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The Department of Natural Resources will pay a visit to Richmond next week to tell the city exactly what it needs to do right now.
City Administrator Rick Childers however, wanted to make some things clear Wednesday night before DNR visits.
Childers expressed some disdain about Councilwoman Terrie Stanley’s phone call to Kansas City Regional Director Karl Fett. Childers said Fett was asked, what Richmond needs to do about its wastewater and water systems. Childers said Fett should have been asked about orders the city already has from DNR.
“That’s not the right question,” Childers said. “The answer to that question is, ‘what are the current orders?’ The question we asked of our field staff is, ‘what are we going to face?’ It’s not the same question.”
Wastewater Superintendent C.E. Goodall backed up Childers’ concern and said the city needs to listen to the DNR field agents they are working with.
“Those are the two you need to talk to,” Goodall said. “I’m not saying nobody should call Karl Fett. That’s fine. He’ll pull out a folder and look in it. These guys are your field people. They’re the ones that will be out here and see what’s happening.”
Childers said he wants Tuesday’s meeting to focus on what is needed. Following the two directives from DNR and addressing the stabilization of the hillside at the South Wastewater Plant are what he wants to focus on – not how to pay for it.
“This is not a numbers meeting, and the council meeting is not going to be a numbers meeting,” Childers said. “It’s going to be what things are needed, and you’re going to have an opportunity to take a crap shoot in how long it will take these things to fall apart.
“I don’t want dollars involved in it at this point because everyone needs to leave the meeting, ‘Ok, I actually agree that we need to do this this and this, whatever this is,’” he added.
At issue between some councilmen is what is needed and what is on the wish list. Some councilmen believe that addressing future growth by expanding the plant is something that needs to be looked at now, while others say that current infrastructure needs to be maintained.
At the Public Works meeting on Wednesday, Engineer Jeff Thorn told the council that DNR can hold back permits if the city’s system cannot handle future development. He said the South Plant is at 93 percent capacity and DNR does not like to see a plant go more than 85 percent capacity.
Councilmen Dave Powell and Tom Williams said they were concerned about sub-divisions not being able to finish, although both did not give any real good reasons to be optimistic about growth in Richmond at this time.
However, Childers said he sees signs of growth.
“We just opened a new KFC/Taco Bell. We’ve got a developer looking at a development in that very same area,” Childers said. “Yeah, there are some signs.”
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Wright was not so sure.
“I don’t think so,” Wright said in answering the question. “Actually, we’re probably seeing a decline.”
The next council meeting is June 23 at 6:30 p.m.