted, will also be held next Monday.
Received information from the EDC on the expansion of Martin Machine and Welding in Halstead.
Discussed some upcoming regional meetings with the Kansas Department of Transportation and REAP (on broadband internet) and which commissioners could potentially attend.
Heard an update on recycling efforts, with Waste Connections planning to start use of its roll off dumpster and more proactive sorting of recycling on July 22 (after the Harvey County recycling center is cleared out this week).
Approved Resolution 2019-14 for the sale of Road and Bridge equipment.
Approved processing of a Solid Waste grant intended to go towards the purchase of a compost turner for the department.
Appointed Dale Jernberg to the Parks Advisory Board, waiving second reading.
Approved the issuance of a letter in support of the Rural Responses to the Opioid Epidemic funding opportunity.
Approved the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging plan for FY 2020, authorizing commission chair Westfall to sign.
Learned that a grader has been leased for the Solid Waste Department, with the intent to eventually purchase a used model.