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by Mark Cheffey
The Palmyra City Council agreed last Thursday to give another shot at establishing a Community Improvement District in an effort to boost the downtown business district.
Noting the effort had foundered last year, Mayor Rusty Adrian asked the council during its regular meeting to either try again at getting it approved or to give it up.
“If we’re going to move forward, we need to step up,” Adrian told the council, noting some urgency in that the city continues to pay regular legal fees connected with the endeavor.
Specifically, he said a renewed effort would need to be made in trying to get the necessary signatures of property owners within the proposed CID boundaries to establish the district.
As it stands now, the city has from 15 to 20 signatures, well short of the 51 needed to be able to move forward.
“I think it’s going to be hard to get those signatures,” said Council Member Pam Behring.
With assistance provided by the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council, the city held a series of public hearings last year to inform the public about the proposed CID and its perceived benefits to property owners within the district.
The district would become a special taxing district that would help provide funding to help business owners spruce up their buildings and attract more business.
But efforts to collect signatures from property owners has seemed to fizzle out, leaving the proposed CID in limbo.
Behring said she has heard concerns from the public about the CID’s possible negative effects on the local school and nursing home districts’ taxing revenues.
Council Member Brock Fahy, who has championed the project since its start, said he was all for continuing to raise support.
“I would like to give it one more try,” Fahy said, noting property owners need to be convinced of the CID’s benefits.
Adrian said, if the city is to have any success, council members would need to “hit the streets” and talk to the affected property owners how it is designed to revive downtown businesses.
“And, it needs to be in simple terms,” Adrian said.
It was the consensus of the council to redouble efforts on the CID.
The council also took the next step toward getting the Head Business Park officially certified as a viable site for prospective business and industry by voted unanimously to approve spending $8,500 for GeoTech boring at the business park.
The boring is a necessary step toward before the city can apply to have the park achieve Missouri Certified Site status.
The council also unanimously approved a proclamation honoring Al Durand, a Palmyra citizen for his service to the community over many years and in particular his 30 years of service on the Marion County 911 Board.
Also approved, at the request of BPW Superintendent Brent Abell, was a pole attachment agreement being sought with Bright Speed which utilizes city utility poles for its telecommunication system, commonly known as CenturyTel.
Abell also informed the council of a recently visit by Environmental Protection Agency officials and personnel who were given a tour of the city’s old power plant and other utility installations.
Abell said it was actually a positive thing because of the EPA’s awarding of a $500,000 grant to the Marion-Ralls Port Authority.
“These people want to work with us. This is a good thing,” Abell said, noting that it could lead toward other funding opportunities.
City Clerk Deena Parsons informed the council the city has been awarded a $589,430 Community Development Grant for storm water drainage projects, including the replacement of the North Dickerson St. bridge and enlarge the retention basins at the Jackson Park Golf Course.
City Street Commissioner Austin Dornberger reported the Main Cross/Bradley Street bridge replacement project is progressing in part due to the dry weather.
He also said he would be meeting with a contractor this week to go over the proposed street resurfacing projects.
Police Chief Eddie Bogue told the council he will be meeting with Marion County Fair organizers about traffic plans for the fair due to closure of Main Cross, the major access road for the fair.
He said the focus would be on developing a route for the big trucks that will be coming to the fair.
The council heard the first reading of an ordinance, that according to City Attorney James Lemon, clarifies the city’s already existing yard waste policy.
At Lemon’s request, the council tabled action on a proposed tax collecting agreement offered by Donna Goodin, Marion County collector, whose office does the city’s tax collecting.
Lemon said he wanted more time to be able to advise the council on the agreement’s cost to the city.