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The Kenig Konnection

April 2016

Let the repairs begin...

<<First Name>>,

Spring is now in the air and the Royals played their first home opener since winning the World Series. We've also had one of the mildest winters in the last decade, which I love, since once again I didn't have to shovel or pull out the snow blower.

Last week at our city council meeting, Mayor Distler read a proclamation for "Lucy's Kids for Peace Day 2016." Lucy's Kids for Peace is a local chapter (started here in Shawnee in 2012) of a global organization that promotes community service, global friendship, and good works among kids. Our local group is named after Lucy Webber, a one year old girl in our neighborhood who passed away from a cancerous tumor in 2010. The local organization was started by Jill Chalfie in 2012 in Lucy's memory. The oganization is active in charitable efforts across the city and metro area, and participates in city events, such as St. Patrick's Day Parade and Old Shawnee Days Parade.

The local chapter was started in Ward 4 in my neighborhood, Seven Hills Farms, and I was more than happy to facilitate the renewal of the proclamation in honor of all the community service and charitable works these young kids do to make the world a better place. Thank you to Ward 4 resident Jill Chalfie for organizing the turnout of these phenomenal kids and having them inform us of all the good work they do.

From train horns to the odor issue at the Deffenbaugh landfill, I have many updates to report, and information on recent street and stormwater repair work, as well as reports on recent travels. I also traveled to Washington, D.C. last month for the Congressional Cities Conference and toured RiskIQ, a growing Ward 4 tech firm, with Congressman Kevin Yoder.

Resolution to Landfill Odors

Extensive gas extraction system completed

Waste Management officials with the Deffenbaugh landfill appeared before the Governing Body last month to request renewal of their special use permit which allows them to operate the landfill in city limits. The pervasive odor issue has now been resolved with the completed installation of 32 gas extraction wells and 14,000 feet of gas piping that trap the odorous gases and burn them via a flare before they are released into the atmosphere. Landfill officials have also extended coverings across the most recent landfill site that aids in trapping the odor. Since the completion of the gas well system, odor complaints have decreased significantly, and landfill officials assured us they would collaborate with the city on a system to handle future odor complaints in a timely manner and ensure regular communications with city officials, which has been an issue since the landfill was acquired by Waste Management.

Ultimately, we voted to extend the landfill's special use permit for only 90 days rather than a full year to provide time for Waste Management to work out a communications plan with the city and a process for handling future complaints.

Also, I asked Waste Management officials how they would proactively monitor odor issues as we head into the spring, since the constant rain last spring caused over-saturation that led to the spread of odors far beyond the immediate area surrounding the landfill, and if weather patterns would be monitored. I was satisfied with the answer - that the gas well system could be adjusted for pressure based on the weather patterns and seasonal variation.

Click here to read an article from The Shawnee Dispatch about the resolution to the odor issue, including the question I posed to Waste Management officials about proactively responding to weather situations that could increase odors.

For more detail on the steps taken by Waste Management to address the odor situation, visit the landing page they created to address common questions and outline the timeline of the gas well installation:

Update on Train Horns

Effort to silence horns by closing crossings

55th Street - City staff is reviewing access issues and now has cost estimates for construction of a crossing and a bridge. Access from the southern property is also being evaluated.

59th Street - This crossing is set to be closed, and BNSF Railroad has provided three different dates that the horns will stop sounding. The city has completed all work on their end, so we are just awaiting for BNSF to provide the final date when the horns will stop and the crossing will be permanently closed.  

73rd Street - The city has received preliminary plans from TranSystems for converting a residential driveway entrance to a public street and install a full crossing. The city is awaiting final review by FRA and KDOT and first review by BNSF.  Next steps include completion of a Quiet Zone analysis before the design can be approved, and that is expected next week. The city is also exploring trail access in the area, that would connect to Shawnee Mission Park, and options to fund a low water bridge for the property owner whose driveway would be converted into a public street for the planned crossing. Once all of those options are fully vetted, they will be presented to the property owner for agreement and brought to all of us on the Council for review and discussion, along with anticipated budget.

