Meta aldermen decide against driveway at the park

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 8/27/21

A permit was approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) for a driveway to be constructed at the Meta City Park, with or without a culvert, but aldermen at their Aug. 11 meeting …

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Meta aldermen decide against driveway at the park

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A permit was approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) for a driveway to be constructed at the Meta City Park, with or without a culvert, but aldermen at their Aug. 11 meeting decided not to pursue it.

MoDOT in its permit allowed for the entrance to be developed without a culvert as long as drainage was maintained and provided until Nov. 3 to complete work on its right-of-way along Hwy. 133.

Alderman Steve Sherrell argued that a culvert was not necessary as it wouldn’t push water, and the driveway would only be used a couple of times per year for large events such as the July Fourth celebration or tournaments.

“I don’t see spending the money,” Sherrell said.

“I don’t mind spending the money when it’s truly going to be an improvement,” said Alderman Ivie Helton. “If it’s not going to make any difference whether we put a pipe there, are we just spending money to not improve anything? If we want people to utilize that space, we need to make it so they can.”

Helton added that now is the time to do it, with a permit in hand, rather than wait and regret later not having done it.

The driveway would allow access from Hwy. 133 so that people could park near the tennis courts. During the July Fourth celebration, several people were able to negotiate a small incline to access the area, and improving that approach led to the application for the permit.

Sherrell said MoDOT would allow for the development of the driveway without a culvert, meaning all the city needed was gravel. “There’s already a slope there,” he added, noting it won’t flood the area.

Maintenance employees Kenny Loethen and Mitch Stumpe agreed that water comes across the highway and would likely wash out any culvert that was in place.

With that in mind, Sherrell suggested there is no sense in using a culvert since it won’t carry water anyway.

“There’s already a natural grade in there,” he said. “It’s not like we’re going over a ditch.”

It was noted that those who used the incline to access the parking area had no trouble, which bolstered the case against installing a culvert.

Stumpe said years ago vandalism led to the placement of cable to prevent vehicles from entering outside the main entrance. That cable would have to be removed to allow access.

“We can just leave it the way it is,” said Sherrell.

However, if a driveway is built with access from Hwy. 133, the specs outlined in the permit must be followed.

“You have to do one or the other,” said Mayor Emily Sommerer. “You can’t just decide to throw down gravel. Since they gave us the permit, you have to do what they say here.”

Alderman Lawrence Hoffman asked if the plan was to create a gravel parking lot near the tennis courts.

Helton said she fears that the gravel placed on the lot would wash away with the first big storm.

She added that it may be best to hold off on any improvements and revisit the issue next spring, at which time the board can consider options ahead of the next July Fourth celebration.

Aldermen agreed and tabled the issue.

Buechter will contact MoDOT and explain the situation.

In other business, Buechter told the board she needed to file paperwork for American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds and asked whether she should have funds sent to the state of Missouri.

“Hell, no,” said City Attorney Nathan Nickolaus. 

“That’s kind of what I thought,” Buechter replied, noting she will indicate that city funds should go to Meta.

“Why would we give it to the state of Missouri?” Nicholaus asked.

ARPA funds may be used for stormwater improvements, which should include drainage issues around City Hall, for which aldermen approved having Bartlett & West proceed with the development of a conceptual design at a cost of $4,750.

“Unless like you want to get into things like bonuses for employees or funding for businesses, the public works side of it is pretty easy,” said Nickolaus. “It’s water, sewer, and stormwater.”

Helton said if the funds can be used to correct drainage at City Hall, the money the city would have spent would then be freed up for other projects.

While an exact figure to correct the drainage issue is not known at this time, Nickolaus noted that once the funds are secure, the city has until 2024 to allocate them.

“You don’t have to tell them in advance how you’re going to spend it,” Nickolaus added. “That’s the difference between ARPA and CARES Act funding.”

* Nickolaus told the board that Dollar General has signed the paperwork for voluntary annexation into the city. That means the process can begin, with a hearing publicized at least seven days prior to the next regular meeting. If there are no objections to the annexation after a 14-day waiting period following the hearing, the city can annex the property by ordinance. 

Nickolaus said objections are highly unlikely since this is a voluntary annexation but if there are objections, the city must hold an election to annex the land.

Nickolaus added that collections of local sales tax would begin in January 2022, and the first checks would begin arriving sometime after March.

* Nickolaus will continue to pursue civil cases against nuisance property owners at the direction of the city. He asked that city employees begin documenting the state of such properties with photos.

* Buechter noted that Maguire Iron used a robot to complete its inspection of the water tower without having to drain it. That means the city can make the $25,400 payment of the five-year installment plan due with the company. The city should have a report in the next few weeks.

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