Manspeaker calls for action on Heartland Park petition

TOPEKA (KSNT) – City Councilman Chad Manspeaker seeks action to be taken by the Topeka City Council at this week’s meeting in regards to the Heartland Park petition.

In a news release sent Monday morning, Manspeaker says, “I first would like to call on the County Commission to look into the handling of the petition by their staff. It would appear given the emails released last week that the best interest of the petition signers was at best, not a priority and at worst, intentionally misguided. The County Commission as the elected body of the County must stand and account for the County Counselors action or lack thereof.” Manspeaker said. “It is this kind of lack of oversight that gives me strong concerns about the way the County does business.”

The three steps of action that Chad Manspeaker sees for the Topeka City Council are:

i. A member of the prevailing side on the original ordinance, of which Manspeaker
is not, can call to reconsider the ordinance. The Council can have a second vote
on it and try to best represent the will of the people. This action may or may not
accurately echo the voice of the populace, but would give the City an opportunity
to sit back down with all interested party involved with Heartland Park to try and
reach better terms for the track’s future.

ii. The City Council can direct the City Manager and the City Attorney not to
challenge the petition. Manspeaker has already asked the City Attorney’s office to
draft such a resolution and plans to add it to this Tuesday agenda.

iii. The City Council can call for a ballot question that is correctly worded if there are
concerns with the way the petition is worded. This would allow for a vote of the
people to take place and for city staff to quell any concerns that they may have.
Manspeaker has also asked the City Attorney’s office to draft this as well incase
the City Council chooses this as the appropriate course of action.

Last week, Topeka City Manager Jim Colson said the city will ask for a court ruling to decide the validity of a petition that would ask for a public vote on whether the city should take over Heartland Park Topeka. The city hired a third party law firm, Lathrop and Gage, for an opinion on the petition organized by Topekan Chris Imming. In their opinion, the petition is invalid, preventing the governing body from moving forward with an election at this time, according to a press release provided by the City of Topeka. The city is planning to file a motion for declaratory judgement with Shawnee County District Court. If the court determines it is a lawful petition, the city will take the issue back to the governing body to determine the next steps. At issue is this: The City is in the process of buying Heartland Park and expanding the STAR Bond district. Imming started a petition drive to force the matter to a public vote. Last week, he gathered more than enough valid signatures for the petition. If an election were to be held at some point, the City would bear the cost which is estimated at somewhere between 168,000 and 200,000 dollars.

We will have the latest on this developing story including more from councilman Manspeaker on Kansas First News at 5 and 6p.

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