75th Street - The city is exploring a purchase of property that would allow a private driveway to become a public street, right-of-way, and perhaps an easement which would allow the city to draft an agreement to close the 75th street crossing. The city is working with the same property owner involved with the 73rd street crossing to close the 75th street crossing.

Pool Cover Regulations

Least restrictive requirements pass 4-3

In my February newsletter, I detailed how we voted to address conflicts between our Building Code and zoning regulations by determining a maximum fence height requirement for residential pools. In committee, we voted 5-2 to mandate a 6 ft fence height requirement in the Building Codes and remove pool covers as an alternative for residents who invested tens of thousands of dollars in durable, weight-resistant pool covers (I voted NO along with Councilmember Vaught. Councilmember Meyer was absent). 

When we held our final vote in council on February 22nd, we again debated the merits, considering that most HOAs only mandate 4 ft or 5 ft fences, and our commercial zoning regulations (for neighborhood pools) only require a 5 ft fence. On final action, the 6 ft fence requirement with no exception for pool covers or allowance of a 4 or 5 ft fence for those with pool covers, failed, 4-3, with Councilmember Kemmling changing his vote, voting NO with Councilmember Vaught, Councilmember Meyer, and I. 

Councilmember Vaught then motioned to amend the building code to mandate a 5 foot fence without a pool cover, and a 4 foot fence for homeowners who also had a durable, safety cover in place. That motion passed 4-3 - I voted YES along with Councilmembers Kemmling, Vaught, and Meyer. Councilmembers Pflumm, Jenkins, and Sandifer voted NO. Councilmember Neighbor was absent.

I'm pleased that this less restrictive regulation was approved, aligning our residential pool fence requirements with most HOAs and our commercial requirements, and providing for some flexibility for those homeowners who have invested in safety covers. 

Street & Stormwater Repairs

This year you will notice construction cones and road closings throughout the city as we embark on the largest and most ambitious number of street repairs, curb repairs, and sidewalk maintenance in recent years. Here's a summary of the work that has already started and what you can expect throughout the summer months:

2016 Mill & Overlay Program

Earlier this month, four concrete crews and a storm box crew began replacing curbs, sidewalks, ADA ramps, and storm boxes in western Shawnee, starting just west of Woodland Road.

Street Maintenance Program

In the fall of 2014, nearly 64% of Shawnee voters approved a 10-year, 3/8 cent increase in the sales tax in 2014 (known as the "pavement tax") to repair, rebuild, and upgrade streets, curbs, and sidewalks, as well as initiate a street improvement program. A task force comprised of citizens throughout the city convened last year and prioritized all of the potential projects to be tackled by city crews. Based on those priorities, 48 lane miles of roads will be resurfaced this year, the most ever completed in a single year. An additional 40 lane miles of chip seal and crack seal surface repairs will be completed as well 

Click here to view information on the Street Improvement Task Force's recommendations, criteria for grading roads, and the upcoming street repair projects.

Stormwater Pipe Failures

Our stormwater pipes are aging rapidly as they near their 25 and 30-year lifespans, and recent pipe failures have resulted in emergency repairs, at Holiday Drive near the landfill and at 73rd and Quivira last week, as you probably noticed if you drove down Quivira when traffic was reduced to one lane. These emergency repairs each cost over $1 million dollars, which is why we need to address our aging pipes before they fail and become extremely costly. Currently, 8.5% of our pipes are currently rated by our stormwater manager are in extreme disrepair and need to be replaced as soon as possible, with 23% classified in deteriorating condition - intermediate disrepair. Over the next few months, we will evaluate funding mechanisms to speed up the repairs and attempt to halt any further pipe failures.

Touring RiskIQ with Yoder

Shawnee business continues to expand

From left: RiskIQ VP Jason Zann, Congressman Kevin Yoder, RiskIQ associate, Shawnee City Councilman Brandon Kenig, and RiskIQ consultant Sonny Sinha.

