• Sun. Oct 24th, 2021

City officials answer Heartland Park questions during live blog

ByFrancis Walker

Sep 22, 2021

The NHRA is under contract to continue to hold its annual Kansas Nationals event at Heartland Park Topeka for three more years, provided the city government follows through with its plan to purchase the racing facility, city officials said Thursday while taking part in a live blog at CJOnline.com.

City attorney Chad Sublet, administrative and financial services director Doug Gerber, and communications and marketing director Suzie Gilbert answered questions from the public as part of the event, which began at 11 a.m. and lasted about two hours.

Readers posed queries regarding the Aug. 12 vote by Topeka’s governing body to purchase the financially troubled Heartland Park racing facility and expand its redevelopment district. The purchase is among the steps required to carry out the city’s plan to buy Heartland Park and solve a problem regarding Sales Tax Revenue (STAR) bond debt.

Numerous readers took part in Thursday’s online live blog, which was moderated by CJOnline editor Sherman Smith.

City officials revealed during the live blog that:

— The city has paid no money to Lathrop & Gage, the law firm that looked at the petition on the city’s behalf and concluded it was invalid.

— The request the city plans to put out seeking proposals from anyone interested in managing Heartland Park would require respondents to submit a plan to develop the property, where hundreds of acres are going unused.

— None of the three entities that have expressed an interest to the city in owning or managing Heartland Park is related to the current owner, Ray Irwin’s Jayhawk Racing LLC.

— The city’s plan calls for all expenses to operate Heartland Park to be paid not by the city but by the owner/operator.

— The city as part of the plan would divert $145,000 a year from its general fund for the life of the district, totaling about $1.6 million, toward paying the district’s debt service.

The questions and answers from the live blog can be found below:

Sherman Smith: Have a question for @cityoftopeka about @HeartlandPark? Send them to me. Live blog will run from 11 to 1 cjon.co/1rmMu4L

Sherman Smith: OK, I’m opening the blog a little early so you can start sending questions. If you sent me an email already, I have your question queued up.

Sherman Smith: In case you’re wondering, you don’t need a subscription to read blogs, and you don’t need an account to ask a question.

Sherman Smith: It looks like the city has joined us, as well as Capital-Journal reporter Tim Hrenchir. Who all is with the city this week?

Cityoftopeka: Same three – Suzie Gilbert, Chad Sublet, Doug Gerber.

Tim Hrenchir: Good morning everybody. I’m pleased to be on hand for this opportunity for the public to ask questions and the city to share information.

Sherman Smith: Ted Adams asked in an email that we provide “a synopsis of the whole issue” before we get things going.

Here’s some background:

‒ City council voted in 2006 to issue $10.46 million worth of STAR bonds to finance improvements at Heartland Park. Plans called for those to be paid off using sales tax revenue from the track.

‒ City council voted Aug. 12 to purchase the financially troubled racing facility and expand its redevelopment district. City officials said the acquisition is required to pay off $8 million in outstanding STAR bond debt.

‒ Topekan Chris Imming led a petition driving that appeared to have successfully gained the 2,132 signatures needed to force a citywide vote.

‒ City manager Jim Colson said he would ask a court to rule on the petition’s validity. During last week’s live blog, city officials said a public vote would require a special election that would cost up to $200,000. The city filed its challenge Wednesday.

‒ Councilman Chad Manspeaker this week called on the council to direct the city not to challenge the petition. The council voted twice to reject his motions Tuesday night.

I’ll let the city weigh in with the rest of Adams’ email: “What brought us to this issue in the first place? What happens if the City does buy the track? What happens if they don’t buy it? What are the end result consequences or advantages to the taxpayers, in either case? A brief rundown of all this might clear up most questions in the first place.”

Cityoftopeka: Thanks to everyone who has submitted questions.

Will start with a synopsis: When the City Manager was initially hired, he identified Heartland Park as a growing concern as the revenues from the STAR (Sales Tax Revenue) bond district, as currently constructed, was not meeting (and had never met) the debt associated with the racing facility.

A STAR bond district is simply a geographical area associated with an entertainment venue of some sort. In a STAR bond district, sales taxes being collected by both the City and State within the district are diverted to the City to address STAR bonds issued in relation to the venue. To have a STAR bond district, you must have a plan that is approved by the State of Kansas. In this case, the plan is acquisition of real property, which is the land and racing facility known as Heartland Park Topeka.

