Suburban Scene, Feb. 16 - Omaha.com
Published Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 1:30 am / Updated at 1:35 am
Suburban Scene, Feb. 16

Bellevue OKs seeking contract for hotel, conference center

The City of Bellevue took a step toward approving a 124-room Marriott Courtyard hotel and adjoining conference center.

The City Council voted 6-0 to pursue a contract for the construction of the complex. Later this month, it will vote on a land purchase, management operation deal, and design and construction agreements.

The $14 million hotel and $8 million conference center would be in the Twin Creek area near 36th Street and Highway 370, directly west of the Culver’s restaurant and north of the Marcus Theater.

The city would fund the conference center through a bond issue, and the Iowa-based Kinseth Hospitality would operate it under contract with the city. Kinseth would build the hotel.

“We think that Bellevue very much needs a conference center and needs a banquet center that can accommodate all the needs of the people in the city,” said Bruce Kinseth, Kinseth vice president.

Council member Carol Blood said the encouraging revenue projections provided by Kinseth were understated. “I think you’ve lowballed us when it comes to the actual financial benefits for Bellevue,” she told the company.

Council President Kathy Saniuk said she is confident that new sales, property and lodging taxes will be sufficient to retire bonds the city agrees to issue.

Leakage, possible sinkhole close Sorenson Pool for year

Concerns about leaking pool water and potential for a sinkhole led Bellevue city staff to recommend that Sorenson Pool be closed for the year.

City Parks Director Mike Francis said Sorenson leaks 8,500 gallons of water daily, about twice as much as any of the city’s four other pools.

Public Works Director Jeff Roberts told the City Council that the water might be draining through broken seals and collecting, which could cause a cave-in.

The city has weighed closing a pool because of budgetary constraints.

Councilman Steve Carmichael urged that tests be conducted promptly and the pool reopened if safe.

Springfield Platteview board narrows down bond proposal

The Springfield Platteview Community Schools board is getting a good sense of what to include in its next bond proposal.

Of six possible packages presented by consultant DLR Group, the board leaned toward a $24.9 million plan for work at Springfield and Westmont Elementary Schools and remodeling Platteview Central Junior High and Platteview High School.

In November, voters rejected a $35.7 million bond issue.

Board Vice President Brian Wichman pushed for the lowest possible bond issue, maintaining that people would vote solely on the cost and not the content. He advocated a $19.3 million option.

“I’m just saying what I think the public will pass,” he said. “I think $19 (million) to $20 million is the magic number.”

That seemed to surprise Board President Brenda Sherman.

“Really?” she asked. “You’d go down that low? And do it again?”

Superintendent Brett Richards said a $24.9 million bond would mean an increase of about $250 per year for the owner of a property valued for tax purposes at $150,000.

Richards said the district is in good shape to have a proposal ready by the March 1 submission deadline to the Sarpy County Election Commission for the May 13 primary. The board could vote on a proposal Feb. 24.

Potential Bellevue firefighters will face tests, not interview

Beset by controversy over who would conduct one-on-one interviews with potential firefighters, the Bellevue Civil Service Commission has voted to scrap the plan.

Firefighters now will be hired on the basis of an agility test and two written tests.

The 30 top candidates will be interviewed by Fire Chief Perry Guido and City Administrator Dan Berlowitz, who have the final say on any hire. The tests will be conducted by the Bellevue Fire Department.

La Vista West raises funds for playground equipment

La Vista West Elementary hopes to celebrate its 50th birthday with a new playground.

Students, staff, PTO members and Principal Lisa Wood have kicked fundraising into high gear for the equipment, which would create a second playground at the school. They have raised $10,000 of the $25,000 needed for the project.

“It’s a lofty goal to raise that much money in a year,” Wood said. “The PTO has done a great job of doing a big task in a short time.”

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