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City of Edgerton Excited About Moving Forward with Intermodal

Posted on Jun. 25th, 2009
Posted by Avis Solie
edgerton council meeting During a break at the Edgerton City Council Meeting on 25JUN09, (L to R) Bill Crandall of the Allen Group; Carol Lehman of the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce; Frank Denning, Johnson County Sheriff; and Tom Riederer, President of Southwest Johnson County EDC discuss the impact of Edgerton annexing the intermodal site. (gardneredge photo)
The Edgerton City Council held its first meeting since the City of Gardner rescinded its Intermodal Agreements with BNSF Railroad and The Allen Group. It was a positive experience for all involved.
The Council meeting started with a period for public comments. Two citizens made comments. One referenced the Intermodal Project. Pat Burton, past member of the City Council, called it a great project.

A bit later in the meeting, the Council briefly discussed some types of ordinances that they may want to address as the Intermodal Project progresses. Idling trucks and jake brakes? Heidi Wiseman pointed out that some residences are very close to the commercial areas. Edgerton may want to consider adding a truck stop. Excise taxes? They can add to the City’s coffers, but may also discourage development. These are issues to be discussed further at work meetings.

Bill Crandall addressed the Council, introducing himself and The Allen Group. Crandall has lived in Johnson County for nearly 50 years. The Allen Group is based in Texas, but opened a local office in Gardner when negotiations started in earnest there two years ago. The Allen Group is itself a small business, still family-owned with 40-50 employees. They’re interested in the communities in which they participate.

Crandall doesn’t feel that they’ve thrown away two years of work. Rather, they’ve written the “roadmap to success for the City of Edgerton”. BNSF and The Allen Group have already been exchanging drafts for a forthcoming agreement.

Edgerton Mayor Don Roberts is obviously pleased with this unexpected opportunity. He “thought that they would get the crumbs, instead of what was on the plate”. Roberts went on to thank “the neighbor to the east” for this chance. The negotiating team of Edgerton City Administrator David Dillner, Mayor Don Roberts and Council Member Clay Longanecker was finalized. A work session to cover details was set for Monday, June 29. Bill Crandall will have a presentation for a work session on Tuesday, July 7, to better familiarize them with the ‘big picture’ of the logistics industry. Crandall expressed confidence that his past career experience working from the city side of the table is helpful is translating the scope of the project.

Crandall stressed the sense of urgency. They have to get started. He will be talking to Johnson County about the possibility of getting a road stubbed into the site prior to the Intermodal. It is the buildings – the warehouses – that are the economic generators. They will supply the bulk of the jobs. The 404 Permit may be completed within days. The application for the TIGER stimulus funds is due in September, 2009. The Intermodal and Logistics Park may begin construction early in 2010.
Asked by a resident if the Council was going to vote to proceed, Mayor Roberts indicated that the City of Edgerton is going forward. There is no vote indicated at this time. But they are ready to start negotiating.

The last public comment of the evening came from Betty Wiseman, who lives on the south side of 191st Street – directly across the street from the Intermodal site. They will bear the brunt of any negatives more fully than almost anyone else. Yet Betty and her husband wanted Bill Crandall, Mayor Roberts and the Edgerton City Council to know that they were very excited that they were prepared to move forward and that this project could come to fruition. It’s a great thing for our communities. Because there were no votes that might have given an indication to the public and the developer regarding the position of the various Council Members on the issue of the intermodal, Mayor Roberts invited each Council Member to make a statement if they wished. Comments were brief, but each member expressed support in general or enthusiastic terms. The one qualifying statement was "as long as the numbers work, I'm in favor of it."

Among those on hand at the meeting tonight were Sheriff Frank Denning, County Commissioner Calvin Hayden, Assistant County Administrator Bernice Duletski, with Carol Lehman and Lisa Bunce representing the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce.