Politics & Government

Sedgwick County looking again to sell or lease former boys ranch

The Sedgwick County Commission shut down the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch in 2014 after funding issues with the state.
The Sedgwick County Commission shut down the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch in 2014 after funding issues with the state. File photo

Sedgwick County commissioners are still interested in trying to sell or lease the former Judge Riddel Boys Ranch near Lake Afton.

County officials plan to begin crafting a request for proposals that will be sent to real estate developers and nonprofits to gauge interest in the 38-acre property.

“I think we need to be flexible and open to all options,” chairman Richard Ranzau said Tuesday.

The county has tried before to interest developers and nonprofits in the property near Goddard. Commissioners shut down the boys ranch, a youth residential facility for troubled teens, in 2014 after funding issues with the state.

Although some groups were interested in the property and toured the facility, the county didn’t receive any proposals that September to lease the ranch. The facility had sewer and air-conditioning issues as well as concerns about compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Some county commissioners wanted to reopen the ranch last year. But they ultimately approved an alternative correctional program.

County staff members said Tuesday that the rural site has limited road access. But County Manager Michael Scholes said the county should address those issues as they come up in the feedback it receives.

“Right now, that’s a non-issue. Nobody’s really talking about that aspect of it,” Scholes said. “… Let’s see what we get back and then the conversation may ensue on accessibility.”

County Counselor Eric Yost said his office would research how the county could limit the permitted zoning uses of the property. And public works staff will study the roadwork that may be needed if the property is sold or leased.

The county hopes to have a draft request done by the middle of February.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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