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City Beat: Council looks to expand, connect city greenways trails

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A trio of agenda items at the Oct. 16 meeting of Springfield City Council aims to connect portions of the city’s greenways trail system.

Council voted to accept one grant and held public hearings on the acceptance of two others, with votes scheduled for Nov. 6.

Council accepted $115,242 in federal transportation enhancement grant funds through the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to build a multiuse path through Smith Park, 1536 E. Division St.

Grady Porter, a traffic engineer with Public Works, said the federal funding would cover most of the design and construction of the project, joining the existing Jordan Creek Trail to the newly constructed 10-foot path along Division Street.

The grant also funds flashing pedestrian warning signs at Division Street and Weller Avenue.

The grant provides 80% funding for the project, and the city’s 20% match of $28,810 includes $25,600 from the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. The rest comes from the walkability program of the city’s eighth-cent transportation sales tax.

Hearings were held on two additional bills that would allow the city to enter into a federal carbon reduction program agreement with Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for the design portion of trailways construction.

A $61,295 MHTC grant would provide 80% of the design costs for the $76,619 project to construct a pedestrian and bike path along Sherman Parkway from Jordan Valley Park to Chestnut Expressway, according to the explanation of the bill from Public Works officials.

The report notes the connection would improve walkability and bikeability from downtown venues to Ozarks Technical Community College, Drury University and other amenities on the Jordan Valley Trail. The 20% match of $15,324 would come from the eighth-cent transportation sales tax.

Evan Clark, a city resident who said he commutes by bike along the Sherman Parkway route five days a week, spoke in favor of the measure.

“Seeing a new pathway here is very exciting for me,” he said. “There’s also going to be significant safety changes – positive safety changes.”

Another $96,641 MHTC grant would provide 80% of the design costs for a $120,801 project to build a pedestrian pathway along Sunset Street from Fremont to Glenstone avenues  – connecting the South Creek Trail to the Battlefield Mall and Glenstone corridor. For this grant, too, the city’s match of $24,160 would come from the transportation sales tax.

Design work for the two pending projects would clear the way for construction funds to be provided through the Transportation Alternatives Program of the Federal Highways Administration. The funds are not guaranteed, but they would be in the amounts of $408,636 and $644,270, respectively, according to the explanations of the bills.

One of the top 10 initiatives of the city’s Forward SGF 20-year comprehensive plan, adopted by Springfield City Council in November 2022, is to close gaps in the greenways trail network, an initiative dubbed UnGap the Map.

In another walkability measure, council accepted $130,385 in federal transportation enhancement funds through the MHTC to support design of sidewalks along Mount Vernon Street and Miller Avenue. The design cost is $162,981, with the city’s 20% share to come from the walkability program of the eighth-cent transportation sales tax.

The city has prepared a transportation improvement program project to allow the use of $869,236 in federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds that could become available for the construction phase.

Zoning approvals
Council made quick work of approving a set of six zoning measures introduced Oct. 2 without discussion. The following were approved unanimously, with Councilmember Monica Horton absent.

  • A conditional use permit was granted to North Point Church for its Springfield Dream Center property at 829 W. Atlantic St. It allows certain functions, like after-school care and community meals, that may go beyond the purview of a church.
  • The half-acre property at 529 W. Grand St., a site of a City Utilities of Springfield electrical substation, was rezoned to a governmental and institutional use district from residential townhouse to better align with the use of the property.
  • Adjacent to the substation, a 1-acre parcel at 505-509 W. Grand St. and 931-937 S. Market Ave. were rezoned to medium-density multifamily residential from single-family residential and residential townhouse districts to allow for a three-story development with 30 dwelling units by developer Andrew Doolittle with GDL Enterprises LLC.
  • Three acres at 1266 E. Lark. St. was rezoned to general retail from planned development to allow for development of a hotel. The owners of the site are St. James Hotel Properties LLC, organized by Gordon Elliott.
  • A conditional overlay was OK’d for 8 acres at 3900 S. Lone Pine Ave. and 2955-2957 E. Allen Place for a medium density multifamily residential district proposed by Township 28 LLC, which plans to build a 22-unit, three-story walkup on the site.
  • The rezoning of 6 acres at 3601 E. Chestnut Expressway will allow a self-storage facility to be built behind Menards. The property is owned by the Joseph S. Manzardo & Kari J. Manzardo Revocable Trust.

Grants accepted
A $500,000 federal Brownfields Job Training Grant was accepted from the Environmental Protection Agency. Funds will be used to train approximately 100 participants for environmental careers, according to Ericka Schmeeckle, interim director of Workforce Development.

The grant will extend through 2028.

Council also accepted $555,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to support a stormwater improvement project at Division Street and Ohara Avenue.

Chris Dunaway, the chief stormwater engineer in Public Works, said, “This is welcome news due to the lack of funding the city has committed to stormwater infrastructure.”

The grant will improve water quality and relieve frequent flooding, Dunaway said.

Dunaway said over 10 years ago, a task force reviewed stormwater improvement needs in the community and determined there was a need to commit $7 million per year toward it. The city budgets about $1.5 million for stormwater projects annually, he said.

Other action items

  • A community improvement district agreement was approved for the Brody Corners development at the intersection of West Sunshine Street and the James River Freeway for West Sunshine Development LLC. Funds will reimburse improvements and ongoing operating costs throughout the life of the CID.
  • Two grants were accepted to fund the Family Connects Program, which would offer no-cost home visits by nurses to parents of newborns in Greene County. The Musgrave Foundation through Community Partnership of the Ozarks Inc. gave $39,604 and the Missouri Children’s Trust Fund gave $100,000 to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department for the program.
  • Council voted to allocate $600,000 toward the purchase of a former law office at 811-813 N. Boonville Ave. It will house the Risk Management Department during the renovation of the Historic City Hall.
  • A cost-share agreement with the state transportation commission was approved for improvements to a railroad crossing at the intersection of National Avenue and Division Street. MHTC has provided a $750,000 grant toward the $2 million project.
  • Council will vote Nov. 6 on an agreement with Greene County to accept a $217,128 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant would fund a cybercrime investigation vehicle, computers for 12 vehicles and the replacement of cameras on Park Central Square.

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