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City officials to choose which CDBG grant will be sponsored

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SIKESTON -- Sikeston City Council members will soon decide which Community Development Block Grant application the city will sponsor.

There are currently two proposals for the Council to consider, said City Manager Doug Friend during the City Council briefing session Monday.

The Cornerstone Baptist Church is seeking a sponsorship for a CDBG to fund the construction of a community-type center and to offer counseling services.

The other request is from the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority to fund the demolition and disposal of the old Federal Compress property on West North.

A local government may have only a single CDBG project sponsored on behalf of another organization in addition to their own CDBG project.

Friend said the Historic Midtown Development Group may be seeking a sponsor for CDBG in the near future as well.

In order to meet the CDBG application deadline, the application process needs to begin in November, Friend said. "We'll probably have to do it by next Monday's meeting," he advised.

Councilman Mike Bohannon said clearing the old Compress site is an important project for the LCRA.

Bohannon said as the city owns an additional seven acres behind the Compress site, having that lot cleared will open up that area for redevelopment.

Trey Hardy, community redevelopment coordinator, said the demolition will cost $325,000.

Council members also decided to seek bids on the demolition of buildings on Felker Street as they present a health and safety danger.

The buildings were seized by the Department of Justice in 2002 when the owners went to trial on federal drug charges.

In February 2006, the property was transferred to the city with the stipulation that it must be used for community betterment.

Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden said the buildings are uninhabitable, however, and city officials have determined the best thing for the community is that they be torn down.

Mayor Mike Marshall suggested the city demolish the buildings and send the federal government the bill for demolition costs. While city officials don't expect the federal government to reimburse the city for the costs of demolition, Marshall said at least they will have removed a health and safety hazard.

In other business Monday:

* The city is hoping for $1.2 million in state funding to overlay the city airport's runway.

Friend said the city may not be eligible for the funding as the taxiway is too close to the runway, according to current Federal Aviation Administration specifications.

"It met all the specs up until about five years ago when the feds changed the specifications," he said.

Friend said city officials are hoping the FAA will issue a waiver, however.

The city recently completed a project to repair the airport's apron, according to Friend, and are now looking to update the airport's master plan.

Friend asked Council members to be prepared to make appointments to an airport committee Monday during the regular City Council meeting.

This committee will assist in airport planning, Friend said. He suggested the board could possibly become a permanent advisory board for the airport.

* City Council members approved a $39,500 Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Grant through the State Emergency Management Agency.

The money will be used to buy 18 portable radios at $903.75 each and one base station at $22,792 for the Department of Public Safety, according to DPS Director Drew Juden. The remaining $400 will be used for shipping fees.

This grant requires no matching funds, according to Juden, although it does require the department to decommission as many radios as are purchased.

These purchases will help city meet the FCC requirement to be using narrowband radios by 2013, Juden said.

* Council members authorized the LCRA to sell 12 properties to individuals interested in building single family owner-occupied homes, or acquiring additional space for a church or business.

While 10 of the properties are vacant lots, one is a structure at 824 William which LCRA Chairman David Ziegenhorn advised in a letter can be a habitable structure with a little work. Since homes on either side of this home are sound and there is little chance of the LCRA acquiring them, Ziegenhorn said in the letter that "demolishing this structure just to have a 40-foot wide vacant lot would be a waste of tax dollars."

Also among the properties is the old fire station property at 403 West Malone.

* Council members accepted the apparent low bid of 3.664 interest from Regions Bank to finance the lease purchase agreement for the the purchase, installation and maintenance of E-911 and VOIP communication equipment.

There were nine other bids ranging from 4.028 percent to 5.062 percent.

* Recommendations from the Traffic Committee were presented by Steve Lee, street superintendent, on a request to reverse the traffic flow on American Legion Drive, which connects North Kingshighway and Front Street, and to remove some curbing to provide additional parking.

Lee said the Traffic Committee "couldn't see any benefit to reversing traffic" as traffic leaving the parking lot would have to make a right turn next to railroad tracks into a right-turn only lane.

Lee said the committee recommended council members "leave traffic flow the same."

The Traffic Committee also recommended not taking out two of the curbing sections which belong to the city of Sikeston but has no objection to the landowner taking out a third curb section which belongs to the landowner and will not affect the city, according to Lee.

Lee suggested the businesses located in the building there, which include Blades and Dr. Thomas Waltrip's office among others, could free up additional parking for customers by having employees park in a nearby city parking lot.

Council members were also advised by Friend that they should delay making any changes until after the Peckham Guyton Albers and Viets urban consulting firm in St. Louis completes their recommendation for the downtown area.

* Council members authorized city staff to renew the employee health insurance plan with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Karen Bailey, city treasurer, advised the rate increase is below the 15-percent increase budgeted.

* The adoption of the ATMOS energy franchise renewal was tabled as Chuck Leible, city counselor advised council members he was waiting on more information.