Discussion of Transportation Development District (TDD) priorities and a cooperative agreement revision were on the agenda when Neosho City Council met Tuesday.
Mayor Richard Davidson reported that he had been approached by Dan Salisbury, Missouri Department of Transportation area engineer, at MoDOT’s public meeting held last week to showcase preliminary plans for road improvements within the TDD.
Davidson said Salisbury requested that the city look at a revised agreement regarding the roads being placed inside the TDD, and the city taking ownership of those roads once they are completed. Council then directed city attorney Steven Hays to meet with TDD directors and MoDOT to determine how the revision affects the city and to then report back to council at their next meeting.
Davidson continued that he was approached at that public meeting with questions he could not answer concerning Kodiak Road.
“Back in 2008-2009 the school district was asked to spend $850,000 to have some roads built around the middle school and Carver,” he said. “And the question was asked of me, ‘Whose idea was it that 850 (thousand) be paid?’”
Davidson explained that the TDD had not yet been formed
Hays replied that landowners within the future TDD, along with some city and economic development officials were involved in those discussions. Answering Davidson’s question of why the school district only, and none of the other area landowners, was asked to pay, Hays stated that discussion was, “To do this was a benefit to the school, if the school had to pay for it, it would have been much greater than the $800/$850,000 that they were asking the school to contribute. And they believed that the school should contribute since they were technically saving the school some money by doing these improvements.”
Under continued questioning from Davidson, Hays answered that none of the other landowners were asked to contribute, though they also would benefit from the projects.
“Obviously those individuals were set to gain in their property values,” retorted Hays.
Davidson said there was concern at the time whether a school could pay an entity to build roads, and a review of state statutes regarding how schools can borrow money states that schools can do so for curbing and paving of streets adjoining and abutting real estate of the district.
“I think even at that time there was concern that Kodiak and a number of those roads certainly didn’t adjoin and abut, at least in their entirety,” he said.
Davidson said his answer now to those who asked him last Thursday is, “Those were pulled even though they were originally listed for safety concerns as part of the TDD plan.”
Councilman Charles Collinsworth responded that when originally marketed to the public, “Improvement on Kodiak was paramount to the TDD. That was going to be a priority.”
Hays noted, “From the time Dwight Douglas removed himself and the county removed itself as sponsor, and the city was requested to step in as the sponsor for the TDD, up until the first amended petition, Kodiak was clearly the main force driving the purpose of the TDD.”
Davidson said a contingent of TDD directors met with the school district in 2009, and the school’s request for a lesser contribution was turned aside. He said the reply back to the schools, “Gave the impression that the project would move forward but probably would include less improvements, specifically for schools north of [U.S.] Highway 60.”
TDD board chairman Steve Roark responded earlier that improvements to Kodiak Road are in phase-two of the TDD plan.
“That includes Kodiak Road, and the intersection of Kodiak Road with Waldo Hatler,” he said.
Roark said phase-one will be completed first, and he is optimistic that they will also be able to complete the projects in phase-two.
In the meantime, Roark said it is unsure what effect phase-one improvements will have on traffic flow on Kodiak, as Hale McGinty is extended from in front of the middle school to Highway 60 with a new traffic light.
“It could be significant, in terms of diverting traffic off of Kodiak Road — time will tell whether it does or not — but Kodiak Road is still in phase two of our projects, anyway,” he said.
If the city comes up with its share of the money, Roark said the intersection at Hale McGinty and Waldo Hatler will be widened and improved, probably in the summer of 2015.
The TDD preliminary plans showcased at the May 29 public meeting may be viewed on MoDOT’s website at www.modot.org/southwest, with the opportunity to submit comments and questions by email. Comments may be submitted up to ten working days after the meeting date.