Purdy making plans for community building

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Public Works Supervisor Lonnie Lowery showed drawings for how to rearrange the Purdy Community Building into a city hall and police station during a special meeting of the Purdy City Council last week. Continuing from left are Aldermen Scott Redshaw and Brian Bowers, and Mayor Bo Prock. Murray Bishoff/Cassville Democrat

City to seek bids for conversion to new city hall, police station

The Purdy City Council moved closer to approving a move of city hall into the Purdy Community Building during a special meeting recently, calling for bids by contractors to get a sense of cost before committing to the plan.

Sentiment for keeping the 1970s-vintage building as a gathering place available for rental appeared waning without the public library as a renter.

“Purdy won’t have a community center any more [if the move goes forward],” said Debbie Redshaw, city clerk. “Citizens have not been taking care of it. When it was built, the senior citizens were very active. They’re not there now. It’s a sign of the times. The other option is keeping it and raising the rent. We can’t pay the utilities with the rent we’re getting. We’re totally going into the hole on it every year.”

Noting the building only has around 12 rentals a year, Mayor Bo Prock reported his disgust in telling a recent renter how disappointed he was in their failure to clean the facility properly. Prock said he had to help clean frosting off the walls. Other options, like Ken and Julie Terry’s The Gathering Place and another proposed facility, planned to be established across town, would have to serve for public use.

Lonnie Lowery, public works supervisor, showed council members the drawing preferred by Redshaw and Police Chief Jackie Lowe for rearranging the building into city offices, a separate space for police, and a third area for council meetings and municipal court.

The biggest obstacle arose from trying to incorporate space for the police car. Lowery proposed adding a garage onto the rear of the building with a driveway circling the facility.

“I don’t want some goofy add-on,” Prock said.

The other major option appeared to be leaving the police car in the old fire station, west of city hall, that the council has eyed for a new public works headquarters.

Improvements needed on the community building would include handicapped accessible doors that opened at the push of a button, rearranging the walls and replacing the flooring. Aldermen agreed to seek bids for remodeling the community building and the fire station before moving further.

Alderman Bob Mosier raised the question in the course of discussion as to how to improve police service in town. He said the two-man force had limitations and the only way to improve would be to add a third officer. It would take five officers to provide full coverage with expected time off, but at least a third would reduce the uncovered gap by 40 hours.

Redshaw observed the police department has a budget of $105,000, more than the city receives in real estate property tax and from the city’s 1 percent sales tax for the general fund. Prock noted that of southwest Missouri towns that have property taxes supporting the city, Purdy is the only one that does not tax personal property.

Mosier saw no other options to upgrading, but conceded he did not know where additional funding would come from. He acknowledged other towns had a sales tax for law enforcement, but wondered if Purdy residents would support one.

Aldermen also held a roundtable discussion on developing a standard operating procedure for use of the storm shelter at the school. Prock said he felt the city would see more severe weather incidents in the future and needed to take an active role in running the shelter. As mayor, he had keys to the building, as did the fire district and police. He felt there needed to be a police officer in the shelter any time it was used, and a medical person for those who might have adverse reactions from stress. In case of a major disaster, he wanted to have the potential to set up a command center from the shelter. The mayor needed to be there as a designated survivor to direct the recovery effort, he added.

Aldermen reviewed issues raised by the school district in opening the shelter to date, such as difficulty identifying who was in charge and parking. Prock said having a uniformed officer present would help. Also, the city should invest in slickers for those directing parking, who became “soaked to the bone” helping in those incidents, he added.

A previously acknowledged issue was how to address people bringing pets. Shelter rules bar animals but school officials concluded they could not turn people away from the shelter in a storm situation, leaving them in a bind. Alderman Scott Redshaw said the city needed a sit-down meeting with school officials to establish rules that everyone would follow.

In action issues, aldermen approved:

• Contracting with Countryside Lawns, run by Brian Ozbun, for mowing services on various city properties at a low bid of $170 per mowing. Aldermen opted also to seek bids for mowing other city properties and highway right-of-ways done by city crews to see if savings would justify freeing city employees for other projects.

• Having a salesman for Crown Power and Equipment in Monett come to the next council meeting to answer questions about a tractor purchase. Crown bid $45,800 for a tractor, not the lowest of four bids but offering the preferred product with a heavier body, while a similar bidder would have required the addition of weights to perform as needed.

Aldermen had discussions during meetings on May 13 and May 22 about providing service to properties outside the city limits.

Leonard and Myra McGee approached the city council about acquiring access to sewer service for their house. The McGees own 90 acres. They purchased the Younger property, which contains approximately 30 acres and a house, which has city water service, within 30 yards of the city limits.

Prock said he would like to see all properties receiving city services inside the city limits. Alderman Brian Bowers pointed out city ordinances do not allow farm animals in the city limits. Following discussion, at the second meeting, council members agreed to work with the McGees if they would take the proper legal steps to separate the house from the farm property and annex it and contiguous land into the city limits. Then the city could provide sewer service without violating its livestock ordinance.

On a similar matter, rural resident Michael Guzman approached the council about securing the city’s help controlling stormwater runoff on Private Road 2087, which has seven houses on it. All houses on the street receive city water service. The road, Guzman said, had turned into a lake from recent rains and was otherwise in poor shape.

Prock said if all the property owners agreed to annex into the city and give enough right-of-way for ditches, then the city would take over the street. Aldermen agreed, noting they would need time to budget rebuilding the road with a base, similar to the work done at the Howell Trailer Park. The residents, who are all on separate septic systems, could also seek sewer service, but would likely have to pay for a lift station, as would the McGees.

Prock encouraged Guzman to bring all his neighbors to a special city council meeting and aldermen could work out details.

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