From the City Manager's Desk

May 20th, 2019

Battle of the Badges 

The Battle of the Badges Blood Drive is set for Thursday, May 30th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Holliday Building. Last year the Topeka Police Department was declared the winner of the Battle of the Badges, where a total of 58 donations of blood was given. This year the Battle of the Badges is heating up again and you can sign up to donate by making an appointment. To sign up, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and use sponsor code Topeka.

Road Construction 

The City of Topeka Public Works Department is kicking off construction season. Each week, the weekly report will have updates on the road construction projects in Topeka. 
You can check out the City of Topeka's pavement condition index (PCI) and street maintenance program to see how the Public Works Department fixes our streets. 
Construction highlights:
  • SW 21st at I-470 closure. Eastbound 2 lanes poured last Friday and westbound 2 lanes placed on Tuesday. Curbs on the south side scheduled to start on Wednesday. Additional lanes and median still remain to be placed. Contractor still on schedule to reopen the roadway by June 1st.
  • Work on Clarion Woods, Chesney Park, Arvonia/Winding Road, SW Gage and SE Adams continuing.
  • Work started this week on NW Vail between Hwy 24 and Gordon.  Staff working with a local business owner to address detour concerns.
  • Work started on the Tennessee Town SORT project.
  • Several small developer projects with public infrastructure improvements are under construction.

Planning Monthly Report

Planning released the April, 2019 Development and Growth Management (DGM) Report which can be found at www.topeka.org/planning
Highlights include:
• Total building permits are up 8% from this time last year including commercial permits which are up 28%.
• The City has seen 59 new residential units permitted to date or 63% of all new units in Shawnee County to date.
• Total building permit values increased 130% compared to this time last year
• Total building permit square footage increased 80% compared to this time last year.
• The top 5 valued permits issued last month include:
o Oakland Wasterwater Treatment Plan, NE Poplar ($2.1M)
o BT & Co, 4301 SW Huntoon, ($1.8M)
o Stormont Vail, 1615 SW 8th  ($1.5M)
o Residence - McFarland Farms, 1212 SW Steeplechase ($1.3M)
o Frito Lay ASRS, 4236 SW Kirklawn ($1.0M)

Fire Department Citizen's Academy 

The City of Topeka Fire Department graduated 19 people for the Topeka Fire Citizen's Academy on Wednesday, May 15th. Topics covered included; Hands Only CPR, Investigation Presentation, K-9 Demonstration, Participants were given rides in the Aerial, Provided opportunity to use the Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC) in smoke (fake) filled burn building

Sign Code Public Meeting

The Topeka Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing on a new comprehensive sign code for the City of Topeka on May 20th at 6:00 PM in the City Council Chambers. The new sign code would be the first comprehensive update of its kind in 50 years that addresses both permanent and temporary signs. The new code is shaped largely from an extensive public input process which aimed to improve the visual appeal of the community while accommodating the needs of all sign users and best practices. Major recommendations include:
• Maximum sign size would generally be proportional to the size of the building/property instead of a one size fits all approach.
• Discrepancies in height/size limits between zoning districts would be softened to make sign standards more uniform across all zoning districts.
• Commercial zoning districts would see reduced size and height limits except along highway intersections and large shopping/commerce centers. Non-commercial areas would see more relaxed standards.
• Monument signs would replace pole signs as the only allowed type of freestanding sign (with some exceptions).
• All temporary signs would be accommodated except portable signs.
• Abandoned signs would be prohibited and subject to removal.
The public is welcome to attend and provide testimony on the recommendations which can be found in more detail in the Planning Commission packet at https://www.topeka.org/planning . More info on the sign code update process can be found at https://www.topeka.org/planning/visual-code-update . Questions and info can be addressed to Mike Hall in the Planning and Development Department at 368-3728 or mghall@topeka.org.

 Recent Updates 

  • There have been 8 broken water mains in May with 167 breaks year to date. At this time last year there were 210 water main breaks. 
  • Public Works filled 323 potholes; 23,251 so far this year.
  • Staff from Property Maintenance will walk with Historic Old Town NIA on June 4th to spread the word of the Property Maintenance Rehabilitation program.

Ash Street Force Main and Pump Station Project

The City of Topeka Utilities Department started construction on the Ash Street Force Main project on April 15th and is scheduled to be completed in April of 2020. The original station was constructed in 1928 with an expansion occurring in 1972. The project consists of construction and installation of a new 48” diameter force main as well as upgrades to the Ash Street Pump Station’s existing pumps, gates, instrumentation and controls. There have been two failures in the existing force main, therefore this is a mandated rehabilitation project as part of the Consent Agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Citizens in the area of the Ash Street Pump Station were notified of the construction by mail this spring. An open house and informational presentation was held on January 24th. The site of construction will have several pieces of large equipment working in the area. The City of Topeka asks that citizens be cautious around the construction work zone. Please follow all temporary construction work zone traffic control which will include detours for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. For more information please contact City Wastewater Engineer Michelle Neiswender at 368-4251.

AZA Hero's 

We need animal conservation heroes more than ever as the world is losing wildlife thousands of times faster than the natural extinction rate. A new public service announcement unveiled today by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) features four professionals who embody what it means to be a champion for wildlife and wild places including Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center's Rachael Rost. The winners of the AZA Find Our Wildlife Heroes contest, who star in the ad, share the unique paths they’ve pursued to help save endangered species. The full PSA and vignettes featuring each of the heroes may be viewed on AZA’s YouTube channel.
Last fall, AZA invited members of its 233-accredited facilities to submit personal stories of their passion for animal care and conservation. Over 100 entries were received, highlighting the diverse work of professionals at AZA-accredited facilities and the love they have for their jobs.
After deliberation from a panel of judges, as well as a public voting period, four members from AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums were chosen as Our Wildlife Heroes. These four heroes represent professionals at AZA facilities who play a hands-on role in the care and conservation of animals. Rachel Rost was one of four winners. Rachael is an educator who directly connects with thousands of students per year, engaging them in citizen science and inspiring conservation in the classroom.


Coming Up

  • The Topeka Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing on a new comprehensive sign code for the City of Topeka on May 20th at 6:00 PM in the City Council Chambers.
  • SPCP District 4 meeting, 05/20/2019.

Brent Trout 

This weekly report is presented to you from the office of City Manager Brent Trout.
This report was produced through our open data portal. We have several other open data portals to help connect you with the work we do, including portals that let you: