WEBB CITY, Mo. —
In a “state of the city address” on Thursday, interim City Administrator Carl Francis said Webb City residents have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
“On the economic standpoint, we have a lot of big things coming,” he said during a Webb City Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “We have some developments that will be very beneficial to the city of Webb City.”
An Environmental Protection Agency project to fill the Sucker Flats pit in King Jack Park came to a standstill last fall, but Francis said the project is back in motion.
Francis said he was told that the work stoppage was the result of a pay dispute between the project contractor and a subcontractor.
The cleanup and project to fill the pit would make an additional 23 acres in the park available for use.
Francis said the additional acres could “absolutely be a gem for this city’s future” when it comes to festivals or park features. “That’s going to be a big plus for us here in the very near future,” he said.
For years, Webb City leaders have been in discussions with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources about how to handle contamination left behind by the area’s lead and zinc mining history.
The city responded to a request for a proposal issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the DNR last year that involves $3 million in funding and is now awaiting final approval.
“We’ve devised a plan to create a wetland that will hopefully treat the zinc,” Francis said. “When it comes to dollars and cents for Webb City and the sewer bill, this is a big deal. It can amount to large amounts of money being saved down the road.”
Francis said about 1,000 acres north of town would be restored to a natural state, and the restoration would take about five years.
Mayor John Biggs said the wetland portion of the habitat would be about 40 or 50 acres, and the rest will be forest and natural prairie grasses. Use of the land purchased with the funding would be restricted, with only walking trails, picnic tables and pavilions to be allowed.
Biggs said a lot of trees would be planted as well.
Final approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected within the next couple of months, Francis said.
Francis also praised city employees and officials for working well together.
“The No. 1 thing I can talk about is what gets us here,” he said. “One of the things leading Webb City right now is just the people.”
Francis said those who enforce the city’s codes and regulations work well with local businesses.
“I think we’ve shown with our infrastructure that this is a good place to build a business,” he said. “We’re not the richest community in the United States, but I challenge anybody to find a place that the city will work with you as well.”
Bill Sorrick, co-owner of Madison Pet Clinic, said he has been a business owner in Webb City for 12 years.
“I have no complaints,” he said. “Webb City has been good to us economically. Not just that, it’s a good place to hire employees because of their work ethic.”
Sorrick said the clientele is good to work with too, adding that the people are down-to-earth.
Business owner’s take
“IT’S JUST THE HEARTLAND,” said Madison Pet Clinic co-owner Bill Sorrick, of Webb City. “I tell my staff and my clients all the time we’ve got the best of both worlds here.”