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Minutes for HB2168 - Committee on Education

Short Title

Authorizing the state board of regents to sell and convey certain real property in Cherokee, Riley, Saline and Douglas counties on behalf of Kansas state university and the university of Kansas.

Minutes Content for Wed, Mar 13, 2019

Chair Baumgardner opened the hearing on HB2168.

Tamera Lawrence, staff revisor, gave a brief overview of HB2168 as amended by the House.  The legislation would allow Kansas State University to sell the Pecan Experimental Field in Chetopa, Kansas, a small parcel within the North Campus Corridor in Riley County, property on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus that includes the old gym and to allow Kansas University to sell Oldfather Studios in Douglas County.

Dr. Ernie Minton, proponent, explained factors played into the request for approval to sell a pecan farm in Chetopa County.  Among those are the distance between the pecan field and the Manhattan campus, recent staff retirements of local caretakers with no viable options for replacement, and the increasing cost of maintenance.  (Attachment 1)

Senator Braun asked what was the current property value?  Dr. Minton stated the value is unknown.  Senator Braun then questioned whether the Brewster family, donors of the property, agreed to the sale.  Dr. Minton replied it had not been discussed.  Senator Braun asked why there was not an appraisal made by the state? Dr. Minton answered that the estimate was not needed at this time.  Dr. Minton then clarified that part of the property had been purchased outright by the university and part had been donated by a family.  Senator Braun then questioned whether the donated section was to be returned to the family.  Dr. Minton answered at the request of the family all 80 acres was to be sold and would be paid for their share.

Senator Pyle noted that it should not be sold below market value.

Senator Braun questioned whether there would be a harvest prior to the sale.  Dr. Minton answered that nothing was set yet but there was interest in keeping the pecan grove in working order.

Senator Bollier inquired about the current operating costs of pecan field.  Dr. Minton answered by explaining that prior to retirements, salary and operations were costly.  Sen. Bollier asked for comparisons of costs to run versus selling the property.  

Senator Alley asked what has come out of the research that spans 50 years.  Dr. Minton replied due to research there has been advances in management practices and development of the best varieties of pecans.

Jim Modig appeared as a proponent regarding the Oldfather Studio in Lawrence.  He stated following renovation of Summerfield Hall on the university campus the studio was no longer needed.  The property has become costly to maintain and is in poor condition.  He indicated renovation estimates would cost approximately half the value of the property.  (Attachment 2)

Chairperson Baumgardner brought to the committees attention, written testimony by Alysia Starkey, Interim Dean, College of Technology and Aviation, Salina Campus regarding the request to sell an unused gym on the Salina campus.  (Attachment 3)

There being no further conferees, the hearing on HB2168 was closed.

Following reminders regarding the completion of committee work by next week, the meeting was adjourned at 2:03 pm.