by Valerie Verkamp
Sightseers should soon be able to once again view the Missouri River from Main Street at Parkville without sandbags in their line of sight.
The Parkville Board of Aldermen has voted to begin removing sandbags and portadams from its downtown area which had been threatened by potential high water earlier this summer. The sandbags have been in place since early June.
At a special aldermen meeting on Wednesday, Kurt Rome, the city’s public works director, recommended to the board that the appropriate time to begin removing sandbags is now.
“Probably the first place we would concentrate on would be on the opening to Harvey Drive on the Main Street sandbag levee,” he said.
Rome informed the board that he has received many inquiries from the public expressing their desire to obtain some of the sandbags for personal use, as well as commercial use.
Mayor Gerry Richardson said he believes the city should use voluntary labor when offered, but expressed his concern in that some of the sandbags actually have lime rather than sand.
“Some of them are intermingled, but a lot of them are palletized based on whether they came from the sand pile or from the lime pile. Most of the lime dust bags I think are around the treatment plant,” he stated.
Kirk Rome stated this week that the city will receive bids on tree removal from English Landing Park, the clean-up of silt, and the removal of sandbags.
He stated that the bags around the pump station should be the last priority to be dealt with. He also acknowledged the possibly that those bags could be contaminated. The city's plan is to have either a contractor remove these bags or to have the city staff dispose of them in a landfill. The bags were viewed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and were determined to not pose any sort of danger.
“How is the cleanup and sanitation of the area behind the Main Street sandbag wall?” inquired Alderman Nan McManus.
Kirk stated that the fire department may help out in hosing down the streets. In the meantime, barricades would be utilized to keep people out certain areas.
“From an emergency management perspective I am kind of concerned about removing sandbags if the Corps (of Engineers) recommended to keep them,” Alderman Chris Fisher stated. Previously, the Corps recommended keeping the sandbags in place until the river was two feet back in its banks. According to Rome, the river is sitting below the action state.
Mayor Richardson expressed his opinion that they were never going to get the Corps of Engineers to recommend the removal of the sandbags.
Chief of Police Kevin Chrisman says, “We are not totally out of the potential for flooding. Will we ever get to the magnitude of it coming over the tracks? I wish I had a crystal ball. I would say the educated guess, probably not.”
He went on to say that he recommends that Harvey Road be opened up.
Discussions then focused on how the city would manage to keep the public out of the possibly contaminated areas until officials were able clean up the mess left behind.
He suggested that barricades be put up on Main Street just north of McAfee to block traffic until the area is proper cleaned.
“We want to make it clear that (anyone is) still subject to a summons to crossing the barrier. It is not a safe zone as of yet, even though we got the preliminary word,” he stated last Wednesday.
Following the board's meeting, the plan that was enacted allows local residents the opportunity to obtain free bags of sand from Main Street (just south of the railroad crossing) on Sept. 6-8 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After the sandbags are removed from Main Street the public may obtain sandbags from the parking lot of the Parkville Nature Sanctuary, as well as at the Parkville depot just off of Hwy. 9.
According to the city of Parkville website, further assistance in dumping out additional sandbags is welcome.
In other business, the aldermen voted unanimously to keep the current tax levy of $0.6543 for all taxable property for the year of 2011. The board also discussed the possibility of lowering the tax levy next year.