Once the City Manager identified Heartland Park as a significant financial issue for the City, conversations began with the State of Kansas to expand the current district. By expanding the district, you expand the amount of State sales tax that can be diverted to the City to address debt associated with Heartland Park. Through months of negotiations, the State agreed to expand the district north from Heartland Park on Topeka Boulevard all the way to Croix. This is a significant expansion of the current district. Based on the existing sales tax being collected, the expanded district will generate $16.4 million in new revenue to the City to address debt service over the next 12 years. Without the expanded district, the City will have an $8 million deficit. This deficit is the result of the current district generating approximately $203,000 in yearly revenue, versus $1 million in yearly debt service.

As stated earlier, to have an expanded district, you must have an approved plan. The only plan the State would approve was the acquisition of Heartland Park by the City of Topeka in a manner that provides the City with clear title to the property. The plan is to issue $5 million in new STAR bonds to acquire the property and pay off the debt associated with the property. By issuing the new STAR bonds it brings the STAR bond debt from approximately $10 million to approximately $15 million. That total amount of debt will be paid by the $16.4 million in new revenue generated by the district.

In the simplest terms, the City is purchasing Heartland Park for $5 million dollars, and in exchange, is receiving $16.4 million dollars in sales tax revenue from the State. The State is willing to do this because they recognize Heartland Park as having a “significant economic impact on the state attracting people inside and outside the State of Kansas.” This economic impact also allows the all Kansans to assist with debt service, rather than just the citizens of Topeka.

This plan is similar to the expansion of the T-Bones STAR bond district to incorporate portions of the legends in Kansas City to address the debt service associated with the construction of the T-Bones stadium. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County purchased the T-Bones Stadium and in exchange the state allowed them to expand the district to increase revenue to address debt service. This is a mechanism that has been used statewide for projects from the salt mine museums in Hutchinson to the NASCAR facility in Kansas City. It is a mechanism that allows for local use of state sales tax dollars to encourage local economic development.

Many people have seen this as the City getting into the racing business which is in no way the plan of the City. To repeat: the City of Topeka has no interest or plans to run a racetrack. The City is in the process of identifying a management group with expertise in the racing industry and the financial ability to effectively manage the track. The City has been contacted by three different entities interested in managing the facility. All three entities have expertise in racing and the financial ability to manage the facility. The selection will go through a public and competitive Request for Proposal process and the best organization will be identified by a committee of internal and external experts in racing, finance, and entertainment venues.

One of the most exciting aspects of this plan is that the NHRA has committed to continuing its relationship with Heartland Park for an additional 3 years if the STAR bond plan is completed. They have also committed to devoting their extensive marketing and promotional department to assist in making sure the event is as successful as possible. The ability to identify a first class organization to manage Heartland Park and garner $16.4 million in new revenue for the City to address debt service with the full support of the NHRA is a unique and exciting opportunity for the City.

Drjpeterson10: The biggest event held every year at Heartland Park in the NHRA event is held around Memorial Day. Is there any signed commitment from NHRA that they will continue this event in 2015 or in the future?

Cityoftopeka: Yes, we have a signed contract from NHRA to continue their current commitment to Heartland Park for three more years. The contract is contingent on the current STAR bond plan being executed.

Sherman Smith: In case you’re wondering, we submitted some of these emailed questions to the city in advance to try to speed things along this week.

Sherman Smith: What happens if Topeka does not issue additional bonds on HPT?

Cityoftopeka: CoreFirst will most likely foreclose on the property and the property will be sold pursuant to foreclosure. The foreclosure by CoreFirst would most likely be a long, protracted process and might result in substantial additional litigation. The district would not be expanded creating an $8 million deficit in the City budget. If the current plan put forth is executed, the STAR bond district will be expanded, and $16.4 million in state sales taxes will be allocated to the City to address the STAR bond debt associated with Heartland Park. The $16.4 million is not a tax increase, it is simply taking sales tax money currently being collected by the state and diverting it to the City.

Sherman Smith: When Heartland Park was first constructed Topeka spent $7 million on it. What did we purchase?

Cityoftopeka: In 1988, Lario Enterprises deeded the land commonly known as Heartland Park to the City. The City issued $7.5 million in general obligation bonds for improvements and construction on the land.

Keith: Who approved soliciting the opinion of Lathrop and Gage on the validity of the petition to vote concerning Heartland Park? What day was the approval? How much did the opinion cost?

