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Commission gets noise complaints

3/7/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The Hays City Commission discussed neighborhood nuisances, infrastructure and water conservation during its work session Thursday.

Geoff Kuhn, a resident living near Fifth and Ash, addressed the commission about noise and vandalism in his neighborhood near Fort Hays State University. Kuhn said he has called police 17 times in two years with noise complaints about his neighbors.

Issues have ranged from men drinking on his front porch at night, a driver who was "blaring his music, thumping bass all over the place" and loud Golden-Q patrons leaving the restaurant, Kuhn said.

"I about can't go to sleep before 3 in the morning anymore," he said.

The resident wanted commissioners to consider stronger measures aimed at reducing incidents. Summer's approach means the neighborhood will either be quiet or "ridiculously noisy," he said.

Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler said the fine for a loud noise disturbance is $170. The incident rate has fallen 30 percent from 2011, and the 200-people house parties once seen are no longer an issue.

The police department educates FHSU students about responsible partying, and it can increase its outreach to the university's community, he said. Police bicycle patrols during warmer weather also can have an impact.

Commissioner Ron Mellick said the FHSU residents can change every semester.

"You have kids coming in, they're right out of high school," Mellick said. "They don't have Mom and Dad, and the police department is the one that ends up having to parent those kids."

Other business on the agenda:

* The Wild West Festival presented its plan for a military/first responder memorial in Municipal Park. Each organization would have their insignias displayed alongside quotes about their service and sacrifices. The project would have panels with text, a large flagpole, landscaping and a separate granite slab on the ground to recognize sponsors. The proposal also suggested changing the park's name to the Wild West Festival Park.

Vice Mayor Henry Schwaller IV said he would approve the project if it did not feature sponsor logos.

"It is inappropriate to have a sponsorship of a memorial that is so public ... you know, Coca-Cola didn't bring us Arlington National Cemetery," Schwaller said.

Mayor Kent Steward said he suggested the park's name be Wild West Park to reflect the area's heritage.

"When I saw the name change, my immediate reaction was very negative," Steward said. "And I presented it to really quite a number of people, and I could hardly get the words out of my mouth before they were objecting," Steward said.

The committee will present again at a future meeting.

* Commissioners debated adopting regulations intended to make future construction projects and renovations more water-efficient. They want city staff to provide clear language stating existing sites would need to comply only with the new ordinances if plumbing or water-using fixtures are being renovated.

In most cases, the proposed rules are projected to save at least 20 percent more water than under federal standards.

* City staff shared an idea to detect water leaks in the city's buried water distribution lines and raw water collection system. The 2014 budget allocated $50,000 for the project, but a request for proposals must be distributed before staff understands how much work can be done for the cost.

* Another topic concerned annexing undeveloped property along 22nd Street into the city and rezoning it from agricultural to an office and institution district. Possible uses for the land would include hospitals, office buildings and nursing homes.

The proposal calls for the property to be divided into three usable lots and have one for drainage.

* Commissioners learned about a $548,715 bid for street, water and sanitary sewer improvements for 34 lots in the Golden Belt Estates Fifth Addition.