People's Bank, McPherson city staff discuss alley vacation

By Chris Swick
September 22, 2015

What if scenarios were bandied about in relation to possible expansion of the People's Bank and Trust main branch at Main Street and Kansas Avenue during a McPherson City Commission study session Monday morning.

Particularly, bank officials were asking the City to consider vacating a portion of the alley running north and south behind the branch, as well as an alley that runs east and west between Main and Ash Street. The issue was one of safety, said Peoples President Tom Pruitt.

“Our drive-thru traffic right now, probably 70 percent of our traffic does exit north going through that alley,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt added that there have been a number of near-misses in terms of accidents as customers attempt to exit the bank out onto Kansas Avenue. The Bank was wishing to both vacate the north part of the alley, where it meets Kansas Avenue, and change the traffic pattern so that cars exiting the drive-thru would be forced to turn south.

McPherson Assistant Police Chief Mike Terry was against the vacation of the north end of the alley.

“I went over the accidents in the alley for the past five years and, while we've had several, none of them at this intersection,” Terry said. “So, from a safety point of view, that doesn't fit the vacate from the police side of it.”

Concerns from Terry, as well as McPherson Fire Chief Jeff Deal, surrounded access for emergency crews.

After discussion with City staff, as well as representatives from People's Bank, the Board of Public Utilities and Kansas Gas Service, it was determined that the best course of action would be to vacate the east/west alleyway only and direct traffic from the People's drive-thru to the south and then through an exit drive that would spill out onto Ash Street.

Mayor Tom Brown added that the adjustment, as well as shifting that drive a few feet to the north of the alley onto to property privately owned by the bank already, would allow for possible future expansion, as long as the utilities and emergency responders are able to maintain access.

“We would want to keep the pavement so we could get a fire truck in there close to your building, close to the east building,” Brown said. “And also, if necessary, we can maneuver that alley and that alley network as [Terry] said.”

The issue will be brought before the McPherson City Planning and Zoning Board on Oct. 6. The hope is to have a plan outlined by then that would allow People's to start work on the new drive by mid-November.