In the regular meeting of the Neosho City Council on Tuesday, council members approved the remaining items necessary to proceed with applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The grant, if approved, will be used to buyout seven designated flood zones in Neosho. The grant application and supporting documents must be in by the October 25 deadline. The city expects to learn how much money will be awarded to Neosho in November or December this year.
Once approval for the CDBG is made, the city will be required to select an appraiser by the end of 2019. The next step would be for residents of the seven zones to make application.
The buyout is voluntary and any offers made will be based on the property values before the 2017 flooding. Those who received assistance from FEMA or private insurance would have that amount deducted from the offer.
"We have questions and we need answers," Dorothy Humphrey, who both lives and owns rental property in one of the flood zones, said. She stated she's attended all the meetings and she's been asking questions throughout the process. Like other homeowners, she's uncertain just how the buyout will progress and whether or not she will get a fair value for her property. Many residents have expressed concerns at previous public meetings that they fear that offers won't be enough to allow them to purchase another home.
A seventh zone was added to the original six by the council on Tuesday. Zone 7 runs concurrent to the eastern side of Neosho Boulevard between Walnut Drive and South Street.
Areas that are part of the buyout will be cleared, then the space is limited to wetlands, a park, a hiking or biking trail or for retention ponds.
The process is expected to be completed in about three years.
In other business, the council heard from Kim Noah, Neosho, who shared issues she's experienced with WCA, the city's contracted trash service provider. Concerns have been raised for several months now. Representatives from WCA were present at the meeting and had the opportunity to speak.
Paul Richardson, In-Sane Marketing, provided a report on the annual Neosho Fall Festival. Richardson was hired by the city three weeks prior to the event and Mayor Bill Doubek stated that without his assistance, there might not have been a fall festival. Richardson, former Public Relations and Communications Director for the City of Neosho, worked with Nancy Thomlinson, who manages the Neosho Senior Center to ensure that the festival was held as planned. At the time he was hired to manage the event, there were 112 vendors, a number he increased to 185. City officials stated that the event was well-attended, despite some rain on the second day of the two-day event.
The council also approved on final reading an adjustment to the city's water/sewer leak policy that now will allow homeowners to correct any problems, provided they gain approval from a city inspector.
The next meeting of the Neosho City Council will be Tuesday, November 5 at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Neosho City Hall, located on the southeast corner of the historic downtown square.