SIKESTON - Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority Board members have selected 35 houses within their target area for demolition.
The Board had originally intended on selecting 30 to begin with. "Then hopefully next month we'll identify another 30 and next month another 30," said Mike Bohannon, LCRA chair.
During Monday's LCRA Board meeting, Board members discussed the condition of various dilapidated and burnt-out structures with code enforcement officers and asked if there are buildings that present health and safety issues before going into a closed executive session to make their picks.
"We're not picking 30 houses out of a hat," Bohannon explained before Monday's meeting. "It is important that the LCRA and code enforcement of the city of Sikeston work together."
Bohannon said there are a couple of funding options for the demolitions while the LCRA waits for the recently-approved 1-cent sales tax to kick in.
"The city could prefund us or the LCRA could, under statutes of the State of Missouri, borrow money and/or float a bond issue," Bohannon said. "We feel we cannot afford to wait nine months to a year for the sales tax to start the cleanup of our community. We feel now is the time to move forward. It is imperative that the citizens of Sikeston see results."
In other business addressed by Board members in open session:
* David Crader, legal counsel for the LCRA, provided an update on the Community Development Block Grant application for funds to tear down the old First Baptist Church and a few residences.
Crader said the CDBG application will be filed before the LCRA's next regular monthly meeting. The filing was delayed once again because of a request for additional funds from the CDBG to repair the roof on the old Lincoln School building.
The grant will also include $15,000 for administrative services.
Tom Bridger, public works director, said Peckham, Guyton, Albers and Viets, a St. Louis consulting firm specializing in planning and urban renewal projects, is providing additional advice on asbestos removal and demolition costs. A preliminary estimate projected the cost of the asbestos removal will run about $60,000.
The LCRA has received bids to remove the asbestos from the church but is still waiting on the demolition bids for the building, Bohannon said.
* Crader advised the LCRA will seek professional service bids for title searches, surveying and appraisal for the acquisition of properties.
* The Board reviewed a letter from the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church regarding the old Coca-Cola buildings which were purchased by the church granting permission to level the main building.
As the building was actually financed through and is owned by the diocese in Springfield, there is no way to convey the property to the city, explained Glenn Pinkerton, a church member acting as spokesman for the church.
The church is "dedicated to that location," Pinkerton said, and is using one building for additional classrooms for its school. "Our position is we want to be a good neighbor," he said.
Pinkerton said the church wouldn't profit from the demolition, but would like to use the lot for additional parking space and do some landscaping "to improve the aesthetics of downtown. . . . We know its an eyesore."
Bohannon said it may be possible to get a downtown revitalization grant.
* Board members discussed the possibility of contracting with BRI, Weed and Seed, or another organization to hire youth to mow and maintain LCRA-owned vacant lots.