Tonight, the Neosho City Council will decide between voting to surplus or to demolish the vacant, city-owned two-story house, located at 521 N. Wood St., in Morse Park.
The council meets at 7 p.m. this evening at the Neosho City Hall Council Chambers, 203 E. Main St.
The Queen-Anne style home, built in 1890, was purchased by the city in Feb. 1998 for $118,000, from Bud Combs, and is commonly referred to as the Combs House.
According to information in the council packet, the city has received interest from two separate individual parties in purchasing the home and surrounding property.
Meanwhile, two councilmen have also directed City Manager Troy Royer to demolish the structure.
Royer told the Daily News last fall that the city had originally purchased the house at the same time that, with FEMA funds, the city paid to tear down or relocate several other homes located in the same area, due to their location being in a floodplain.
Royer said the city had hoped to restore the home, which had old rod-iron and Victorian work, though most of that had been looted.
In October, Neosho Fire Chief Mike Eads reported to council that a fire had burnt a hole through the floor of a second-story room. He said the fire was suspected to have been arson.
The city has the house boarded and locked up, while Royer has worked for the last year to determine a way to salvage the home, including meeting with state representatives, the director of Missouri State Parks, representatives from the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Newton County Historical Society.
"Unfortunately, due to looting of significant historical items in and on the house, the cost and burden of the restoration would mainly fall on the city," reads information provided in the council packet.
The estimated cost for hazardous materials inspections and the demolition, based on the city's previous demolition projects of the Baptist Church formerly located on the corner of Jefferson and Main Streets, and the old Frye and Gray building, formerly located at Lafayette and E. Spring St., would come to approximately $7,650. That estimate does not include the price of removing any hazardous materials found during the inspection process.
City staff has recommended that the council choose to either proceed with the hazardous materials inspection and demolition of the structure, or to surplus and sale the house and property.
In other business, the council will also consider allowing the Neosho Police Department to apply for a Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) grant through the U.S. Department of Justice, which could fund anywhere from 25 percent to 75 percent of an officer's salary for up to three years.
If approved, the grant would go toward funding the hire of a new officer in the 2014 budget.
Page 2 of 3 - The Neosho Police Department currently has five remaining officer positions left vacant from the personnel cuts made in 2010, after the city's financial turmoil forced the department to cut down from a staff of 26 to 11.
The police department is now up to 21, with the addition of two officers last fall, and two more in April.
In other business, council is expected to:
• Take a final vote on two ordinances that would ban the sale of synthetic drugs in Neosho city limits. Ordinance 215.680 would prohibit "the sale, offer for sale, purchase with intent to sell or public display for sale, of synthetic stimulant bath salts, synthetic cathinones, synthetic amphetamines and other synthetic stimulants that mimic illegal drugs." Meanwhile, ordinance 215.690 would prohibit the same actions for synthetic cannabinoid herbal incense.
• Consider on final reading an alley vacate request from Neosho resident Ronald Bunzel, for the first 156' of the alley on the south side of West Grand Avenue, between 111 West Grand Avenue and 105 West Grand Avenue.
• Consider on final reading annexation of the property located at 2502 Lusk Drive, known as the Links Professional Center.
• Vote on final reading to allow the Neosho Police Department to declare six light bars, five rear transport seats and two half cages surplus, and allow them to be gifted or loaned to another police department. The items are no longer used by Neosho police. The Neosho Police Department is also requesting that council declare as surplus 18 out-dated computers, four monitors and a printer, which are no longer in service.
• Vote on final reading on a proposed budget amendment for the Public Works Department, reflecting expenses from the road improvements at Highway 59 and Clemons Drive.
• Consider approving a contract with Waste Corporation of Missouri, Inc. for the city's trash service.
• Consider financing options for the Neosho Fire Department's new pumper truck, to replace the fire department's 1979 pumper.
• Vote, on first reading, on an amendment to the state block grant agreement between the City of Neosho and the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission, increasing funding for the lighting project at the Neosho airport.
• Consider on first reading amending the Parks Sales Tax budget to allow for the $45,865 restoration of the stairway in Big Spring Park.
• Consider approval of three change orders, the first for $95,862.86 with Rosetta Construction for work on downtown water mains; for $1,683.19 with Rosetta Construction, for Kodiak Road transmission mains; and for $84,512 with David E. Ross Construction for work on the water treatment plant.
• Vote on an agreement with the Missouri Department of Conservation to focus on improvements along Hickory Creek in Morse Park and to recreate a grassland/woodland area in Morse Park. The agreement would provide a grant of $10,000, and would end May 31, 2014.
Page 3 of 3 - • Consider renewing an agreement with the Carthage Humane Society, who provides shelter for stray animals found in Neosho.
• Vote on allowing the city to pay an outstanding Empire Electric bill of $37,013.77 from April 2004.
• Announce vacancies that exist on the airport industrial development board; board of adjustments/zoning; economic development sales tax committee; parks, recreation and golf course board, and the planning and zoning commission, which has received one letter of interest.
• Council is also scheduled to meet in closed session to discuss legal and real estate issues.