By Debby Woodin
Residents kept the house packed to the end of a 2 1/2-hour meeting of the Joplin City Council on Monday night to encourage the panel to resurrect some kind of curbside recycling proposal and to hear the details or support a $130 million recovery plan.
The original plan to call an April election on the question of whether to have the city’s existing trash hauler implement a curbside recycling program passed in the end 6-3. Councilmen Mike Seibert, Morris Glaze and Mike Woolston voted against it.
It was resurrected on a request by Councilman Jack Golden, who said during the meeting that he received a number of calls from veterans and others who said they want a chance to vote on the issue. Golden was one of three who voted “no” at the council’s last meeting, defeating the measure for the lack of a five-vote majority.
Six people spoke to the council on the recycling issue. Two of them were vendors who wanted to offer their services to Joplin. Two of the residents asked the council to adopt curbside recycling without an election.
Ryan Stanley, 1020 Sheridan Drive, said his brother and sister, who live in Liberty, recycle but he doesn’t. “I look at what they are doing and what I am doing, and I am not proud of the waste I create.” He said curbside recycling would make it convenient for him to start recycling.
Susan Adams, 1130 Roosevelt Ave., held up a kitchen-sized trash bag about two-thirds full of shredded paper and said that was an example of the amount of trash she puts out for pickup because she and her husband recycle the remainder of their household waste. Adams, the director of human resources at Able Body Manufacturing Co., said that company allows its employees to bring their items to the company’s recycling bins for disposal.
She asked those in the audience who came to support curbside recycling to stand up. About half the audience did. Councilman Gary Shaw asked how many of them supported the council mandating curbside recycling and increased trash bill costs. The audience was split on that question, with about as many saying they did not favor the mandate as those who did.
During council discussion, Seibert asked if the offer of Allied Waste to provide curbside pickup every other week for $3.03 would still be available if the city waited until an election next year. Allied spokesman Jennifer Fagan said the company could reduce the price to $2.88 if it were enacted now but would have to re-examine pricing in November or December if the city waits.
Golden asked if the city could pay for recycling to address concerns that many people cannot afford the increase in rates. That suggestion did not advance after the cost was estimated at $500,000 a year.
A proposal to spend the city’s $113 million federal Community Development block grant funds plus other recovery funds on infrastructure repairs from the tornado, 20th Street beautification, infrastructure for a green neighborhood and a $40 million field house drew applause from the audience and commendations by several councilmen of the city staff’s work to devise the proposal.
“This plan fills a lot of voids that had not been filled before,” and will help attract new business and industry expansion here, City Manager Mark Rohr told the council.
Rohr said he and city department heads made a list of possible projects, many of them from public suggestions at past meetings. “We narrowed the original list with the strictures of the CDBG funds,” which require projects to benefit low- to moderate-income residents and to address blighted areas.
Chris Cotten, parks and recreation director, described the $40 million “Joplin Commons” project as a two-story field house, a new senior center with exercise rooms and a therapy pool, and a separate $270,000 skatepark. The field house would contain an indoor pool that would meet specifications for competition swimming, indoor courts for basketball and soccer, a walking track and large meeting rooms.
The new senior center is based on requests made by in a letter to City Hall earlier this year from residents.
Rohr was asked by the council where the commons project would be located. Rohr said a site would have to be chosen but it would be inside the tornado zone. He said the buildings may have to be located on separate sites rather than together, depending on the availability of land.
The city would have until 2017 to use the $113 million on the projects. The city would have to file an action plan with the federal government for approval to start a project, and projects would have to be finished within two years of that action plan, Rohr said.
Rohr said that if the council wished to move forward, the city staff would devise an action plan and hold a public hearing on it. The plan then would be scheduled for a formal council vote.
At the conclusion of the presentation and the council discussion, the audience applauded and so did several council members.
The council voted 9-0 to proceed with the $130 million recovery plan.