Letter to the Editor

Roadside park still an issue

Friday, September 22, 2006

To the Editor:

We have been working very hard to try to save the park at U.S. 54 and K-7. We have also gotten other people involved to help who feel just as strongly as we do about the park at the corner of U.S. 54 and K-7.

We have involved lawyers, Senator Jim Barone, Representative Lynne Oharah, Congressman Jim Ryun, Senator Sam Brownback's office, business men and women, my family, and neighbors.

We ended up with 718 legible signatures from both petitions. We have faxed them, e-mailed them and have called the governor's office. We have also spoken with about 20 to 30 people.

I have also contacted Southeast Kansas District Engineer Mike Stringer of Chanute, Kan. and Mike Stock, of Topeka, Kan., Secretary of KDOT Deb Miller, as well as Director of Constituent Services Vicki Buening, just to name a few.

We are writing this letter in hopes to get the people of Bourbon County's attention.

Kathleen Sebelius acts as though she could care less about Bourbon County, much less anything else that does not affect her directly. She seems like unless the attention is strictly focused on her, she does not want anything to do with other tax payers' wants or concerns.

I know that that park did not affect a bunch of people in town, but out here on the west side of the county, it did. It was a place that people met for exchange of their kids, it was a landmark that everyone knew of that they could give directions from, it was a wonderful place to turn around, to use a cell phone and the list goes on and on. All of this has been sent to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' office either faxed, mailed, e-mailed or told to her secretaries.

The last letter that I have received from the the Director of Constituent Services office says, "We are sorry that the public interest in this project came after destruction of the entrance of the park...In 2006, before Secretary Miller ordered final closure of the facility, she directed her staff to discuss transfer of the property to Bourbon County... Bourbon County determined they were unable to assume the burden of maintenance and upkeep at this location and expressed no further interest in keeping the park open."

As far as I have been able to find out by talking to KDOT, Jim Pickett in Iola, Kan. he told me that he did not know if the county could assume the responsibility due to there being two state highways that intersect. He also said that to his knowledge that not one person has tried to find that out.

Sec. Miller advises that her office was not aware of the current public sentiment and regrets that she is unable to take any corrective action at this time. It is not feasible to rebuild the entrance knowing that there are no funds available to keep the park safe and operational.

The problem with all of this is that I contacted Senator Jim Barone in April of 2006! The park was torn out June 19, 2006 and June 20, 2006. On June the 19th I talked to Representative Lynne Oharah and asked him to please make them stop tearing it out. He called Secretary of KDOT on the 19th and he could not get in contact with her. On the 20th, Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller did contact him and told him that the demolition would stop immediately and in a subsequent meeting that she would let Representative Oharah take it to the legislative body to get a bill together so that we the people could vote on it. They did not, however, stop demolition until the park was all gone, trees, asphalt, concrete slab where that picnic table once stood, all of it, gone!

Do you want to see the government work for you? Do you want to do something for the area but don't know what? You can!

All you have to do it take a little time and call the governor's office in Topeka, Kan., call her over and over again, tell her that you didn't like what she did, you do not like what she has done, and you sure do not like what it is that her appointed people are doing in our county.

It is not clear why they took the park out. What is clear is that we need a bunch of people to call Topeka, leave a message, tell her that you want this roadside park back. Tell her that you signed the petition and that you want to be heard. If you didn't sign and you wanted to, tell her that, also. If enough people call, they will put it back. Please call her. I know that it sounds so simple, but you can make a difference. This is the last hope for this park.

If we don't fight for what we believe in now, then when our rights are gone, we won't have a leg to stand on.

The governor's number is (785) 296-3232.

Heather J. Ethridge

June Bloomfield

Connie Hoener