Properties, issues assessed in city of Purdy
Aldermen seek consolidation, potential sale of city hall
The Purdy City Council recently reviewed its buildings and resources while contemplating future opinions.
Mayor Po Prock said, in his opinion, the city owns more property than it can manage with six employees. Lonnie Lowery, public works supervisor, said his staff spends 24-30 hours a week mowing and weeding during the growing season.
Prock proposed moving the city office to the community center in the absence of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library. He said measurements show space in the community center would provide more room than the current city office. Prock suggested moving the police and public works department across the street into the former fire department. The fire station would also provide garage room for the city’s police car, now left to sit outdoors. Those moves would free to city to sell the current city hall and adjacent metal maintenance building.
Police Chief Jackie Lowe expressed reservations about safe preservation of records and evidence. Specifically, he worried leaving a cinder block building for a wood framed structure with a metal covering would be less protected from tornadic storms. Prock discounted the risk, seeing better possibilities with construction onto the fire station building.
However, Prock warned the fire station, which has a pitched room facing east, could become unsightly if not approached carefully. Additions on the north and side ends would require new roofing, not an extension of the existing roof. That, Prock warned, could look like “someone’s weekend honey-do project.”
One building change on which everyone agreed involved raising the header for the center garage door. Several doors, including the public works building next to city hall, had dents in the headers from attempts to drive the backhoe into the garage when the operator forgot to lower the stem and the bucket on the backhoe. A raised header would offer room to move the backhoe with the stem raised, avoiding further damage.
After the meeting, aldermen and staff walked through the city buildings to see what options were available. Lowery said the back of the community building contained a large quantity of “junk,” including old teepee shaped voting booths and supplies from the turkey shoots held by the now-defunct Purdy Lions Club. The west portion of the hall, available for rent, could provide space monthly for city council meetings and court sessions. With the police office in a different location, witnesses and the accused could remain better separated.
As for other properties, Prock said he wanted to explore any restrictions on selling the 80-acre east lagoon acreage, filling in and selling the west lagoon, and doing the same for the former city fish pond on Seventh Street if it couldn’t be repaired and reopened. He wanted to get bids for either option. Lowery planned to contact the National Guard to see if the project could serve as a training exercise for using heavy equipment.
Other properties that can’t be sold requiring mowing include three well houses and the city park. Prock planned discussions to further explore a joint project with the school district that would incorporate the outdoor classroom with the park to setting up a Frisbee golf course. He also talked about moving the dog pound from the east lagoon property into town to a place with access to running water, eliminating the need to transport water thus reducing maintenance.
Property regulations led to another discussion raised by Ken Madison, who asked about installing a tiny house in his mobile home park. Madison said trailers can now cost up to $70,000, more than he could afford. A tiny house, for example, could cost around $10,000 and fit the requirements for a structure in the trailer park.
“I really think the new tiny house movement is cool,” Prock said. “They’ve brought a new level of culture to a community. This is no different than the grass fight [over pushing for compliance with the property maintenance code]. It can’t be OK on one side of town and not on another. If you want to put in water and sewer infrastructure, I have no problem with it.”
Because the city lacks zoning, Prock conceded the city could not stop the placement of tiny houses anywhere, even in someone’s back yard. The current ordinance on mobile homes used a definition that would apply to both structures. Prock saw at least the need to retitle the mobile home law.
City Clerk Debbie Redshaw noted that the mobile home ordinance has age restrictions on acceptable structures, and suggested tiny houses should do the same. Lowe suggested looking at a Seligman ordinance on tiny houses that could provide directions for tailoring the city’s future guidelines.
The completion of the annexation of Business Highway 37 south to Highway 37 raised the question of when the city would move its signs identifying the approved addition and what would be done to upgrade the road. Aldermen expressed exasperation with Purdy Road District leaders who appeared to have given the road little maintenance over the past 15 years, according to one account.
Prock said he would wait for a letter from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) saying it was time to move the signs. Redshaw suggested once MoDOT moved its own signs, the city could likely make its own move. Prock indicated the road needed more than more pothole patching, but added, “We will do what we have to do to fix it up.”
Russ Nichols, the city’s building inspector, provided an update on the city’s long-running property maintenance issues with 301 Highway C. He reported the family now has full ownership of the house, but the state has 12 liens against it. The family secured a $117,000 judgment against the mortgage company for not showing up in court, but an appeal was likely.
Prock said the city still had the option to tear the property down as a dilapidated structure. “It’s just a question of if we want to spend $10,000 of taxpayer money on it,” he added.
Nichols agreed the city would not back down after pushing the issue for months. He planned to review the situation further with City Attorney Darlene Parrigon and bring a plan on next steps back to the council.
In other business, aldermen discussed the next steps for the city’s sewer project. Prock reported the city had secured a locator for sewer lines for $7,298.50, and the bill had been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program for payment. He anticipated securing a jetter as well from grant funds.
Prock added Ace Pipe Cleaning had returned to town to update camera work. Previous camera work proved useless after no follow-up work corrected any of the problems found. Prock said this time grant money would pay for repairs and sewer lining.
Lowery reported tackling several major sewer line breaks in the past month. He cited one on Fifth Street, where a line had blown out; on Caldonia, north of Crittendon, where the pipe at the end of the line had blown out; and one at Sixth and Washington at a depth of 15 feet, out of reach of the city’s 12-foot backhoe. Lowery sought further confirmation if grant money would cover sewer repairs.
Illustrating the extent of the city’s sewer problem, Lowery reported that during a recent period of heavy rain, the city’s system of pumping effluent to Monett failed. The gravity-flow sewer pipeline to Monett filled due to stormwater getting into the sanitary sewer system. The pump station continued to push effluent into the pipeline but could not speed the process. Consequently, one of the manholes blew a geyser two and a half feet into the air. Lowery planned to spread lime around the overflow.
“That’s just something we’ll have to deal with till we get the infiltration stopped,” Lowery said.