NEOSHO, Mo. — As construction nears for a new performing arts center at the high school, the city and school district may enter into a partnership that waives some fees in exchange for construction features.
The Neosho City Council on Tuesday will consider initial approval of an agreement with the Neosho School District to waive any project fees. In return, the school district will complete two crosswalks and sidewalks, a rerouting of Hill Street north of the high school and improve stormwater handling at the site, according to documentation from the city. The school district will also give signs to the city of Neosho at Bob Anderson Stadium.
The agreement will mark the first time Neosho’s newly expanded council will make decisions regarding one of the biggest building projects in the city. The previous five-member council last year agreed to be open to such arrangements but did not provide any direction about what those arrangements would be. The agreement also asks the city for support during the construction and rerouting of Hill Street. That amounts to communication and coordination, said Superintendent Jim Cummins, not any of the actual construction work.
“We’re already meeting with them on Wednesday just to start talking to them about the rerouting,” Cummins said. “It’s going to take some coordination, and ‘support’ is just that, making sure we are all on the same page.”
In order to accommodate the 36,130-square-foot expansion on the north side of the high school, Hill Street will be relocated northward to align with West Patterson Street on the western side of Neosho Boulevard. The stretch of Hill Street that gets painted by seniors annually will remain in place.
The school district is in the midst of a series of building projects approved by voters in June. A performing arts center at Neosho High School is the biggest project in the list; other projects are an indoor training center and end zone facility at Bob Anderson Stadium, locker room renovations at the high school and storm shelters at the four remaining buildings that did not yet have them.
City Manager David Kennedy said the city is interested in the completion of the crosswalks.
“We were looking at something that could provide security and safety, so that our students could get to school safely,” Kennedy said. “Adequately marked crosswalk areas are important for the city.”
The crosswalks and sidewalks would be near Benton Elementary School and along South Street. The one outside Benton Elementary is also dependent on improvements planned by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Kennedy said project fees would be around $160,000 for all of the school’s project costs, valued around $32 million. The council will ultimately decide how much to waive in fees, Kennedy said, as well as proposing any other terms. “Then both entities will know where to go from there,” Kennedy said.
Other fees for such things as inspections of electrical or plumbing systems are not part of the proposal, Kennedy said.
Cummins said that the value of utility work and stormwater improvements alone would cost about $2.5 million. The district hopes to open bidding for the performing arts center construction in mid-June; initial estimates place the cost at more than $16 million.
The city and school district have already been collaborating on the project. Last year, the council allowed the school district early permission to work under scaled-back building codes. The school district also retained the same engineering firm, Allgeier Martin and Associates, that the city had hired for stormwater handling.
Cummins said the school board signed off on the agreement and will be prepared to consider any counteroffers.
“We are just trying to find some compromise, and I don’t think anything is set in stone,” Cummins said. “It just depends on what we can agree to.”
Whether there would be any actual savings to taxpayers remains unclear. Virtually all homes within Neosho city limits are also in the Neosho School District; property owners pay a property tax of $3.74 per $100 of assessed valuation.
Kennedy said there is a flurry of building activity throughout the city, however. Intersection improvements for Highway 86 and Gateway Drive are hoped to begin soon, and the city recently received a $2.5 million grant for flooding reduction.
“At the end of the day, both entities are looking at what is a good deal for Neosho,” Kennedy said. “That’s what everyone is focused on.”