By Debby Woodin
Residents who wanted to meet members of the Joplin City Council because they see them on television, business promoters, and supporters of the city’s homeless summit were among the visitors Thursday night at City Hall in the Park.
Council members gathered at 6 p.m. at Spiva Park as an informal way of visiting with residents. The session was part of “Discover Downtown,” a summer series that on Thursday featured an art walk, storytelling at the library, music in the park and other activities.
Peter Siegel, chief executive officer of Landex Companies of Linthicum, Md., introduced himself to council members and some members of the city staff. He said his company is an owner of Oak Meadows Apartments, 1502 S. Michigan Ave., and is preparing for a renovation of the buildings.
“We want to preserve them as affordable housing for the 138 families we serve,” he said.
He wanted to ask the council for a letter of support for the project as part of the effort to obtain financing, including tax credits and loans, through the Missouri Housing Development Commission. “I want to make sure that what we’re looking to do fits with the fabric of what the city wants to do,” he said.
He praised the informal venue. “I wish they did these back home,” he said.
A Joplin resident, Donna Thrasher, was another person who visited with some of the council members.
“I was talking to them about the homeless situation,” she said. “I asked that they do what they can.” Thrasher volunteers twice a week in the kitchen of Watered Gardens, a downtown ministry that provides services and goods to the homeless.
The city last week held the first of a series of meetings it plans to have to try to coordinate and better address services to the homeless.
Thrasher said she feels the work to serve the homeless is important because anyone can become displaced. “You could have a major health problem and lose everything you have,” she said. “I know someone that happened to.”
Mike Withers, a representative of Executive Limousine Service, came to the session to promote his business. He said the company is looking for markets for shuttle service and currently is providing ground transportation from the Joplin Regional Airport to the Kansas City airport while Joplin is temporarily without airline service between the two airports.
Liz Sappington, a resident of Spring River Christian Village, came with some other residents of the retirement home as an outing to shake hands with council members and attend the “Discover Downtown” event. “We wanted to get acquainted with our council members,” she said. “We see them on TV, but it’s better if you know them.”
Mayor Gary Shaw said he believes the event was worthwhile.
“There have been a number of citizens who wanted to visit, a number of people who had ideas about some things and a couple of contractors who wanted to talk about projects. I’m very pleased. I thought the turnout was good.”
In addition to meeting informally with council members at City Hall in the Park, residents have an opportunity to meet informally with representatives of the Joplin Police Department. The police session will be held at 6 p.m. today at Jesus Headquarters, 801 Central St., for residents to talk to officers about such things as safety, crime prevention and neighborhood issues.
By Debby Woodin