Overland Park & Leawood

Leawood council OKs $42 million storm water project

City Council member Steven Kaster, who represents Ward 2, said he is leaving Leawood for a job in Dallas.
City Council member Steven Kaster, who represents Ward 2, said he is leaving Leawood for a job in Dallas.

Corrugated metal pipes that are rusting beneath Leawood will be replaced as part of a $42 million storm water drainage improvement project that won unanimous approval Monday from the City Council.

The council voted to authorize the drainage improvements and issue general obligation bonds to pay for them. The metal pipes will be replaced with concrete pipes with a life expectancy of 75 to 100 years.

The project will be done in phases over 25 years at a budget of $3 million every other year until completion. The first phase will begin construction in 2018, with preliminary engineering in 2017. Total costs are not to exceed $42 million plus interest and financing costs.

Councilman James Azeltine said he thought the ordinance was a testament to the city’s budgeting process.

“For most cities of our size, this would mean an automatic mill levy,” Azeltine said. “This is going to have virtually no effect on our budgeting in the foreseeable future. There’s not very many cities that can do that.”

City Administrator Scott Lambers said most of the corrugated metal storm water pipes are in the central part of the city, but the pipes in the worst condition would be addressed first.

In addition to increasing the system’s capacity to handle storm water runoff, the project will replace culverts under roadways and improve grading, fencing and landscaping.

Also Monday, Steven Kaster announced to the mayor and council that he would not seek to hold onto his seat as Ward 2 council member.

“I’ve accepted a position as a hospital executive in Dallas, Texas, and will relocate there this summer,” Kaster said.

Kaster joined the council in September 2016 after he was selected to finish the remainder of Louis Rasmussen’s term. Rasmussen stepped down mid-term after 26 years of representing Ward 2.

The seat will be up for election along with three other seats in November. Leawood is served by a mayor and eight council members, two from each ward.

Mayor Peggy Dunn said Kaster will hold his seat for as long as he can before his move. Kaster, a physician, has resided in Leawood for 21 years.

“Although my time on the council has been brief, I thoroughly enjoyed being part of an amazing group of council members who are deeply committed to the city and to the welfare of its citizens,” Kaster said. “I’ve also enjoyed working with a tremendous team of city staffers who also share this deep commitment to Leawood.”

In other news, construction on Roe Avenue is expected to be completed by the end of May. Joe Johnson, public works director, said the timeline is dependent on the weather, but he expects work to finish and all lanes to reopen by then.

Roe Avenue has undergone street, curb, storm water, and lighting improvements since the end of February. The work has reduced Roe to one lane of traffic with open lanes alternating throughout the project.