Will Derby bite on the new dinosaur park?

A parent and child have fun with an animatronic dinosaur at a New Jersey dinosaur park. Derby citizens can voice their opinion at a public hearing on July 12 as to whether Derby should approve the STAR bond project.

A pivotal date, July 12, is looming in Derby’s future.

That’s when the public hearing on what direction the city is headed on a proposed $159 million development project consisting of a dinosaur park, medical facility and restaurant and retail outlets takes place.

The issue at hand involves considering $23.9 million in STAR, or Sales Tax and Revenue bonds, which are the project’s heart. Without the bonds, the project doesn’t happen.

Not unlike a marriage proposal, this is a major decision about the future. And like any permanent relationship, there are serious questions that need to be asked.

As City Manager Kathy Sexton put it: “This is a big project and will mean a great deal to Derby’s future.”

The hearing itself is part of the regular meeting of the Derby City Council and the issue will be the first item on the agenda after the session starts at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 611 Mulberry.

Before the meeting, citizens may sign up to speak and each will be given up to five minutes to do so.

Those who can’t make the meeting may contact their council member or city officials to let their opinion be known, Sexton said.

“Most certainly anyone with questions or concerns about the project should do so,” she said. “All voices are welcome to participate in their city government.”

The previous hearing on the subject had people speak for and against it.

So what will happen after more voices are heard? That’s the unknown right now.

It’s possible the council could vote on moving it forward. It’s also possible members say they need more time to mull over the thoughts expressed – which is not uncommon among governing bodies – and move the matter to a future meeting. The issue could then come back at the July 26 meeting, or even later.

But an up or down vote by the council is needed as it’s the powerbroker as to whether to send the matter on to the Kansas Department of Commerce to consider the STAR bonds. The KDOC then considers them, and if it approves them, the issue comes back to council to issue the bonds.

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