Master plan progresses

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In the coming week, Cassville city residents can expect to receive a survey in their mailbox.

The five-page questionnaire is part of the city's master plan development process, and all city residents are urged to fill out the survey and return it in the postage-paid envelope that will be included with the survey.

Mayor Tracy Holle and Economic Development Directors Eugene and Lynette Dilbeck conducted a test of the survey and found that it took individuals anywhere from eight to 20 minutes to complete the survey.

They reported at a Monday night meeting of the Project Advisory Committee (PAC), which was formed to help the city develop its master plan, that all those taking the survey found it easy to understand.

"No one complained about the complexity of the survey," said Eugene Dilbeck. "They said it was understandable and easy to do. I think we have a questionnaire that will work."

All city residents will receive a survey in the mail, and surveys will also be mailed to local business owners. Preliminary results of the survey will be presented to PAC members at the group's July meeting.

Scott Michie, BWR senior vice president and team leader for the Cassville Master Plan project, said he hoped to find additional ways to reach out to citizens in the community to get them involved in the planning process.

Currently, BWR is developing a project website that will soon be available to the public. Residents will be able to access the site and monitor how the plan is evolving. Public meetings will also be held in August and September before the final draft of the master plan is completed.

During Monday's meeting, PAC members reviewed the results of last month's awareness walk through portions of the Cassville downtown area.

During the walk, participants generally agreed that the Barry County Courthouse and historic nature of the downtown area are positive attributes for Cassville and new development and renovation should build upon that historic presence.

Participants also noted that facades, landscaping and signage varied widely among the downtown businesses. Creating incentives for owners to make building improvements was another idea voiced by those taking the awareness walk.

Pedestrian safety was also an issue noted during the walk. Group members suggested that the city make an investment in crosswalks, sidewalks, ramps and curbs that were ADA compliant.

Jack Messer, an engineer for BWR, was present at Monday's meeting to discuss some initial infrastructure needs he has identified as he begins work on an infrastructure plan for the city.

Traffic was one of the areas he was assessing. Messer said 14,645 cars travel down Main Street on an average day.

"Overall we see a traffic volume and traffic system that accommodates what you have," said Messer. "The question now is what do we do when the city grows."

Messer said the city would need to develop alternate routes that could divert traffic away from the central arteries that currently handle the majority of local traffic.

In addition, Messer noted that the city had a major infiltration and inflow problem that was adding approximately a half million gallons of water to the wastewater system per day.

"The answer may be some pretty aggressive stormwater attacks," said Messer.

Messer reported that the city's wastewater plant was currently operating at capacity day after day.

"We need to get at that," said Messer. "That's not a good situation to be in."

One way to offset the cost of treatment plant upgrades would be to discover why the city is experiencing a 29 percent unaccounted water loss, Messer said.

"That equates to a third loss in water revenue," said Messer. "We need to find that loss and make repairs. These are all issues that will have to be dealt with."

At the end of the meeting, the PAC members participated in a visual preference survey that will be used to help the BWR team determine design preferences for streetscape, infrastructure and related improvements.

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