Discussing Stockton’s Shared Streets and an interested buyer in Stockton’s industrial park property were hot topics on the agenda at the Stockton board of aldermen’s regular meeting on Monday, July 27.

After the board opened up for visitors, former Stockton mayor Mary Norell stepped up to the podium to give a review of the Shared Streets program.

Norell noted the background of the program, saying Kasinger-Basin contacted Stockton about Liveable/Complete Streets — a national program for cities to have accessible streets — in summer of 2019.

In June of 2019, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Citizens granted $20,000 to establish a Stockton street network, Norrell said, and with the help from Ron Bench of Missouri for Responsible Transportation and Project Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Citizens grant, the Stockton Shared Streets Network was developed, she said.

Soon later, Complete Streets became an ordinance in July of 2019.

Complete Streets is important for the health of kids and adults, people with disabilities, local safety and the city’s economy, Norell said.

Norell stressed the role people with disabilities play in the Complete Streets program, saying, “People with disabilities … these are individuals that are not able to drive a car, but they need to be safe to get around the town.”

Norell also noted the Shared Streets program is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities act.

Wrapping up her discussion, Norell told the board she wanted to review the Shared Street Network because there may have been “some misunderstanding,” about it, as well as stress the importance of providing ways for people with disabilities to get around the city.

Aldermen Brent Wallen asked if the grant funds could be allotted for sidewalks, to which Norell said no, but noted there are grants in Missouri for sidewalks.

“We have to finish it up,” Norell later said, referring to the Complete Streets grant. “And that’s where we are in the process. I think there’s still some painting that needs to be done, and then the signs to be hung, and then we’d like to add a couple of places for people — maybe a bench for somewhere, for someone to sit.”

After Norell’s review, Stockton mayor Roger Hamby said he is “all for this,” and believed it is a great program; however, he said Norell is involving “city people,” to work with the program and asked if it is feasible to pay somebody to do the program instead of city taxpayers.

Norell said when the board of aldermen talked about the program before, public works supervisor Raymond Heryford said he was willing to do it, but Hamby’s suggestion was fine, as well, while also noting the grant is $20,000.

“We’ll get somebody,” Norell said.

Public member Marilyn Ellis said the money has to be spent by September this year.

“I think what we need to do is find some volunteers to help also,” Norell said. “I’m sure we can do that. There are many groups in this city that like to help out.”

When Norell was done speaking, Ellis took her turn at the podium along with Becky Groff.

Ellis said she and Groff had visited with the board at the previous regular. According to previous Republican coverage, the pair spoke about a need for an individual with special needs to use the city cemetery as a thruway for safe traveling in town in accordance with the city’s golf cart licensing regulations, citing the Shared Streets program and an additional grant.

Cemetery board member Larry Johnston told the aldermen the board would recommend allowing access to the city cemetery as a walking area and, “if it can be worked out, access allowed from the [apartments] next door to the cemetery.”

“If they can access through that area, then golf carts could come through the cemetery and would allow them to complete the Safe Streets — allow them access on a golf cart to most parts of that,” Johnston said.

Ellis said this means the aldermen would need to recommend to put a gate into the cemetery, or take down a portion of the fence.

In return, Hamby said if one person is allowed “through there,” then everybody would have to be allowed.

“The area we’re talking about would not be a heavily trafficked area,” Johnston said. “Coming through that side of the cemetery — coming through next to those apartments — there are very few people coming through that area.”

Of the two people Johnston is aware of needing to access the area, one is hoping to utilize a golf cart in the near future, and the other is a man who uses a walker and needs to be kept off of Route J, Johnston said.

Hamby said he has no objection to helping people with disabilities, but said the usage of golf carts in the cemetery — as well as all over town — is concerning to him.

Alderman Mark Frieze agreed on Hamby’s notion of golf carts, while also adding he is “overprotective” on the topic because he lost a son due to an ATV accident.

“We’re talking about disabled people who are being discriminated against because there’s no safe way to get them places other than a short strip through our cemetery,” Ellis said.

Johnston told Hamby he and Ellis were talking about “people who are licensed or allowed by the law to operate a golf cart on the city streets, and that’s restricted in the amount of speed the golf cart can go … it would be restricted to this kind of traffic.”

Johnston added the cemetery’s thru-way would not be an open-access area — it would be for people who have been walking there for around 30 years and people who are authorized to use golf carts.

Alderman Mary Anne Manring asked if there could be a sign at the cemetery gate limiting entrance to its access.

Groff said there was an ordinance passed for the usage of golf carts with a requirement for golf carts to be registered in the city; thus, if city visitors have not registered their golf carts, then they cannot operate golf carts on city streets.

After further discussion, Hamby noted he was against the idea and left it up to the aldermen to make a motion. Alderman Barbara Pate then made a motion to allow for the cemetery fence to “be fixed where they can get into the cemetery, and that we monitor it and we can go from there, but that way they will have access.”

Manring seconded the motion, but Frieze, Wallen and Hamby voted no, prompting the motion to fail.

Frieze noted he thinks the topic needs more discussion, and later in the meeting said he wished there had been more information provided about the issue prior to the vote.

Buyer interested in Stockton property behind industrial park

Later in the meeting, city clerk Vanessa Harper told the board there is a buyer interested in the property the city owns behind the industrial park.

“We had a gentleman come by last week and wanted to know if the city would be interested in selling it,” Harper said.

Harper noted she did not know how much money the man was wanting to purchase the property for.

Building inspector/code enforcer John Wilson said if the property should be sold, he would open it up because he has had people ask about the property in previous years.

“We don’t use it for anything,” Heryford said.

Manring said once the city sells the property, they then do not have the offer of the park’s purpose — the industry, while Heryford noted taxes would be something else to consider.

Wallen asked if the city owns either side of the park, and Heryford said two other entities own two sides of the property.

“We just need to sell it and be done,” Heryford said, noting the clean-up for the property would be considerable.

Hamby said he likes the Pate’s suggestion of the buyer needing to have a business on the property. Off that beat, Wallen said he suggested for a motion that by putting up the property for sale, the buyer’s bid should also include a purpose for the land.

“And put a stipulation in there after an X amount of years, if it is not used for its intended purpose, then it is forfeited, or the city buys it back at half-price or [such],” Wallen said.

City attorney Peter Lee advised the city could not require certain things of buyers as a condition for the sale, but at the end of the day, “doing that gets into a very complicated and technical area of law as far as the drafting of the contract.”

“As far as what to do to find out what interest there is, yeah, we need a motion and a vote from the council as far as that’s concerned whether it be to sell or whether it be leasing options in the interested parties,” Lee added.

Pate said the board should make sure there is somebody looking to purchase or lease the property before doing anything, ultimately suggesting and voting to table the topic until they find out more about it.

Stockton aldermen meetings are held the second and fourth Monday of each month at City Hall. Meetings are open to the public and interested community members are encouraged to attend.

For the full minutes of the meeting, keep updated on cedarrepublican.com

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