The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 6, 2013

Street work returns to council’s agenda

Federal highway administrator to speak about $12 million grant

JOPLIN, Mo. — A final decision may be made tonight by the Joplin City Council on whether to accept a $12 million federal grant for street projects, excluding construction of a viaduct on 15th Street.

The council on Dec. 17 voted to advance to second and third readings an ordinance that would authorize the grant — minus the 15th Street project because of opposition by business owners in the area. A public hearing is scheduled at today’s meeting so that residents may comment before the council takes final action. A viaduct over the railroad line at 20th Street also is part of the proposal.

The council had asked the city staff to find out how the grant would be affected if the 15th Street viaduct project was omitted.

As a result, Kevin Ward, Missouri division administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, has asked to speak to the council during today’s meeting, set for 6 p.m. at City Hall, 602 S. Main St.

Business owners who oppose the project met Friday to discuss what options they have if the council restores the project.

David Hertzberg, the city’s public works director, has said the 15th Street viaduct was only in preliminary design stages and that those affected by it would have been consulted in a later stage.

In other business, the council will be asked to authorize the transfer of funds to the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. as part of the work to gear up for $806 million in tornado redevelopment projects.

According to a city staff memo, the city’s master developer, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners of Sugar Land, Texas, has asked local banks to lend $8 million to the JRC to buy property for some of the projects. The banks have asked that the JRC show some assets before they form a consortium to consider providing the loan.

According to the city staff, $800,000 already budgeted for economic development work could be used if the council authorizes a budget amendment to allow the transfer temporarily to the redevelopment corporation.

A closed meeting for the purpose of evaluating council employees also is scheduled.

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