Markley: Housing is No. 1
Marion farmer and rancher Darvin Markley, 62, said the most important issue facing Marion is housing.
There are two housing issues that need to be addressed, he said.
“For one thing, we’re short on housing,” Markley said.
He’d like to see more three- and four-bedroom houses developed.
“I think we need to look on the state level for grants and such,” he said of funding more housing.
He also thinks the city should find ways to maintain existing housing and help residents who need assistance with repairing their homes.
The next issue he wants to tackle is industry.
“We need to keep businesses up,” Markley said.
The city should be looking out for businesses that want to expand, even it’s as few as 35 to 40 jobs they will bring to Marion, and do what it can to entice them.
That said, he does not approve of the way a proposed sale of industrial park property to a dollar store was recently handled.
“One thing would have been to make sure it was placed in a properly-placed area,” Markley said. “I’d look in the zoning books.”
The piece of land the city planned to sell was a reserved area.
Electrical and water system upgrades are needed, and under the city’s contract with its lender for water line improvements, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the loan must be paid from revenues of base rates.
“I think it would still be possible to go into some of our funds to pay into this,” Markley said.
He believes a sales tax enacted 20 years ago for development of Marion’s industrial park could help pay for electrical system work.
“That’s for economic development,” Markley said.
Markley believes it is possible to make cuts out of the city’s general fund.
Asked what grades he would give if he gave report cards to city officials, he’d give a poor grade to city administrator Roger Holter.
“I’d probably give him a grade of D+,” he said. “I don’t believe he’s open enough with information and bringing all the information to the council.”
Markley added that he wonders why the city has been short on employees these past three years, and he wonders why Holter is not bringing employees in.
Existing employees, though, are doing a good job with what they have to work with, Markley said.
He said the most important thing he’d bring to the council is information.
“So they can make the most informed decision that can possibly be made,” Markley said.
He would also bring more issues to the table.
“I’ve been in this community for several years now,” he said. “I’ve seen how things used to be run and I see how they are run now.”
He also has served on numerous community boards, including planning and zoning.
“I’ve been in business in the community for a number of years,” Markley said. “I want to see this county seat move forward, and I don’t think we are moving forward.”
He said when he moved to Marion, he thought council members were more open and savvy, and he’d like the city to return to that style of leadership.
Realizing that Marion is the county seat is important and the city should respond to things in the manner of a county seat, he said.
Markley advocates neighborhood watch programs to cut down on crime in Marion. He thinks some people still believe, as in the past, that crime did not happen here.
With the community economic development director retiring, Markley said the city needs to fill that position.
“I question whether it needs to be full-time,” he said.
The city should work with the school district to improve recreation and activities, Markley said. For instance, the city could bring concerts, comedians, and other entertainments to the Performing Arts Center.
Markley said he’d like to develop a capital improvement plan for streets and sidewalks that improves a specified number of blocks per year instead of having to do so much at one time.
Markley thinks the city should look at across-the-board efficiency, and make sound decisions on spending. It also needs to work harder on development. The population has gone down instead of up.
“It seems Hillsboro has been more progressive in the city growing,” Markley said.
The city’s three biggest draws are actually outside the city limits, he said. Tourism and entertainment are big future needs, Markley said.
“You have to provide services for lake tourists, have activities for them to come in and do when they get bored,” he said.
The city should look at developing a hotel for visitors to Father Emil Kapaun’s museum.
“We need to try to draw in more than just our own local area,” he said.
He also thinks the city should update its comprehensive plan, and review and update it every five years.
“If I am seated as a council member, one thing I would like to do is ensure the council is using the comprehensive plan,” he said.
Last modified Oct. 20, 2021