Pratt city commissioners consider history, plan for the future.

Pratt Tribune staff

Real estate issues topped the agenda of the Pratt City Commission Monday, October 7 as they considered information about the historic VFW building at 701 E. First Street, and  mulled over a proposal for a Planned Unit Development District (PUD) at the Sandy Creek Subdivision in the northeast sector of town.
Pratt businessman Bob Blasi told commissioners it was time for the century-old Veterans of Foreign Wars structure to be taken down to make way for something better. The structure, which is registered on the Kansas Historical Register, has seen several change of hands since it was sold by the local VFW almost two decades ago. Blasi and partner Kenny Roberts bought at the building/property at auction last March.
Blasi told commissioners that, before the auction, he contacted the State of Kansas Historical Board and said he was very blunt that the intent of purchase was to tear the building down.
“I asked two questions at that time,” Blasi said. “Number one, is it possible? And Number two, will I live long enough to get the paperwork through?”
Blasi said he was informed it was actually easier to demolish an historic structure than it is to make additions or remodel and that his only requirement was to get a demo permit and send it in and the state would take it off their list.
Following the instructions he was given, Blasi said he approached City Building Inspector Brad Blankenship, who issued a demo permit, which Blasi said he mailed to Topeka.
“And then they contacted me and said, ‘Well, we kind of got the cart ahead of us. You’ve got to get it voted on first.’ That’s why I’m here tonight,” Blasi said.
Commissioner Don Peters asked if there were any remaining historic items in the building that could be taken out for display at the B29 Museum at Pratt Airport and Blasi said he had been contacted by George Stevens who told him there were some items they would like to have.
“And, I said, ‘Help yourself,’” Blasi said.
City Attorney Regina Probst outlined legal requirements regarding demolition of registered historic properties and advised commissioners against an immediate vote.
Commissioners Zach Deeds, Jason Leslie and Gary Schmidt, along with Meyer and Peters, agreed with Probst’s recommendation. It was noted that the final say on the matter is up to the Kansas State Historical Society.
“I understand you have to do your due diligence and make sure everything’s proper,” Blasi said.
A real estate issue dealing with future developments was broached by Pratt real estate developer and former city commissioner Eric Nystrom, who proposed the idea of a Planned Unit Development District (PUD) at the city-owned Sandy Creek Subdivision in the northeast sector of town.
“This is a little premature,” Nystrom said. “But, I have been approached by several residents expressing interest in the concept that has become known as patio homes, designed to appeal to retirees, who desire to own their homes, but want to leave yard care and home maintenance, such as roofing and other issues, to a Home Owners Association that would take on that responsibility.”
No action was taken by commissioners, but Meyer said he didn’t sense any opposition.
In other business, Meyer announced that applications for the city manager position will be accepted through October 31.