PITTSBURG — Last week, the Morning Sun reported on a Frontenac City Council meeting, in which the council approved taking legal action against the City of Pittsburg over a disputed section of road in the area of the Pittsburg Highlands housing development.
At Tuesday’s Pittsburg City Commission meeting, Commissioner Dawn McNay read a statement during the meeting’s public comment period, saying it was “important to provide a more representative picture of the interaction with Frontenac city leadership in regards to improvement of the existing approach to the right of way from Wild Berry Road to Atkinson at the onset of our meeting given the recent media coverage.”
The road in question — which is actually named Wild Red Road — was paved by the City of Pittsburg last year.
On Wednesday, the City of Pittsburg released a statement about the issue, which also referenced McNay’s Tuesday statement.
“On Monday, July 1, Frontenac City Council approved legal action against the City of Pittsburg over the construction of an 85-foot concrete approach connecting Wild Red Road to Atkinson Avenue,” the statement said. “Approximately 55 feet of the approach resides within the Frontenac city limits. Frontenac officials approved litigation despite Pittsburg’s offer to resolve the issue with a formal agreement.”
In response to a question from Commissioner Chuck Munsell later in the meeting, Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall said he did not think it was necessary to inform the commission that the city was doing the roadwork last year.
“I didn’t see the need to notify you for doing it,” Hall said. “It was a common project. It was a contractor we always use. It was a contract that you’ve already voted on. You approved the expenditure in December, whether you read the bills or not, it was before you. We don’t traditionally bring these to you, and quite frankly, as I’ve said numerous times, the staff never thought there would be any point. I didn’t contact you when we fixed the sewer main in Frontenac. We don’t notify you every time we salt or sand the road in Frontenac. I don’t notify you every time we stripe the road in Frontenac, and I definitely didn’t see any need to notify you when we put concrete on an approach that serves 20 homes right in front of the city line.”
Munsell also asked City Attorney Henry Menghini what his advice would have been regarding the issue and whether the city should pave the approach or not because of the possibility of a legal issue.
Menghini said he didn’t think an open meeting would be the appropriate time to discuss the issue, as it might be considered privileged information in the attorney-client relationship.
Aside from regularly scheduled city council and city commission meetings, Frontenac and Pittsburg officials have previously discussed the disputed section of Wild Red Road in at least one other meeting, which was referenced by McNay in her statement Tuesday.
In her statement, McNay said she was “somewhat perplexed that at the Frontenac City Commission meeting their City Attorney was given great latitude to provide his interpretation of the shared meeting, questionable legal advice and a false narrative as to the reasons for improving the right of way.”
McNay’s statement also referenced several examples of what she described as “false narrative from Frontenac meeting as reported by the Morning Sun.”
These included that a proposed agreement between the two cities would be “an illegal agreement,” that the developer “and now Pittsburg should remove the road,” and that a traffic study and stormwater study were not done for the road. “The new storm water pipe is in Pittsburg, not Frontenac,” McNay wrote in her statement. “There is no impact to Frontenac.”
McNay’s statement also said it was important that Frontenac’s city attorney mentioned last week that they are not receiving property tax money from the housing development served by the approach paved by Pittsburg last year.
“This was one reason Pittsburg did not ask them to pay for their share of the improvement,” McNay noted in her statement. “It did not seem appropriate. We never considered they would view this improvement a [sic] harmful in any way.”
This seemed to echo an earlier statement from City Manager Hall, who said in a report that aired earlier this week on KOAM News Now that “it would have been a little obnoxious” to ask Frontenac “help us pay for” paving the approach.
McNay’s statement also disputed that Pittsburg “has a sense of entitlement,” which was alleged by Frontenac City Attorney Tim Fielder last week when he also said that there was “no sense of wrongdoing on Pittsburg’s part” regarding the Wild Red Road dispute.
Hall said Tuesday he was “not trying to point a finger at Frontenac, I am completely confused by their reaction.”
McNay’s statement additionally disputed that the approach was dangerous. Mayor Patrick O’Bryan also questioned that the section of road was dangerous, pointing out that Frontenac City Attorney Fielder is an attorney.
“He’s not a friggin’ engineer,” O’Bryan said. “We had two engineers look at this and they said we didn’t need to do any kind of study.”
O’Bryan also discussed this newspaper’s coverage of Frontenac’s approval of legal action against Pittsburg last week.
“This issue was so extensively covered by the Morning Sun, and they were so gracious to give the City of Pittsburg two paragraphs at the end of it,” O’Bryan said.
O’Bryan said McNay should read her list of examples of the “false narrative,” which McNay had not done in partially reading her statement at the meeting. McNay did not proceed to read the list but provided a copy of her full statement to the Morning Sun, which has been summarized in this article.
The Morning Sun reached out to the City of Pittsburg last week for comment for the article about Frontenac’s approval of legal action against the city, and published a statement from Pittsburg Deputy City Manager Jay Byers in full. A call Wednesday to the City of Frontenac was directed to City Attorney Fielder, who could not be reached by press time.