City of Topeka: The opinion of Lathrop in Gage has approved administratively on October 2, 2014. The opinion was originally given on October 14, 2014, and no payment was made for the opinion. As Mr. Imming stated in his public comments to the Council, it is the responsible thing to do and the right thing to do to protect the validity of any ballot measure.

Keith: If/When the city sells the track, will the STAR bond district end earlier, since the city will have been reimbursed for the expenditure of buying the track and should be able to pay down that debt?

Cityoftopeka: The STAR bond district will collapse once the debt service has been paid related to Heartland Park.

Keith: Why all the hand wringing over the loss of revenue for the area from Heartland Park? It has been stated repeatedly that the economic impact of Heartland Park is $160M. Comparing that to the GDP for the Topeka area of $7.5B (excluding government functions) it seems the value of the track is minimal compared to the money spent to keep it operational.

Cityoftopeka: By expanding the District, the City will receive $16.4 million in new sales tax revenue to address the debt service associated with Heartland Park. If the district is not expanded, it will create an $8 million deficit in the budget that must be addressed through either cut in City services or an increase in taxes and fees. There is no plan for the City to be involved in operations or operational costs of the track. The $160 million is money spent at local retail establishments, restaurants, and hotels.

Keith: Has the City made public all annual reports to the Secretary of Commerce required by KSA 12-17, 169 (c)?

Cityoftopeka: Yes, they are all public documents.

Anonymous: What is the average cost to operate the track over the past 3 years?

Cityoftopeka: That will be the focus of the new operator/owner of the track, who will bear those costs.

Guest Person: Does the city think Heartland Park Topeka will pass if put to a public vote?

Cityoftopeka: We are confident in the plan that we’ve put forth, but we aren’t going to speculate.

Polisanity: As reported in a recent CJOnline article, Attorney Sublet suggested that the city might continue to own the track and let an operator manage it. Is this correct? What expenses are possible for taxpayers to be responsible to pay if it is managed by an outside entity (improvements, maintenance, operating expenses?)

Cityoftopeka: That is an option. Our plan includes all those expenses being paid by the new owner/operator.

L.N.: 1) At http://www.topeka.org/HPT/f…, the City says: “Expanding the STAR Bond district simply means the State’s portion of the taxes levied on the properties in the district will be reallocated to the City. The deal will not raise taxes or create any new ones for anyone.” That’s inaccurate, is it not, since the State levies no taxes on the properties in the district but, rather, it’s the State’s portion of the retail sales tax assessed and collected that would be diverted to the ownership of the City?

CityofTopeka: You are correct. The State levies no property taxes, and we can see how that answer could be interpreted as referencing a property tax, not a sales tax. Sorry for the confusion. The $16.4 million in sales tax collections would be diverted from the State to the City to address debt service.

L.N.: 2) On what basis were the new boundaries of the expanded project plan determined and does there exist a detailed report to supplement the “Expanded District Financials” posted at http://www.topeka.org/pdfs/… ?

Cityoftopeka: The boundaries were developed through a year-long negotiation with the State of Kansas.

L.N.: 3) Why was the project plan not expanded even further or wider in order to obtain a greater amount of sales tax collected and reduce the duration of the STAR bond amortization?

Cityoftopeka: The State has to approve of the district. There was a significant amount of negotiation between the City and the State related to the District and the final district is the result of those negotiations.

L.N.: 4) While it’s been reported that contracting for the management of HPT and/or the sale of HPT would be subject to a request for proposal process, has the City Council established either a committee devoted to this undertaking or does the City have a contingency plan in the event nobody wants either to contract to manage it or buy it?

Cityoftopeka: The City Manager has put together a team of professionals both internally and externally to review the RFP process. Once we have a judicial determination regarding the petition, the RFP process will move forward. Three separate entities have come forward expressing significant interest in managing or purchasing the property. The City has no plans to manage the property.

Bob: Who are the 3 entities that are looking to run the facility?

Cityoftopeka: Public RFP process will start soon. As with any RFP, our policy is to not release the names before the conclusion of the process. Helps ensure a fair, competitive process.

Polisanity: Are any of the 3 entities related at all to the current ownership group?

Cityoftopeka: No.

Mike Cline: It seems to many that the City is bailing out Core first Bank and the guy running Heartland Park now. How can the City argue it is not doing that?

Cityoftopeka: The City is working to protect our best financial interest through the acquisition of real property. Without the acquisition, we are left with an $8M deficit in our budget, and we lose the opportunity to gain $16.4M in-state sales tax revenue.

Anonymous: What is plan B if the ‘new’ owner/operators fail to make enough to cover payment of STAR bonds Again!

Cityoftopeka: The $16.4M is based on *current performance. If HPT performs at its current level, we will still generate the $16.4M. That number is based on actual numbers in the proposed district and is largely unrelated to the performance of HPT.

Traumaemt: This is a follow-up question from Polisanity. With the city being owners of the property, even if the new managers are supposed to cover all of the expenses, as owners of HPT, the CoT (and the taxpayers by proxy) would have liability for expenses as well. How does the CoT plan to cover those expenses?

Cityoftopeka: That is not accurate. The operational costs and any costs associated with HPT will be specified in the lease agreement. Additionally, performance mechanisms will be in place that the new management company would have to meet. If they fail to meet the terms of the new contract, then they would be liable for those expenses.

Richard Eater: While Mr. Sublet was not able to provide advice to Mr. Imming, why did he and Mr. Eckert not let their opinions be known so the petition could be fixed before all that hard work was put in to get the sigs?

Cityoftopeka: The City properly notified the County of the issues, and publicly stated what the issues were (the article was printed in CJ on Aug. 12). The County has the statutory obligation to issue an advisory opinion on the validity of the petition.

Ross Barton: What area of Topeka does the race track district cover? Sales tax due to HPT events benefits many parts of Topeka, right?

Cityoftopeka: Maps of proposed expanded STAR bond district posted at topeka.org/HPT.

Anonymous: Since there seems to be so much interest in this, why don’t our TV stations provide a “live” call-in, which would enable us to answer more questions, since blogging is so time-consuming, or is that the purpose of blogging by the city (keeps questions to a minimum)

Sherman Smith: While the city is answering that question, I’ll respond to a couple of assumptions here. We invited the city to participate in these live blogs, and we are grateful for the amount of time they have dedicated to answering questions and responding to criticism.

Cityoftopeka: We will embrace any opportunity to answer questions.

Holden Mahnutz: The City Manager made a statement on TV in reference to development on the property adjacent to HPT. He alludes to a plan about the future development, maybe if that was shared with the citizens it would be easier for the residents to accept

Cityoftopeka: Thank you for your question. We don’t recall him saying that. Can you give any additional details on that statement so we can better answer?

Cityoftopeka: As part of the RFP process, we are going to require the management company to propose a plan for development of the 700 acres.

Matthew: Why was Lathrop chosen? Do they represent any of the parties involved in Heartland Park?

Cityoftopeka: Lathrop & Gage were chosen because they have provided opinions on petitions throughout the state in the past. At the time they issued the opinion, they did not represent any parties involved.

Guest: Hypothetically, let’s say the city does not sell the track but hires someone to manage it for them. How much property tax revenue will be lost because the track is publicly owned instead of privately owned? Will the taxpayers be picking up the tab for that?

Cityoftopeka: The property is currently publicly owned. Property tax is currently only paid on two parcels. This generated approx. $500 in the most recent tax year.

Guest: Has the city learned any public relations lessons over this experience? Mr. Sublet may have been filling his statutory requirements but it seems the city has taken a black eye over the perception of wasted time. It seems the only thing the city did “wrong” was to not be helpful.

Cityoftopeka: We have laid out the plan publicly several times. Again, we embrace any opportunity to answer questions and build trust. In every step of this process, City leaders have been operating in the best interest of the City of Topeka.

Anonymous: Chad Sublet, you are an employee of the city. That means you are paid by the taxpayers. You are all paid by the taxpayers. Clearly enough signatures were gathered. Is it not your duty to abide by your bosses wishes, the taxpayers of Topeka? Do you believe that just contacting Eckert absolves you of any responsibility to your bosses? How can you say you served the citizens of Topeka by complacently allowing the charade to continue?

Cityoftopeka: The City Attorney represents the municipal government of the City of Topeka, meaning the Mayor, City Council, & City Manager. It is the County Counselor’s statutory obligation to approve the petition.

Holden Mahnutz: As an operator/manager why would they be required to develop 700 acres. Most track operators are not developers

Cityoftopeka: We want the property and track to achieve the highest level of success possible. Additional development and enhancements would only serve to further promote Heartland Park as a statewide entertainment destination.

