May 17—Projects worth nearly $20 million for floodwater drainage and $24 million for parks were recommended to the Joplin City Council recently by a residents committee.
Former Mayor Mike Seibert presented the recommendation at the council's work session last week on behalf of the 2021 Parks and Stormwater Sales Tax Committee, which he chairs.
The projects would be constructed over the next 10 years if voters approve renewal of a quarter-cent parks and stormwater sales tax that city staff proposes to place on ballots for the Aug. 3 election. The council will be asked Monday to approve ballot language for the question.
"We learned about and reviewed the projects from the parks master plan and the stormwater master plan," Seibert said. Committee members also reviewed other city documents regarding the proposals and details were discussed by city staff, learning about 64 possible projects. The committee also heard from some residents before it ultimately decided on 22 for parks and 13 for stormwater drainage improvement.
"The analogy going through this in my mind was 10 pounds in a 3-pound sack," Seibert said. "You looked at that list, and there were a lot of great projects on there."
Committee members also agreed to changes in some of the projects based on information such as public comments.
One of those was to increase spending for a proposed Dover Outdoor Recreational Bike Park from $1.35 million to $1.75 million. "We really wanted to make that park a destination park," Seibert said. "We really wanted to make that park where our citizens will stay here and utilize that biking trail rather than going to other cities in the region."
The park would be built on back acreage of Dover Hill Park that is accessible from Lone Elm Road. The increase in funding will allow development of more miles of bike trail as well as a pump track. The changes were approved by the committee after hearing from local bike enthusiasts.
The committee also increased spending on the proposed Tin Cup Trail to link the McIndoe and Wildcat Parks into the trail and added proposed funding to parks beautification projects.
A change made in stormwater spending involved a staff request to add a $300,000 project to install an automated gate on the Murphy Boulevard low-water bridge west of Main Street. The gate would close when flooding is detected and reopen when it has subsided.
Councilman Phil Stinnett asked why the trail at Campbell Parkway is not covered with asphalt like other city trails.
Parks Director Paul Bloomberg said it was his understanding there are deed restrictions on that park prohibiting permanent structures and that asphalt surfaces would be considered permanent rather than gravel. Stinnett asked the city attorney if that is the case and the attorney, Peter Edwards, said he would review the deed restrictions.
Council member Doug Lawson asked if there has been consideration of installing a crosswalk across 15th Street for pedestrians walking the trails to have easier access to the prairie restoration site on the south side of 15th.
Bloomberg said that would be a project for the public works department.
Public Works Director David Hertzberg outlined the stormwater projects including an allocation for inspecting the drainage pipes for Old Willow Branch in downtown to be sure there are no potential collapses that could cause major flooding.
Another large project is flood control work in the Sunnyvale neighborhood and in the area of 36th Street and Brownell Avenue.
Council member Keenan Cortez asked if the city has reduced flooding enough that the allocation of less money for that purpose is feasible.
Hertzberg said that the larger share of the sales tax went the last 20 years to large projects such as control of the Old Willow Branch.
"Now you are going to projects that are affecting fewer people but to them these are very important projects," Hertzberg said of those on the new list.