Councilwoman Ortiz tells of ‘terrible scene’ she saw involving fight at National Night Out gathering

“It was really sad to see those officers fight off those children,” said Topeka City Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz of an incident Sunday at Betty Phillips Park during a National Night Out event. “Luckily, no one got hurt.”

Topeka City Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz told fellow council members she saw a “terrible scene” when a fight broke out between teenagers during a National Night Out event Sunday at southeast Topeka’s Betty Phillips Park.

 

The incident helps illustrate why this city needs to invest more in its youngsters, Ortiz said at Tuesday evening’s council meeting.

Police got involved after youngsters — who appeared to be in middle school and high school — started the trouble, Ortiz said.

“It was really sad to see those officers fight off those children,” she said. “Luckily, no one got hurt.”

Three teens were taken into custody in connection with criminal trespassing and interference, Topeka police said.

Ortiz spoke at a meeting where the city’s governing body, consisting of the nine council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast, also held a public hearing on the proposed 2018 city budget. The hearing drew one speaker: Pam Ensley of Topeka JUMP, who urged the governing body to come up with a plan to invest more money in affordable housing in Topeka.

The governing body plans Aug. 15 to consider finalizing the proposed $292.9 million budget, which includes spending limits aimed at keeping in place this year’s property tax levy of 39.927 mills.

In other business, governing body members:Voted 9-0, with Councilman Richard Harmon having not yet arrived, to set a Sept. 12 public hearing to consider the advisability of establishing a Community Improvement District for the Wheatfield Village development near S.W. 29th and Fairlawn Road.

Voted 9-0 to schedule a Sept. 12 public hearing to consider adopting a redevelopment project plan for the Wheatfield Village development.

Opened a public hearing on the city’s proposed 2018 Consolidated Action Plan regarding investment of about $5.9 million in public money designated for neighborhood improvements, then closed the hearing without anyone having made any comments. The governing body plans to consider approving that plan next week.

Voted 9-0 to change zoning for the former Army Reserve armory property at 2014 S.E. Washington to enable it to be used as the site of an “East Topeka Learning Center.”

Voted 9-0 to issue temporary notes totaling $43.76 million to finance city projects.

Voted 9-0 to issue general obligation bonds in the amount of $28.49 million, mostly to finance new improvements but also to refinance bonds issued in 2012 for capital improvements.

Voted 8-0, with Wolgast not having a vote, to appoint Shampayne Lloyd to the Citizens Advisory Council for a term ending Aug. 9, 2020.

Heard 8-year-old Jayden Haley — a Meadows Elementary School student accompanied by his mother, Brandi Haley — call out from Councilwoman Karen Hiller’s seat that she was present during roll call at the beginning of the meeting. Jayden won the right to do that in a raffle at a National Night Out celebration held by the Ward-Meade Neighborhood Improvement Association.

Heard Topeka Zoo director Brendan Wiley say 1,274 people recently attended the zoo’s first movie night, where it showed “Zootopia.”

Heard city manager Doug Gerber say the Topeka Zoo was getting a male tiger Tuesday evening.

Heard Gerber say the city had been awarded federal funds totaling about $600,000 for a street project in the area of S.W. 29th and McClure Road and $400,000 for a project involving S.W. Gage Boulevard in the area of S.W. Emland Drive.

Met behind closed doors in executive session to discuss contract negotiations and receive legal advice.

Heard Councilwoman Elaine Schwartz speak positively of the “Momentum 2022” webcast put on Monday by The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir can be reached at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.

 

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