Sherman Smith: We have a couple of questions relating to the shape of facilities at HPT and potential repairs. This email is from Sharon: When I worked for the Topeka Chamber from 2005-2008, I became aware of the need for water and sewer improvements at Heartland Park Topeka; i.e., bottled water was used for drinking water because of the bad-tasting tap water, and portable toilets were needed for heavy race days because the sewer lines couldn’t accommodate the large crowds. Federal appropriations were sought for water and sewer improvements with no success during my stint there. What water and sewer infrastructure improvements have been made to HPT since 2008? What remains to be done—especially with sewer infrastructure—to assure compliance with the federal Clean Water Act?

CityofTopeka: In the City of Topeka’s annual report to the Department of Commerce, the following infrastructure projects have been completed:

‒ All roads on the property have been properly repaired

‒ Excavation

‒ City water and pump station construction

‒ Associated architectural, engineering and excavation work

Earl: I’ve heard there are lots of updates that need to be made at the track? and that the facilities are in bad shape? If that is true what is the estimated cost to bring the track up to par? And who will be paying for those repairs/updates?

Cityoftopeka: That is not accurate. We have a recent report (after the last race) from NHRA that has a favorable analysis of the condition of the track. The drag strip needed no improvements. As of August 5, 2014, the following projects that were previously incomplete have been completed:

Track asphalt replacement

Landscaping and beautification

Paddock lighting, PA system and TELCO system

Project Soft costs

Road repair

Tower improvements and fan amenities

RV and Camping amenities

Matthew: Why was Lathrop chosen? Do they represent any of the parties involved in Heartland Park?

Cityoftopeka: We have retained Lathrop & Gage to represent the City in helping determine the validity of the petition. Chris Imming (the petitioner) said publicly on Tuesday night that the City is doing the right and responsible thing by proceeding in this manner.

Ross Barton: I recently read that the economic impact of HPT is about $160 million per year. If that is correct, we can’t afford to lose it. Is that figure correct?

Sharon Boranyak: Where does HPT get that $160 million economic impact estimate? Surely that can’t be an ANNUAL estimate. The City of Portland Parks and Rec department owns and operates Portland International Raceway, which its website claims brings an annual economic impact of $45 million with 650 events a year and 400,000 visitors annually. Why does HPT claim a much higher economic impact when the City of Portland racing facility has MORE EVENTS and BETTER ATTENDANCE than HPT?

Cityoftopeka: The report we are referencing was done by an independent 3rd party, Hedges & Company. It was not done on the City’s behalf.

Zorak: 1) How much sales tax revenue would be lost to the city (over the same 12 years that the state’s $16.4 million number is calculated) by the expansion of the district? 2) Is the city going to reduce expenditures to be in line with the reduced sales tax revenue or will it increase property taxes or fees to make up the difference, noting that with increased property values, a mill levy that remains the same is still an increase in taxes.

Cityoftopeka: The City would divert an average of $145-thousand per year for the life of the district (11 years – not 12) from the general fund. It would go toward paying the debt service. Taking this approach allows us to take advantage of $16.4M from the State of Kansas. If the STAR bond district is not expanded, it will cost the City $8M over the life of the district, which is substantially higher than the $145-thousand per year.

Curious: How much did all those enhancements you listed cost us and where did funds come from – how much of it has been done in order to sell it. If you have 3 people interested – what are they waiting for, left them buy it NOW.

Cityoftopeka: Funds came from the 2005 STAR bond issuance, 2006 general obligation bonds, as well as private funds, as required by the STAR Bonds statute.

Earl: In addition to the facility repairs. I’ve heard several people complain of the high cost of attending a race. If you wanted to bring a family of let say four your out several hundred dollars! Tickets, food, souvenirs, travel and other expenses. With the high cost of living and inflation most people can’t afford to attend races anymore. If you own a home in Topeka you should either get in free or a reduced price! Can that be worked in the deal? It needs to be made more affordable

Cityoftopeka: Prices are set contractually by the governing bodies of the racing industry.

Guest: If the city ants the manager/operator to deveop the land for retail nd entertainment basically a Legends westwould that mean that these buidings will be city owned. Having been around the motorsprts industry for a day or two, this is a new twist required for a manager/promoter

Cityoftopeka: Any new development/enhancements would not be City owned. Specific requirements will be listed in the RFP.

