City moves ahead with master plan

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The city's economic development team of Eugene and Lynette Dilbeck has been authorized to enter into contract negotiations with BWR of Kansas City for the creation of a master plan for the City of Cassville, which will guide growth and development for the next 25 years.

The Dilbecks were given the go-ahead by city aldermen on Monday night after the council received information about three master plan proposals that were received by the city.

The Dilbecks assembled a committee of local business and community leaders to review each of the three proposals and make a recommendation to the council.

Committee members included: the Dilbecks; Mayor Tracy Holle; City Administrator Mike Hayslip; City Alderman Dennis Baker; Randy Stockton, representing the city's Planning and Zoning Commission; Stan Kelley, chairman of the Industrial Development Corporation; and Richard Asbill, president of the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce. Asbill, Kelley and Stockton were all present at Monday night's council meeting in support of the Dilbecks' recommendation.

"It was the unanimous decision of the committee that BWR is the company we wanted to recommend," said Eugene Dilbeck.

BWR, which stands for Bucher, Willis and Ratliff, is also the company that created the city's comprehensive plan back in 1991. That plan is still applicable today and can be used in conjunction with the soon-to-be-crafted master plan.

The Dilbecks said they appreciated the input from committee members and reminded the council that public participation would be an integral part of the master planning process from start to finish.

"This will be an ongoing process, and the public will be involved every step of the way," said Lynette Dilbeck. "This process will fail if the business community and the community at large are not engaged in the process."

In essence, the master plan is a visionary document that will be used to guide the city's growth and development over the next few decades.

"We want this to be an actionable plan, not something that would sit on a shelf," said Eugene Dilbeck.

The plan is being built upon the scenario of the city's population doubling in size, from 3,000 to 6,000, by the year 2030. The plan will address a number of issues, including transportation, commercial and residential development, parks and recreation, downtown revitalization, public facilities, and of course, fiscal impact of this growth.

"Cassville has never had a long-term visionary plan for how the city would develop in an organized fashion," said Eugene Dilbeck. "Without a master plan, it's difficult to pursue an economic development effort.

"If we're going to create jobs and invite industries and businesses in, we have to have something to offer them . . . we need a plan for growth and development," continued Eugene Dilbeck. "They need to see a plan before they invest in the community."

A master plan is also necessary if the city wants to pursue grants or governmental funding for projects in the future.

"When we go talk to legislators about government help or grants, we will not be taken seriously without a plan," said Eugene Dilbeck. "We have to be able to clearly identify a need and show that the city is committed to growth."

The actual cost of the master plan, as presented by BWR, is $110,000 plus 10 percent for actual expenses. The city has included $150,000 in its 2009 budget for a master plan.

Last Friday, the Dilbecks, Holle and Hayslip travelled to Kansas City for an on-site visit to BWR. The Cassville contingent was very impressed with the company and its level of expertise.

"BWR has people on staff to cover every aspect of the master plan," said Eugene Dilbeck. "They also have extensive experience working with small towns, and every city we checked with was highly satisfied with their services."

The Dilbecks said they hope to have a contract readyfor the council to approve in two to four weeks. Once a contract is accepted, BWR will have six months to complete the master plan.

In other business conducted on Monday night, the council:

* Annexed approximately seven acres of property owned by James Bryant into the city limits. The tract of land is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Highways 37, 86 and 76. The Les Jacobs Ford Mercury dealership is located on the property.

* Passed a resolution re-appointing Dr. Tom Harris to the city's Park Board. His term will expire on Aug. 31, 2010.

* Voted to accept the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone property owned by Shawna Sturgell at the corner of 17th and Townsend Streets. Sturgell has purchased the old Church of Christ building and plans to convert it into a beauty salon. The council voted to rezone the property from R-2 (residential) to C-2 (commercial).

* Paid bills totalling $306,178.51. The amount included a $238,814 payment to Commerce Bank, which represents the annual Aquatic Park payment.

* Voted to change the next council meeting to Tuesday, Feb. 17 rather than Monday, Feb. 16 due to the President's Day holiday.

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