Brent Trout is approaching his one-year anniversary of serving as the Topeka city manager. Recently, he shared his thoughts about the city’s growth, opportunities and goals with TK.
Where do you see Topeka heading in the next few years?
Topeka is moving in a positive direction and will continue to do so. The Cyrus Hotel will be completed in less than four months and the new Iron Rail Brewery will be opening around the same time. In addition, work is continuing on the Wheatfield Development. We are seeing the housing market going well, which means people are moving to Topeka. The Momentum 2022 efforts are just beginning to work through implementation phase, so the future looks very bright.
What do you hope to accomplish as City Manager?
As City Manager I hope to continue to develop the ability of the City departments to make improvements in our infrastructure and improve the delivery of the programs and services we offer. We touch many areas of this community and I want the City to be recognized as a partner in making the community better, not a hindrance.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Topeka?
The biggest opportunity for Topeka is to really improve the quality of life for those that live and work in our community. There are many projects in process that are going to make a difference in how we view our community. The ability to see nice improvements in venues and recreational activities offered is going to make Topeka more appealing than it already is as a place to work and live. These changes will increase the pride in Topeka to new levels that we have not seen for some time. I can already sense the excitement growing in the community.
What do you see as the biggest hurdle for Topeka?
The biggest hurdle is to not lose the positive momentum that we have going. Many
plans are underway through Momentum 2022 and at the city and county levels. The investments in infrastructure improvements and facilities are at a high level. The future looks bright, but we need to continue to think ahead to what the next thing we need to be doing to make our community better so that all persons see and enjoy the benefits of this growth.
How can the City work with businesses to ensure continued growth and prosperity?
We need to ensure that we are creating a clear process for developers to follow when they want to build in the community. Whether it is a startup or an expansion of an existing business, we want them to understand the process and then help them work their way through that process. We can do this by conducting developer forums, meeting with small business development groups and working closely with the Greater Topeka Partnership as they meet with economic development prospects. We also need to work with them (developers) by providing prompt inspections of their new construction or renovations of their existing structure.
Tell us something no one really knows about you.
The first job that I had growing up was working for the Kansas City Chiefs in the summer as part of their ground crew. The job primarily consisted of grass mowing and other landscaping activities. I worked for the Chiefs for a total of four summers. It was fun to work for my favorite team.