Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2001

Graves says city, county cooperation vital to Sunflower plant clean-up

October 25, 2001

Gov. Bill Graves said last Friday that the state, Johnson County and city of De Soto needs time to develop a plan for the development and cleanup of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

The governor was in De Soto for the grand opening of Mr. Goodcents' new training and research center in the K-10 Industrial Park. Graves conceded Sunflower has landed in his and the state's lap with the apparent demise of Oz Entertainment Company's redevelopment plan for the plant.

"The situation was focused on Oz for so long, we need to take time to step back and get a clear focus on where we're at," he said. "We really have to go back and ask ourselves what can we do to remediate what is by all accounts a very serious environmental situation and do so with a plan in mind that successfully develops the property.

"I think it would be a mistake for anybody to assume that some kind of plan is going to be developed in a very short order."

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas State and Kansas universities, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and other state agencies have an interest or role at Sunflower, Graves said. Although he didn't rule out a more active role for the state, including possible purchase of Sunflower land, Graves said its immediate role is one of "facilitator."

"There are lots of invitations out there for communication and conversation," he said. "We need to be talking to county folks; we need to be talking to city folks. I want to talk with some of the people at GSA (the U.S. General Services Administration) and the Army to see where they think we are."

State revenue projections on which he must base the state's 2003 budget will be released Nov. 2. The governor said there isn't much optimism surrounding the release of the projections. If the numbers reflect the county's economic slowdown as many expect, they could mean Graves will have to recommend sharp spending restraints.

"I'm not expecting a whole lot of good news," he said. "For us right now the best-case scenario is that they would project forth what we have already been thinking. We're holding our breath they don't make a projection that is a substantial cut.

"After seven years, I've reached a point that I don't lose a lot of sleep over consensus. It's a fact that late in the afternoon Nov. 2 they'll hand me the number I must budget to, and by law, that's what I'll do."

The budget could be one area of contention with the Legislature, but Graves has already staked out one difference. Republican legislators are endorsing a congressional redistricting plan that would split Douglas County between the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts and trim part of the 3rd District from Wyandotte County.

"I like keeping the historic greater Kansas City areas together, which is Wyandotte and Johnson counties," he said. "I've not seen a map yet that would keep Wyandotte and Johnson together and also a large part or all of Douglas County in the same district.

"It seems to me what we should be focused on is a map where Wyandotte and Johnson are together and Douglas is wholly contained in perhaps the 2nd District."

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