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Improvements to parks, entertainment district given green light by WP council


Business taken care of during Monday’s meeting of the West Plains City Council included the approval of bids for plans to build an upgraded restroom facility at Galloway Creek Park, improvements at the Hilburn Sports Complex and the purchase of a skid steer for the transportation department, all part of the evening's consent agenda.

The restroom facility will be a prefabricated concrete double restroom, expected to cost $78,268 from vendor CXT. It will replace the existing single-tank style restroom, which has no running water, and would be a septic-style unit with flushing toilets and sinks. Parks Manager Mike Davis noted the facilities will be similar to restroom facilities seen at Missouri state parks. Budgeted at $125,000, the recommended bid will leave about $47,000 for site preparation and the septic system, Davis said.

With the Hilburn Complex also falling under Parks Department responsibilities, Davis submitted his recommendations for lighting and shading at the ballpark, located near the West Plains High School, and those were also accepted by council members. The shading is intended to improve the comfort and safety of spectators by providing shade over the bleachers. The lowest bid, for eight shade structures, came from All Inclusive Rec of Farmington at about $40,000, but will have to be replaced every five years. With $60,000 set aside for the shade project, about $20,000 is left over to go toward the construction of a batter’s eye screen on Givehand Field. A batter’s eye screen is a solid-colored area beyond centerfield in direct line of sight of a batter awaiting a pitch, designed to help the batter see a ball in motion. Two other bids were received for the shade project, for about $45,000 and $42,000.

The lighting will be replaced existing with brighter, safer, and more efficient LED lighting that should reduce operation and maintenance costs. Again, city council approved the lowest bid received and recommended by Davis, from LED Lighting Supply of New Hampshire, at about $43,000. About $60,000 has been budgeted, he said, and the extra could also go toward the installation of the batter’s eye screen.

Transportation Director Brian Mitchell recommended a bid of $96,381 from West Plains company Edgeller & Harper for a Kubota skid steer to be used to mow creek banks, and passed. The bid was the only one out of six submitted to come under the $100,000 budget allotted for the purchase.

A Peterbilt over-the-road truck that will be used for trash disposal by the Sanitation Department will replace an older truck that has become costly to maintain, Utilities Director Shayne Eades said in submitting a bid recommendation. Council members okayed the truck for about $194,000 through Sourcewell, under the $290,000 set aside for it.

The HVAC system at the West Plains Public Library, which has become unreliable and inefficient after about 30 years of service, will be replaced at an estimated cost of $129,000 from local vendor Wood Mechanical of West Plains, despite being over the $125,000 budget. Purchasing Agent Kristopher Bates pointed out the company had the lowest bid and since they are local would be more readily available for service calls and maintenance. The extra $4,000 needed would come from the library’s Buildings and Grounds budget, he added.


Guest Bob Wallen of Bob's Plumbing made a statement on behalf of city water customers and local plumbers regarding the cost of city water utilities, and commented water bills seemed to be inexplicably high for some of them.

Wallen added he had checked the meters of some customers, and they seemed to be operating normally, but the water bills seemed to be high when considering usage. Other customers appeared to have high bills even during times when they hadn't been living at their property, he commented.

Wallen concluded by asking council members to look into possible billing or metering errors for water customers.


Second readings of bills that were passed as ordinance were a bill regarding the enforcement of nuisance violations, specifically the overgrowth of grass and weeds. The changes were proposed by West Plains City Police Department Code Enforcement Officer Tracy Morris, for the purpose of promoting "the safety, health, and welfare of the residents of the City of West Plains. To clarify the notification process; simplify the penalty section; add abatement motivating fine scheduling; shorten the time limit allotted for compliance to cut tall weeds and grass."

A budget amendment was passed that included a net decrease to balances of about $466,000 in governmental funds and $981,000 in utility funds. City Financial Director Earlene Rich noted most balances are offset by the end-of-year balance in 2023 being higher than what was estimated while budgeting for 2024 last fall. The biggest changes, she added, will come through incomplete projects and purchases budgeted last year and carried forward in the current year, partially offset by related grants and American Rescue Plan funding reserved since receipt in 2022.

Also passed in second reading was the creation of an entertainment district in the downtown area, including an ordinance that would allow customers that bought alcohol from licensed businesses within the district to carry their cups from the business.

When asked what would keep individuals from bringing their own alcoholic beverages to the area and drinking them instead, City Planning Director Emily Gibson said there would be a clearly marked designated area, she had discussed it with Police Chief Stephen Monticelli and was confident the rules could be enforced.

The boundary will run from roughly First Street from Jefferson Avenue to St. Louis Street, East Broadway to North Howell Avenue, East Main Street to South Curry Street, west two blocks to Walnut Street, south a block to Leyda Street, west to an invisible line drawn north along the west side of West Main Plaza on West Main Street, then east a block to Langston Street, then north to West Cass Street behind the Yellow House Community Arts Center, then east a block to Jefferson Avenue and heading north to First Street.


Resolutions passed gave Topliff permission to enter into a contract with CivicPlus, doing business as MuniCodes, to continue to print, supplement and maintain the city’s published and online codes of ordinances, and to enter into a memorandum of understanding between the city and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and make grant applications related to rail infrastructure and safety.

Specifically, the latter resolution will allow the city to explore available federal funding for the possible closure of some railroad crossings within city limits and the construction of overpasses at others.

Murrell asked if there would be a chance for residents to weigh in, and Topliff commented more public input would be called for if the grants were given.

The projects would be contingent upon the amount of funding available and the city's ability to fulfill their part of the grant as a match, City Administrator Sam Anselm said.

He added the crossing at Howell Avenue near Broadway was discussed, with an overpass built to accommodate vehicle traffic, at an estimated total cost of about $22 million total. The design could include a roundabout at the intersection of those streets and another further north on Howell Avenue.

Potential crossing closures would be east of that location at Grace Avenue and Howell Avenue, with a side street that would connect that neighborhood back to Howell Avenue, a part of the grant requirements would be to close either the railroad crossing at Lincoln Avenue or Washington Avenue.

Anselm reminded council the city had commissioned a study of all at-grade crossings in 2015, as part of the railroad overpass project on Independence Avenue now underway. He cautioned the grant might not be given anyway, but the application deadline is next month. Topliff commented that when the grant is given, more public input will be sought, and Anselm said an updated traffic study would be undertaken.

Anselm concluded the meeting with a wrap-up of the Eclipse West Plains Party in the Path event, and said travelers from about three dozen states attended the .38 Special concert that opened the weekend, and the city should know more about the financial impact when sales taxes are reported by the state in June and July.