Rhonda Dunn, Fort Scott’s Community Development Director, has initiated the development of a land bank.
So, what is a Land Bank? Land banks are not financial institutions, according to http://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/LandBankingBasics.pdf
They are public or community-owned entities created for a single purpose: to acquire, manage, maintain, and repurpose vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties –the worst abandoned houses, forgotten buildings, and empty lots. There are approximately 75 communities now operating formal land bank programs across the country. And while land banks are most often associated with communities with large-scale blight and abandonment, many communities now see the benefit of implementing land banking as a means of preventing the contagious blight that can sweep across urban neighborhoods like a plague, infecting house after house until whole blocks – even neighborhoods – become empty and abandoned shadows of their former selves.
In early July 2018, the city commission approved the adoption of Ordinance No. 3535 creating a Land Bank for the City of Fort Scott, approving the Land Bank Manager as Rhonda Dunn, and approving the Land Bank Board of Trustees as the five City Commissioners along with a representation of the Bourbon County Board of Commissioners and a representative from Bourbon County Economic Development Council, Inc.(BCEDI) The expiration terms of the City Commissioners will run consecutively with their term of office. The Bourbon County Commissioner will follow the same term of office.
Following an organizational meeting for the city’s land bank held July 25 at city hall, City Commissioners Jolynne Mitchell was appointed the chairperson, Randy Nichols as vice-chairperson, Cindy Bartlesmeyer as secretary; County Commissioner was appointed Jeff Fischer as treasurer. Steve Buerge is the President of BCEDI and is the member on the board currently but their board can vote and send a different representative if desired, according to city minutes.
The Fort Scott Land Bank Board will meet the first Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m. at city hall, before the regularly scheduled city commission meeting, starting in September.
Dunn asked the board to set a budget recommendation of $30,000 to take to the City Commission. Steve Buerge is matching this amount. Her recommendation of $30,000 is for the demolition of three houses, any mowing assessments, and any legal work needed to be completed on deeds, according to the city minutes.