The business of road building within the Neosho Transportation Development District can soon get under way, and the Waldo Hatler/Hale McGinty intersection will be a high priority and fully funded up front, after action Friday by the TDD board of directors.

After being unable to get the verbiage straight last week, the TDD board approved its cooperative agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). Vice chairman Jeff Maxwell noted just slight change was needed, basically combining two paragraphs into one. Ray Stipp reported three attorneys reviewed the revised agreement and advised it was ready to sign.

Maxwell said the $4.95 million in financing the TDD acquired through four local banks is in order, and finalization for that was waiting for the signed agreement with MoDOT. He noted one more meeting will be held next week to close on the loan, and the money will then be sent to MODOT, and the agency will then prepare to let bids on the projects this fall.

Attending the meeting remotely by telephone, chairman Steve Roark indicated the TDD will ensure that the Waldo Hatler/Hale McGinty intersection is completed.

“For at least the last six months, MoDOT has been telling us that all of the money had to be deposited up front before they would let any bids,” Roark said. “That was a MoDOT requirement, it was not a TDD requirement, MoDOT has been saying that for months now.

“We have complied. We will deposit our $4.5 million, plus our $80,000 that goes toward that intersection out there, with MoDOT. When we made the request here a week ago that Neosho consider advancing their $100,000, it was in the spirit of what MoDOT has been asking us to do for six months time, that is to get the money deposited with them up front.”

Roark said the MoDOT director has made that requirement.

“MODOT has, I think, become very disgusted with the way they have been treated here in Neosho, and their desire to have all that money up front is to make sure that there is no kind of glitch on their letting bids on something and not having the money to back it up,” he said.

Roark indicated the board was prepared to ensure that $100,000 was available to MoDOT up front.

“For the city, if they want to pay theirs early, great, it will save us having to borrow it, but we’re prepared to go out and borrow the money to put that up on the table for MoDOT to make sure that Waldo Hatler/Hale McGinty intersection gets completed,” he said.

Roark said that intersection near the middle school has been a priority for every board member, to improve the safety in that area near the school. Responding to a column by Mayor Richard Davidson in Friday’s Neosho Daily News, he said felt it did not accurately portray what the TDD board has been about, and reiterated that MoDOT has asked for six months to have all monies up front.

Both Davidson and city manager Troy Royer commented after the city was asked informally the previous Friday to provide that money up front. Royer said earlier that he was surprised when told the money was needed as soon as possible. He said the agreement the city signed with the TDD more than two years ago specifies that the city would pay its share upon completion of the project.

Royer explained the city money targeted for the project is derived from TIF (Tax Increment Financing district) funds, and can only be used in the TIF area, and the intersection near the school is not in that area. He noted that once the project was complete, then the city would release funds to the TDD for improvements in the area where the TDD and the TIF overlap. A full explanation from Royer is available in last Tuesday’s edition of the NDN.

Davidson provided an explanation of the legal destination for those funds, and also noted in his column that he was “perturbed” the recent request that city funds for the project be paid in advance offered the risk that the project would be pushed aside if they were not.

After Roark commented, TDD board member Gene Schwartz made a motion to borrow the $100,000.

“Forget about the city,” said Schwartz. “They’ll come in later.”

The board then voted to approve that motion by consensus. Because Roark was not physically in attendance Friday, he was unable to vote on that motion. The board then voted on the same motion again, by acclimation. Schwartz said that made it unanimous.

Mike Franks, executive director, Neosho Area Business & Industrial Foundation, Inc. (NABIFI), praised the TDD board for its perseverance, as Friday’s signing marks the end of an approximately four-year effort to move these projects forward.

“It is impossible to underestimate what this means to the people of the city of Neosho, not just the retail it makes possible, not just the safety that it puts in there, but the improvements it will make to the entire west side of the city,” Franks said.

Franks added what was a great project when it was conceived several years ago is even more valuable today.