Neosho discusses Broadway Street closure

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

The Neosho City Council met on Jun. 15 for their bi-monthly meeting, closing out unfinished business, introducing new ordinances, discussing new business, and discussing the closure of a section of Broadway Street.

The public hearing for bill no. 2021-68, the closing of a section of Broadway Street, had the most discussion with multiple residents that live in the area, speaking.

On May 11, the Planning and Zoning Commission met and discussed a letter from resident Mary Hyde that requested the closure of Broadway Street, from Benham Avenue to Sherman Avenue, because it was not being used or maintained.

They ultimately voted 7-0 to recommend vacating that section of road.

Hyde’s letter said that the city had abandoned that part of Broadway Street when they repaved the roads on the north end of town.  

It also stated that the only use it gets is cars racing down the strip and people parking their cars to get to the park or when tournaments are going on.

Teresa Niswonger lives in the city limits but visits her mother, who lives at the section of the proposed closure, often.

During the public hearing on Jun. 15, Niswonger said her mother has lived there since 2003 and always had access both ways through Wall street and Broadway street and that they didn’t know about the potential closure until Memorial Day when they were removing sets of cones blocking the way.

One of the issues Niswonger raised had to do with where her mother’s trash can would have to be brought in order to have her trash picked up, a half a block away.

“My mom hadn’t heard anything about that,” said Niswonger. “At that point, Mary (Hyde) told her that she would have (Public Works Director Nate Siler) from the city call her the next morning to officially tell her that trash needed to be out there. My mom did not receive a call from the city.”

Niswonger said she went door to door to talk to some of the neighbors on Jul. 10 and the majority of those she talked to weren’t in favor of it.

Debbie Pisoni, one of the neighbors in favor of the closing, spoke at the public hearing.

“I’ve lived in a house there 20, 40 years,” said Pisoni. “I had a no parking sign put on that strip that we want closed several year ago because we have men that come with their cameras and park in my front yard, facing my house, taking pictures of ‘the train.’”

“The train tracks are extremely close to my house,” added Pisoni. “I am a woman in her late sixties that lives alone and I’m not happy or comfortable with strange people coming or parking in my front lawn…to go fishing or go play frisbee golf or whatever they want.”

Pisoni added that when she would point out the no parking sign to people who parked there, she is called names and that calling the police does nothing as the offenders were “long gone” before anyone could get there.

“It’s just not fair to us as citizens that pay our taxes,” said Pisoni. “And the fact that you dint pave it when you repaved the entire north end (of the city), it’s the only road on the entire north end that didn’t get paved. As a city, you have abandoned it and not paved it and it needs to go at this point. This is where we’re at, this is why we want the road closed.”

After the public hearing, council discussed bill 2021-68.

Development Services Director Rachel Holcomb said that the city had been talking to Hyde about the issue for about a year and then took questions from council.

Holcomb acknowledged that signs notifying the public of hearings for the proposed closure hadn’t been there at the beginning of the process but that they had been posted since.

Councilman Charles Collinsworth asked about the length of the delay in getting the signs out and the answer received was that when the Planning and Zoning meeting was held to discuss the issues, the signs weren’t out but were shortly after.

“I feel that we botched this thing from the get-go,” said Collinsworth. “And had anyone wanted to come and speak at Planning and Zoning, they did not know about it. And they lost their opportunity, so now they’re making it known tonight. I think perhaps we don’t have a 7-0 vote in Planning and Zoning meeting if this is vetted out and discussed among the people, I don’t know.”

Holcomb also added that Hyde was the only person she had spoken to but didn’t hear any other complaints pertaining to where the trash cans would have to be located and that they hadn’t yet been in contact with Republic about it.

City Manager David Kennedy talked about other dead-end streets in the city and said that those residents are not required to bring their cans to the end of the road and said those discussions could be had with Republic.

“I tend to agree,” said Kennedy. “if I’ve got a residence, I’m going to put my trashcan in front my residence and not drag it a half block or block down the road. I don’t think that’ll be an issue.”

Holcomb asked what other information council might need to make a decision.

One of the responses was to see if there were recorded complaints of people improperly using the private property as had been brought up in the public hearing, while another asked about where the trash cans would have to be taken if the road was closed.

Another council comment asked what the city would want to do with the alleyway if the closure is to go through.

The first of two readings, council agreed to postpone the discussion of the bill until the Jul. 6 council meeting while directing Holcomb to send letters to the property owners in the area about the next public hearing planned for the next council meeting.

Before council agreed to postpone the discussion, Collinsworth said the priorities before the next meeting needed to be figuring out the trash situation and police responses to the area.

“I just feel like maybe this didn’t get fully vetted ahead of time,” said Collinsworth. “It might not change anything; it might change everything. I just feel like the process got shortchanged.”