St. John City Commissioners unanimously agreed to bow out of joining Stafford County Commissioners in plans to move forward to determine if an industrial port – which would include a rail spur – is a feasible project for the area.


The action was taken at a joint city-county meeting Monday, March 9, at Ida Long Goodman Memorial Library, coordinated by Stafford County Economic Development Director Carolyn Dunn with the full slate of both city council and county commissioners in attendance.


Participants were Stafford County Commissioners Kurt Fairchild, Clayton Grimmett and Todd Wycoff and St. John Mayor Mark Bryant, along with St. John City Council Members Marshal Sanders, Ryan Christie, Esai Macias, Ross Fisher and Kyle Bunker. Stafford County Clerk Nita Keenan was also in attendance.


Commissioner Wycoff said the county is considering projects that would involve a rail spur and were discussing either a grain facility or a warehouse.


“I don’t think we’d be in the business of running it, but it’d be more like building it and renting it,” Wycoff said, adding that county commissioners toured warehouse facilities in Wichita similar to the type they are considering.


Wycoff named three possible locations for an industrial port, identifying them as 1) a site just south of St. John near the corner that Kansas Ag sits on, 2) county-owned Sandyland, two miles south of 52-81 Junction and 3) a location north of Stafford where the Tyson pellet mill had formerly been located.


“They all have pluses,” Wycoff said. “The one in Stafford already has a spur and additional ground is available for purchase.”


“I don’t know how the county and city could work together,” Wycoff said. “I guess if there’s one thing that could come out of this meeting, it’s what could the county and city do together to make one site better than the other site.”


St. John Councilman Macias said he felt that the city’s only interest in providing funding to develop an industrial port would be for the city to provide utilities to the site, which would generate revenue for city coffers, prefacing his vote for the city to not financially participate.


St. John Mayor Bryant and City Council Members Sanders, Christie, Fisher Bunker also voted against city funding.


In opening remarks to the elected officials, Dunn said that, based on the concept that planning is more effective when informed by data, Stafford County Economic Development office is conducting a four-question survey to garner Stafford County citizen input.


She reported that, as of the meeting date, about 150 surveys had been completed, and said the goal is for about 300 responses, which would represent 10 per cent of Stafford County voting population.


The on-line survey may be completed by Stafford County residents age 18 and above on the Stafford County Economic Development website www.staffordecodevo.com. The survey may also be completed on Stafford County Economic Development Facebook site.


Dunn also provided several handouts to the elected officials relating to the survey and other aspects of economic development.


SSC TV Channel 3, under the direction of David Cutright, posted video coverage of the meeting, which may be viewed on the SSC TV YouTube Channel under the heading Special Meeting 03 09 2020.