The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 19, 2013

Joplin City Council approves revised grant

By Debby Woodin

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin City Council approved a revised $12 million federal grant for street projects without discussion on Tuesday night.

Opposition among business owners who would have been affected by one of the projects to be funded by the grant, a viaduct on East 15th Street, had caused the council to ask the Federal Highway Administration to amend some details of the projects.

Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean then asked that the city staff discuss the details of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — or TIGER — grant without the 15th Street project. The highway agency later agreed to allow Joplin to keep the full amount of the grant and apply the money allocated to the viaduct to the other projects listed in the proposal.

“There is now $1.24 million that will be distributed to those other projects,” Public Works Director David Hertzberg told the council.

The money meant for that viaduct chiefly will be allocated instead to projects to widen Maiden Lane and Schifferdecker Avenue, and to build a viaduct over the railroad line on East 20th Street. A project that will be added is one to build sidewalks on 20th Street from Murphy Boulevard to Range Line Road.

The grant also will fund the widening of 26th Street from Maiden Lane to Schifferdecker Avenue.

After the meeting, Hertzberg said construction bids likely will go out in the spring for the street widening projects and in August for the viaduct.

The council also approved condemnation proceedings against the owners of three properties with whom agreements have not been reached on the sale of easements or rights of way for the Schifferdecker Avenue widening.

Those are at 2705 S. Washington Ave., property owned by Molandco, and at 3001 and 3002 Sunset Drive, owned by D.T. Land Co. All are in the Sunset Ridge neighborhood, where residents earlier this month asked the council for city action on properties that have not been made safe since the 2011 tornado, such as the two on Sunset Drive. City staff members told the residents that negotiations with those owners are partly why rebuilding has not occurred.

Several property acquisitions for the widening projects were approved.

A $2,000 purchase of right of way at 3031 Sunset Drive East was authorized for the Schifferdecker Avenue project.

For the 26th Street project, the council authorized property payments of $1,500 at 2907 W. 26th St.; $300 at 2024 W. 26th St.; $8,200 at 1627 W. 26th St.

Contracts for the design of a taxiway and a service road to be built at the Joplin Regional Airport were approved. The projects will largely be funded by the Federal Aviation Administration for runway safety. Hertzberg said the taxiway project was being done for safety.

An agreement providing $143,300 in federal grant money for housing was approved. The money is to be used to build two homes through Habitat for Humanity.

Councilman Mike Seibert presented a request to provide a letter of support for a grant application that is to be filed for Jasper County Circuit Court to fund a specialty court for people charged with felony counts of driving while intoxicated. The council agreed to support the proposal.

Behind closed doors

A CLOSED MEETING WAS HELD Tuesday night, with the council citing an evaluation of a council employee. The council did not identify the employee to be evaluated. Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean said after the closed session that no vote had been taken in regard to the discussions with the employee.