Joe: By late Aug. / early Sept. the city knew there was a challenge to the star bond issue. At that time, why didn’t they have the question added to the Nov. 4 ballot? I was one of the people collecting signatures for the petition. I collected 100 signatures and had only 5 people turn me down. Based on that fact, I question the city’s sense of confidence.

Cityoftopeka: We were told by the County that in order to place a question on the ballot, they needed 90 days notice. Additionally, the petition had not been received by the City, so there was no statutory mechanism to hold a valid election.

Traumaemt: But as owners of HPT, wouldn’t the CoT be able to be sued, along with the management company, if any lawsuits be levied against HPT for any accidents or injuries that happen, and not just from racers, but from spectators or any other people that are on the property?

Cityoftopeka: The RFP will require the management company to have insurance to sufficiently cover any incidents. The management company will also have to agree to hold the City harmless and indemnify the City for any actions allowable by law.

Guest: Why is the current owner not selling it to another track operator, and instead to the city so that it can buy and resell? In other words, If it is a valuable and worthwhile investment for someone else why isn’t the track publicly for sale, now?

Cityoftopeka: The current operator is contractually bound under the memorandum of understanding, to follow through with the STAR bond process, as is the City. If the property were sold outside of that agreement, the City would not be able to expand the district and receive the $16.4M in state sales tax revenue.

Ross Barton: It appears it will cost us more to close the track and pay the bonds than it would to keep it open. True?

Cityoftopeka: True.

Dubious: Again I ask when was the first time Colson contacted any and all attorneys re the petition? Why did he have to go out of the city? It looks to me like the city is now picking and choosing which questions to answer.

Sherman Smith: I’m actually doing the picking and choosing. I think the city has already answered these questions, but perhaps they can recap the process.

Sherman

Cityoftopeka: We contacted Lathrop & Gage because they have experience with these issues, and we wanted a neutral party to evaluate the petition.

Guest: So, if the city doesn’t buy the track, it is closing? That is the only option?

Cityoftopeka: CoreFirst will foreclose on the property and the property will be sold pursuant to foreclosure. The foreclosure by CoreFirst would most likely be a long, protracted process and might result in substantial additional litigation.

Guest: So, would the city need the additional STAR bond revenue regardless of ownership? If the current owner remained as is, the city needs the expanded revenue district?

Cityoftopeka: Yes. And the State has been clear that the district will not be expanded if the current operator remains.

Guest: Will the new owners get the same no risk deal as the owner now gets and get baled out too?

Cityoftopeka: The City intends to protect our interests as we most forward with this project. The current operator does not have a no-risk deal.

C cordero: Why should the people of Topeka trust you when you have tried so hard to silence their voice?

Cityoftopeka: Our effort is to ensure the validity and integrity of the petition and election process. Chris Imming himself said the City is acting responsibly by proceeding in this manner.

Jennifer: What happens if this does proceed and say in two years the track fails or starts performing even worse than it is now?

Cityoftopeka: The operator will have to meet certain performance obligations, contractually. Any deal we enter into will protect the best interests of the City.

Guest: OK, What exactly will the revenue pay for? That is not clear. Maintenance, operations? Is the track not profitable without this additional revenue?

Cityoftopeka: The revenue will go to pay the debt service associated with Heartland Park.

Sherman Smith: It looks like we’re at the end of our allotted timespan. Thanks again to the city for taking part, and thanks to everyone for submitting their questions.

Cityoftopeka: Thank you, Sherman. Thanks to everyone for submitting questions, and thanks to the Capital-Journal for this opportunity. We want to point out that we have made every attempt to answer questions and inform the public of this plan, and will continue to going forward. Efforts have included several interviews and articles in the Topeka Capital-Journal, on WIBW-TV, KSNT, WIBW Radio; we have spoken at public meetings and civic groups; we have had public discussions at City Council meetings in June, August, and October; public discussions at the County in August; answered questions on both blogs and online forums, including Mindmixer; and posted information and related documents on the City’s website, www.topeka.org/HPT.

Sherman Smith: That seems like a good note to end on. We’ll plan to have a recap in tomorrow’s paper.

Contact Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.

Hello reader, our article commenting that you would normally see here is temporarily shut down. We still want to hear from you, so we invite you to go to our Facebook page or submit a letter to the editor.