Topeka City Council moves forward with widening project on 21st Street

A nearly $6 million project will head to 21st Street. Council members voted Tuesday evening after deferring action several weeks ago. Some council members had questioned if a 10-year-old vote legally bound them to completing the project.

Mary Holloway fears more road work near her flower shop at 21st and Urish Road will run her out of business.

“I haven’t recovered from the last bout of construction so another set of it is very overwhelming,” Holloway says.

But that’s exactly what’s on tap. City Council members voted 7-2 to approve a widening project on 21st Street using $5.7 million allocated in the county-wide half-cent sales tax.

“From my perspective, it is not a need,” Holloway says.

The project would widen 21st Street by one lane from Indian Hills Road about a mile east to Urish Road.

“I think everyone recognizes that improvements do need to be made and I do think business owners here recognize that and are supportive of that,” says owner of Sherwood Animal Clinic, Matt Zupka, “It’s just the manner in which it’s done.”

Councilman Chad Manspeaker has questioned the project from the beginning, saying the money could be used elsewhere in the city. However, Shawnee County residents voted for this half cent sales tax in 2004, which covers several specific construction projects including this one. Councilwoman Denise Everhart voted for the project, saying she’ll stick with the original decision.

“There’s also an obligation to the small businesses in the community which supposedly are the backbone of these economies,” says Zupka, “And they just need to not hinder us any more than is absolutely necessary in order to make improvements.”

Zupka adds if the construction is efficient and promotes growth in the area, he supports it – but Holloway says any road work will hurt her.

“No matter what i would do for public relations to get my name out there, people can’t get to me, the cost of me doing business goes way higher and i can’t stay in business,” she says.

There was question as to whether the city was legally obligated to complete this project, since residents voted for it in 2004.

The city attorney did not make a statement on that at the meeting, only that any improvements to the road would satisfy the ballot question.

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