Politics & Government

Sedgwick County will try to sell or lease former boys’ ranch

The Sedgwick County Commission is asking for proposals to either sell or lease the former Judge Riddel Boys Ranch property. (Nov. 29, 2012)
The Sedgwick County Commission is asking for proposals to either sell or lease the former Judge Riddel Boys Ranch property. (Nov. 29, 2012) File photo

Sedgwick County is asking once again whether anyone wants the former Judge Riddel Boys Ranch property near Lake Afton.

The county will publish a request for proposals Tuesday to sell or lease the property to developers or nonprofits.

“The intent of the RFP is to see what kind of interest there was and is for this property,” facilities director Steve Claassen said at a county staff meeting Monday.

The Judge Riddel Boys Ranch, a youth residential facility near Goddard for troubled teens, closed in 2014 after the state decided not to increase funding at the county’s request.

The county then asked for proposals to lease the property. Although some groups toured the facility, the county didn’t receive any proposals that September. The property had sewer and other maintenance problems.

“We have not done any repairs or maintenance since then,” Claassen said. “It’s basically the same property it was in 2014.”

Some county commissioners last year were interested in reopening the ranch but ultimately approved alternative programming for youth offenders instead.

“It’s been sitting there now not being used for quite some time, and that’s never healthy for a piece of property,” Commissioner Dave Unruh said. “We’d like to see that property somehow productive. In order to accomplish that, we need to see what ideas folks in the community have for that site.”

Unruh said the option to buy the property instead of rent it could generate more responses this time around.

“It’s going to take some investment to get it up to speed, and I don’t think people wanted to do that in a lease arrangement,” Unruh said. “They might be more willing to do that if they own the property.”

Commission Chairman Jim Howell said this request could appeal to groups interested in other uses for the property, like creating a recreational facility near the lake.

“There’s a lot of other organizations that could be brought into this besides a residential youth facility, and that’s why I think this going to get a different response,” he said. “We’re going to find a new use for this facility, and we’re going to move on.”

The county can restrict proposed uses for the property – such as adult entertainment or manufacturing – because of its proximity to county-owned Lake Afton Park. Any use for the property would need to be approved by county commissioners.

The county is primarily interested in selling the main 24-acre ranch property, Claassen said. But the county will also consider proposals that include neighboring parcels.

A site visit to tour the property grounds is scheduled for March 8. Proposals are due March 29.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar