Election result kickstarts major Platte City road project

With the result of last week’s election, a major roadway project in Platte City can begin and likely very soon. The City of Platte City and Platte County R-3 School District officials have already resumed talks on the extension of Kentucky Avenue from its current terminus at Bent Oak Court to Fourth Street. The new roadway will help service the district’s new elementary building set to be built on adjacent property after voters approved a property tax increase last week that will fund $29 million worth of construction projects.

The tax levy question passed with about 56 percent in support.

Preliminary work on the new roadway can start almost immediately, and that type of timeline might be needed. Platte County wants its new building to be ready for occupancy starting with the 2016-2017 school year.

Both sides want to fund a four-lane divided boulevard-style roadway that picks up at the current terminus and meets up with Fourth Street around Norma Lane.

“We are going to do everything we can to not delay the school’s construction, let them stay on their schedule,” DJ Gehrt said.

Back in November, Platte City voters gave 66-percent approval to a no-tax ballot question allowing the city ability to issued $2.7 million in bonds that can only be used toward this specific road project. It is not related to the currently delayed proposal to extend Kentucky Avenue into the back of McDonald’s/QuikTrip to provide those businesses with an additional entrance/exit point.

Planning began for the lengthier extension in 2011 and 2012 before a failed tax levy question put the project on hold.

Platte City officials sought the bonding authority last year, knowing that the east-west connection would need to be completed in the near future. They had planned to go ahead with the project themselves by 2018 if further development on the currently district-owned plot of about 60 acres known as the “Duncan Farm” had not begun.

“Kentucky absolutely had to go through, regardless of the school project,” Gehrt said. “We know that the community needs Kentucky through, so our worst-case scenario was that if nothing else occurred the city would be in position, no tax increase, to put it through ourselves in 2018.

“That’s certainly not the preferred method. If us and the school district work together and it goes in as an integrated part of the school project, it is just a much smoother. It’s going to be a better project and more cost-effective.”

Due to previous planning, talks on a development agreement mostly resumed at that stopping point.

Gehrt said he hopes to have the project ready for the Platte City Planning and Zoning Commission’s May meeting, and pending approval, ready for the Platte City Board of Aldermen later in the month. The city would take on the cost with the school district refunding its portion through payments built into the $0.43 per $100 of assessed valuation property tax increase.

Estimates for the road work were built into the proposal taken to voters, and Gehrt envisions the district paying about 50 percent of the cost. Future development — by the school district or future land owner on the rest of the currently vacant 60 acres — would pay the city back for the remainder.