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City studying park proposal from county

Aldermen hold closed session with park board

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

City of Platte City officials Tuesday night continued to study the recent proposal for a joint park project from Platte County.

The mayor and board of aldermen met in a closed session with the city's park and recreation board following the aldermen's regularly scheduled meeting. City officials somewhat curiously closed the meeting to the public and the media, citing RSMo 610.021(2) and "park land acquisition" as the reason for the closed session, even though under the current proposal it is the county—not the city—that would be purchasing the land for the park.

Second District County Commissioner Steve Wegner, who first presented the park partnership idea to the aldermen at a public meeting two weeks ago, attended Tuesday night's closed meeting, apparently to provide further details of the proposal.

"It's in the infant stages. We listened to his (Wegner's) presentation," Mayor Dave Brooks said Wednesday morning.

Brooks said no timeline for a decision from the city on whether it will take part in the joint project has been established, but added: "There's probably not going to be any decision for a while. There's too much to think about. We need to decide whether we want to do it or not."

Two weeks ago Wegner told city officials the county would be willing to buy up to 200 acres of ground to be used as park land. The ground would need to be within three miles of the city limits of Platte City in order for the city to legally take part in the joint project, he said.

The land would be purchased using receipts from the county's half cent sales tax for parks.

Wegner would not confirm it this week, but sources say the search for the ground has been narrowed to two tracts of land north of Platte City. One tract consists of 210 acres, the other 94 acres.

Wegner earlier said the county wants assurance that the city is willing to partner in the project. "We won't go it alone. We don't want to be park operators."

The issue for Platte City will be finding money to be used for developing and operating the park. Platte City has it its own half cent sales tax dedicated to parks, which takes in about $350,000 annually.

"I'd be surprised if any decisions were made before fall," Brooks said. "It's a large commitment for the city and the parks board. Although it's a marvelous opportunity, somebody still has to pay the bill."

The county is in the process of having appraisals done on potential park ground.

In other business Tuesday night, the board of aldermen approved in a 5-1 split vote for the city to pick up the nearly $10,000 cost for installing sidewalks on 10 properties in Tudor Flats. The action came against a recommendation from City Administrator Keith Moody and despite opposition from Alderman Lee Roy Van Lew.

Moody said the subdivision was initially platted in the county, designed to the city's subdivision regulations and subsequently brought into the city under a friendly annexation. The properties lacking sidewalks were to have constructed sidewalks, Moody said.

The city administrator recommended the board move forward with the construction of the sidewalks that are incomplete and assessing the costs to the property owners.

"Their neighbors paid to construct their sidewalks and it is unfair for these property owners to not construct the sidewalks," Moody said in a memo to the board.

Several of the affected property owners were in attendance. Some said they did not agree to constructing sidewalks at the time they signed on for the friendly annexation.

"You're trying to reach into somebody's back pocket. Nobody brought up sidewalks to us when we were annexed," said Randy Stewart, property owner.

Alderman Gary Brown said he believes the city was lacking in not requiring the builder to install sidewalks at the time of construction.

Alderman Shelle Browning initially recommended more research to view documents that would have been signed at the time of the friendly annexation, but later voted in favor of a motion made by Jim Palmer and seconded by Ron Porter to have the city cover all costs associated with installing the sidewalks.

Van Lew was the only alderman voting opposed, indicating he felt the action would set a precedent that may come back to haunt the city in the future.

In other action:
•The board approved a conditional use permit that will allow the Bank of Weston to use temporary trailer offices on property the bank owns east of I-29 along Hwy. 92. The bank, which recently announced the sale of its Tracy building to the Platte County Regional Sewer District, eventually plans to construct a permanent building at that location. The temporary structure will be a prefabricated mobile building, metal finish with a factory-applied painted finish.

•Aldermen approved changes that relax the city's temporary sign (banner) ordinance. Banners may now be displayed for a maximum of 120 cumulative days during one calendar year. New language provides for an application and a fee to be paid for banners, but the deposit requirement has been removed. Maximum sign area of a banner is tied to the maximum sign area allowed for a site, based upon the square footage of the face of the building to which it is attached.

•Brooks said he is moving forward with plans to have CPR classes offered at the Community Center. Members of the public who might be interested should call the mayor at city hall.