The fate of the staircase in Neosho’s Big Spring Park is still uncertain, and on Tuesday, the Parks, Recreation and Golf Course Board asked for more information before determining their involvement in that project.
The concrete stairs, which connect west Spring Street with High Street, have been temporarily closed off for about three months, as safety issues ave arisen regarding the aged staircase.
Neosho City Council members heard from Linda Blake, Newton County Historical Society board president, in their Oct. 16 council meeting, when she asked the council to attempt to save the stairs.
Troy Royer, Neosho City Manager, reported in that same meeting that the city had received only one cost estimate on the repair of the stairs, which came to $21,770. Meanwhile, the in-house cost estimate to vacate the steps, put up a wall and fill the space in with dirt is approximately $6,300, he reported.
While council members expressed support for the repairs, the city is seeking outside funds to help finance that project.
On Tuesday evening, the Parks, Recreation and Golf Course Board considered the city’s request that the board oversee the project.
“The stairs are going to seem important to some people and not to others,” said board member Ken Mayer. “With the costs involved and other issues that may come up, I think we’ve got to ask that the city go seek more details, what possible funding or support there is and what the community support is on this project.”
Royer said while the historical society has expressed support for the repair of the staircase, some homeowners living on High Street near the staircase would rather the stairs be removed.
The city had also hoped the staircase would be included in a Missouri Department of Transportation park trails grant the city is applying for, however, Royer said to qualify for the grant, the projects must be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which seems to rule out the staircase.
Royer said the Neosho Area Community Foundation has expressed interest in donating to the cause, as well as helping to fundraise, while a Neosho resident has also volunteered labor to help repair the handrail on the staircase.
Royer said the council has asked that the city’s engineers examine the steps before action is taken.
“I can see the historical value but if no one’s going to use the stairs for any purpose, and the people at the top of the stairs don’t want those stairs opened up, are we just opening up an argument?” asked board member Gary Elam.
Royer said the railing is either broken away from the steps or cracked in most places, while most of the steps also have cracks in the concrete.
Page 2 of 2 - He said the $21,770 repair estimate would involve laying down rebar on the existing stairs and then overlaying the steps with concrete.
Blake told council members last month that the concrete steps had originally been poured in 1923, and were preceded by a wooden staircase, which had been there since at least the 1880s.
Board members also discussed golf course fees, and endorsed fee changes that will be presented to the Neosho City Council at their next council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20.
The proposed changes include eliminating the Monday through noon Friday eligibility of the annual golf course passes, which would instead allow those holding annual passes to play using their passes seven days per week.
It will also be proposed to council that the golf course no longer accept annual passes for tournament play, and instead charge participants the tournament fee.
An annual pass is $1,200 and golf course manager Justin Beck said there are less than 50 golfers who hold the year-round pass.
If approved by council, the proposed changes would also adjust the weekend and holiday charges for seniors to a set $25 fee.
Currently, there is no senior fee set for weekends.
Veterans with a military I.D. would also receive a discount, which would be the posted senior fee at that time.
The board also took up charges for younger golfers.
Golfers ages 15 and under would be charged a flat $5 fee seven days per week, while those ages 16-18 would pay normal adult fees, or could purchase a junior golfer pass for $140.
The Parks, Recreation and Golf Course Board acts only as an advisory board to the Neosho City Council, making all changes voted on Tuesday evening only recommendations until the council can vote on them.
The Parks, Recreation and Golf Course board also voted Tuesday evening to accept a mission statement for their newly formed board.
The board was created from the merging of the Golf Course Board and the Parks and Recreation Committee.
Their newly adopted mission is “To enrich the lives of Neosho citizens by providing accessible places and activities.”
The board scheduled their next meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the Neosho Municipal Golf Course building.
In the meantime, if any Neosho residents are interested in sharing their input on what they would like to see in the city’s parks, they can pick up a survey form at the Neosho City Hall.
Results from the survey go toward helping Land3 Studio, of Kansas City, to develop a parks needs study for the City of Neosho.