City Commission hears concerns over housing signs, Fake Patty’s Day cleanup

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The Manhattan City Commission heard complaints about sign regulations from Manhattan landlords, and agreed to post-pone littering violations on Fake Patty’s Day until noon to allow adequate time to clean up without penalties, among other business, at the meeting Tuesday evening.

Richard Hall, speaking on behalf of Manhattan landlords, brought up littering violations after Fake Patty’s Day. Hall expressed concern that by posting violations early in the morning the day after the celebration, the city wasn’t giving landlords enough time to clean up the trash. Hall cited how last year 70 citations were posted between 8:30-11 a.m. on the Sunday morning following Fake Patty’s Day, but only two locations were still in violation by Monday morning.

The City Commission came to an agreement with the landlords that states the city will not begin posting citations until noon on Sunday in an attempt to give landlords an adequate amount of time to clean up the mess from Fake Patty’s Day.

During the public comment section of the meeting, Chris Elsey of Prime Place, a student housing development, spoke to the commission about issues the company has faced with signage in the Manhattan area. According to Elsey, Prime Place has repeatedly been contacted by city officials stating that its signs are not in compliance with city code. However, Elsey showed several examples of similar rental properties with signs of similar or greater size.

“These signs are important for our business,” Elsey said. “We survey our tenants every year and ask how they found out about us, and over half of our tenants said that our signs brought us to their attention.”

According to Elsey, the company is responsible for 474 total beds in Manhattan. However, due to strict building and advertising policies, they have recently chosen to expand their buildings in Stillwater, Okla. instead of Manhattan.

Commissioners passed an ordinance allowing a temporary beer garden in City Park on Aug. 1 and 2 in coordination with the annual Rhythm and Brews and Manhattan Running Company’s Brew 2 Shoe races. This event is also being coordinated with the Union Program Council’s Little Apple Music Festival.

Commissioner Usha Reddi expressed concerns about having the event on the night that Arts in the Park concerts are generally scheduled.

“If it were any other night I’d be ok with it, but this is a place parents can take their kids and know there isn’t going to be alcohol and I just don’t want to ruin that,” Reddi said.

However, Butler and commissioners Karen McCulloh and Rich Jankovich were all in support of the event. McCulloh said that she would like to see the event advertised separately from regular Arts in the Park events so that families can be aware of the fact that there will be alcohol present that night.

The profits of this event will go to the Arts in the Park program. According to Jason Hilgers, deputy city manager, event planners anticipate the profits of the event to be between $3,700-5,000.

Gary Coates, professor of architecture, attended the meeting with his architecture class and their recent project, which was given to them by the city. For the project, students were divided into eight teams and challenged to redesign Blue Earth Plaza, a space next to the Flint Hills Discovery Center, to better utilize the space while maintaining a space for the farmers’ market and attempting to be as sustainable as possible. Three teams presented their plans during the meeting and all of the plans were on display outside of the meeting.

Many of the plans incorporated a stage to draw in more music to the area. Several included booths for the farmers’ market, hidden bathroom facilities, water features and redesigned grass areas.

In other business, Manhattan Mayor Pro Tem Wynn Butler declared March 10-16 Brain Awareness Week and stated March will serve as American Red Cross and March for Meals month.

Butler also recognized the Manhattan Falcon’s third and fourth grade flag football team. The team was awarded the Outstanding Sportsmanship Award by the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association.

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