A first-reading bill was held at Springfield City Council on Aug. 7 that would provide the funding mechanism necessary for improvements to the Cooper and Killian sports complexes.
The $27.4 million funding package comprises $13.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act grant funds appropriated by the Missouri General Assembly, along with a local match of nearly $14 million, said David Holtmann, the city’s director of finance.
The local match includes $5 million in fiscal 2023 general fund carryover funds and over $630,000 committed by the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc. Holtmann noted that part of the carryover funds has been allocated to uses such as an increase in the city’s reserves.
“With this commitment of $5 million, with the increased requirement for our reserve fund and with our payment for the special election, that will take out the majority of our revenue carryover for fiscal 2023,” Holtmann said, referencing the $250,000 cost for the Aug. 8 special election. “I just want to make sure everyone understands where we are as it related to excess revenues for the past fiscal year.”
Council members were bullish about the funding package.
“This is a good problem to have,” said Councilmember Abe McGull. “I think this is a prudent use of tax dollars. I’m just tickled pink that we’re able to get the money from the state.”
Councilmember Craig Hosmer agreed, calling the project “smart economic development” for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board facilities.
“This is going to be a great economic development project because I think it’s a broad-based economic development that’s going to help restaurants, hotels, motels, short-term rentals,” he said. “I think it makes a lot of sense.”
Council is scheduled to vote on the measure, which Holtmann said has “been in the works for over five years,” at its Aug. 21 meeting.
In November 2022, the Park Board kicked off improvements to the Cooper and Killian sports complexes, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. The project calls for synthetic turf at 19 soccer, baseball and softball fields at Cooper Park, stadium enhancements, additional spectator seating, locker rooms, restrooms, concession stands, accessible pathways and parking. When the project is completed, Cooper Park will have three anchor sports facilities: Cooper Tennis Complex, Lake Country Soccer Complex and the 11 baseball and softball fields that make up the Cooper and Killian sports complexes.
“This is transformational, no question about it,” Park Board Director Bob Belote said at the Aug. 7 meeting. “First and foremost, this is for our own kids and our own families.”
Adjacent to Buc-ee’s
On the docket were two bills calling on council to annex and rezone roughly 28 acres of private property adjacent to the Buc-ee’s travel center that’s under construction in northeast Springfield.
The parcel, owned by the Jerry M. Tolbert Trust and HWH Strategy LLC, is immediately east of the Buc-ee’s site.
BRP Architects’ Geoffrey Butler, who represented the applicant, told council the property owner was seeking the annexation and rezoning measures to make way for a sale.
“The buyer of this property is a trucking dealer,” he said, noting the company is similar to Peterbilt but declined to disclose the name. “They want to be there primarily because of its exposure to I-44. It’s a logical expansion.”
Council is scheduled to vote on the measures on Aug. 21.
The property would be rezoned to a city highway commercial district with conditional overlay from a Greene County agriculture district.
The Springfield Buc-ee’s, with plans for 100 gas pumps, is slated to be the first in Missouri for the Texas-based chain. Plans call for the 53,000-square-foot travel center to have multiple food options and a large gift shop.
Council approved a bill that allows the municipality to enter into a Surface Transportation Block Grant Program agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.
Tom Dancey, city traffic engineer, said the cost-share agreement means $2.45 million of the $3.1 million total for planned purchases would be funded by federal dollars, with the local match coming from eighth-cent transportation sales tax fund balance reserves.
Dancey provided myriad examples of ways the funding would be used, including for the purchase of traffic monitoring cameras, traffic signal heads, accessible pedestrian signals, vehicle detection systems and dynamic message signs.
Councilmember Hosmer asked Dancey how much each individual camera costs and the approximate amount it would take to cover the entire city for the sake of assisting the Springfield Police Department in its efforts.
At around $2,500 per camera, Dancey estimated citywide coverage would cost roughly $400,000. His presentation to council showed $172,500 in planned camera purchases.
“It seems like in the long run that $2,500 per intersection would be money well spent. They’re already understaffed 50 officers,” Hosmer said.
Dancey said with existing cameras in place and new ones to be purchased, Springfield is well on its way to canvassing the entire city.
“We have many of our intersections that are already covered with these,” he said.
Council held a first reading of an ordinance that would allow the city to enter into a license agreement with Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. related to a site contaminated with chemicals near Springfield-Branson National Airport.
Dan Smith, director of Public Works, said the ordinance would allow Northrop Grumman to install and maintain monitoring wells on public right of way near the 4811 W. Kearney St. site at no cost to the municipality.
Northrop Grumman purchased the former Litton Industries property in 2001, according to past reporting.
Chris Maxwell, a geologist with international business Stantec Consulting, which he said would serve as the construction management company for the wells, told council that under Litton’s operation, the property became contaminated with the chemical compound trichloroethylene during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s in the manufacturing of circuit boards. It has been monitored for decades by regulators amid cleanup efforts.
“In my professional opinion, it’s not getting bigger. There’s a lot of cleanup that’s ongoing,” Maxwell said.
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