RiskIQ opened their new office in Ward 4 in western Shawnee near K-7 almost one year ago, and already the cybersecurity firm has created 30 jobs right here in our city. With headquarters in San Francisco and a satellite office in London, the Kansas City-based office here in Shawnee centralizes all customer support operations for the company, utilizing a team of programmers, developers, and techs to assist clients from Amsterdam to Tokyo. RiskIQ helps clients as large and diverse as Sony and Facebook identify and correct internet security vulnerabilities that open the door to hackers.

I was pleased to organize a tour of their Shawnee facility in late February with Congressman Kevin Yoder, who discussed his federal Email Privacy Act bill with RiskIQ's Vice President of Platform, Jason Zann, as well as opportunities for RiskIQ to partner with federal agencies to secure federal web properties against cyber threats. The company just moved to the office space next door to accommodate their continued growth. We are fortunate to have a global cybersecurity firm right here in Shawnee.

School Expansions

Shawanoe and Benninghoven buildings

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the grand opening of the new Shawanoe Elementary school near 75th and Quivira, which serves many residents in Ward 4. Shawanoe is also where I attended Kindergarten through 6th grade, and it was very nostalgic to tour the new school. Current grade school children led the tours, and the appreciation for the new space and overall design was apparent. The new school has a gymnasium and stage that is separate from the cafeteria, as well as expanded labs to be shared by classrooms for hands-on learning opportunities.

I also ran into Rep. Linda Gallagher, one of the state legislators who represents part of Ward 4 in Topeka, whom I've known since I was a kid (her daughters attended Shawanoe with my younger sisters).

Last week, I attended the groundbreaking of the new Rhein Benninghoven Elementary building at 67th and Caenen. It as a chilly morning, but the students were energetic and Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Dr. Hinson and SMSD board members spoke about improvements in safety, security, and space that the new building would address. Congressman Kevin Yoder also spoke on the success of the Shawnee Mission School District as a model nationally for education standards and the continued support of parents and taxpayers for district growth through bond measures.

Road Closures & Updates

Traffic on Quivira Road near 73rd Terr., opposite Grace Christian Fellowship Church on one side and Westbrooke Village Shopping Center on the other side, will be reduced to one lane for four weeks for an emergency stormwater piper repair. Repairs and lane reduction began last week.

Mill Creek Bridge in the 19400 block of Wilder Road will be closed for repairs starting April 6th, and will be closed for 30 days.

Lanes on K-7 Highway near 75th Street have been reduced as KDOT completes asphalt resurfacing and installation of a permanent concrete median. Until the project is finished in May, no left-turns will be allowed at K-7 and 75th Street.

Need a speaker for your HOA?

I'm happy to visit and give city updates

Last month, Mayor Distler and I spoke to my home owners association - Seven Hills Farms - at their annual meeting, providing an update on road construction in the city, economic development projects, and recent council votes on codes and ordinances. 

If your HOA annual meeting is approaching and you would like someone to speak to recent city happenings, please let me know. I'd be happy to speak and also arrange to have Mayor Distler speak as well. You can reach out to me directly at or by calling me at 913-548-3297.

  About Brandon

Ward 4 Map

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Upcoming Events

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7:30 pm,
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Citywide Recycling Event 8-11 am, Lee Jeans lot (67th & Lee Drive)
Third Thursdays with the Mayor,
9 am, Civic Centre
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My Recent Travels
Congressional Cities
      Conference, Washington       D.C. (5/5 - 5/9)
State of the County        
       Update, Overland Park,
       Ed Eilert (5/22)

Shawnee Young
       Professionals Spring
       Lunch (5/25)
New Businesses
Congratulations to the following businesses that have have recently opened in Shawnee. Welcome!

Brandon Kenig
Councilmember - Ward IV
City of Shawnee

Copyright © 2016 Brandon Kenig for Shawnee City Council, All rights reserved.

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