Carthage council talks natural disaster planning, parks study, and downtown preservation in Zoom meeting

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Tabled Parks Contract

One of the first items on the agenda was a plan for the City to move forward in hiring a parks consultant. The contract is with Dick Horton Consulting based out of Pittsburg, Kan. Tuesday night, the city discussed moving forward with the hiring contract to get the ball rolling on a master plan to upgrade Carthage Parks and Recreation Department.

To create a master plan, the consultant must meet with the public regularly — this includes special committee meetings, focus groups, and surveying citizens to hear their thoughts and ideas. From there, the consultant will create a final draft that best fits the City of Carthage’s financial, safety, and recreational needs based on the data they collect.

Council members had a lot to say about the plan. With the situation COVID-19 has put the city in, leaders were concerned that it may be too soon to move forward with hiring a consultant before the pandemic is under control. Some believed that delaying the process may even encourage more public input.

Councilman Mike Daugherty chimed in on the discussion, stating the city should be careful not to make any hasty decisions:

“Any money we are spending right now in uncertain times, I don’t think we should be spending,” Daugherty explained. “Maybe we shouldn’t vote on it until we get another two months down the road to just see the financial impact this is actually having on our budget and our city.”

Others thought that the city should move forward with the hiring process. There’s a long road of planning ahead and the idea was that the consultants could at least get started on ironing out the early stages with a green light from the the city.

Councilman David Armstrong wondered if something couldn’t be done in the meantime, stating:

“I can’t help but wonder if everything is up in the air — that we can’t do part of this now while we have people home and more accessible to call.”

The council agreed that taking some time to see what the future holds was the best decision in moving forward. The decision was tabled and will be brought up again at the June 23 meeting.

Downtown Revitalization

The City of Carthage also moved forward with the decision to endorse Vision Carthage’s plan to restore the city’s downtown district.

Through the Community Empowerment Grant sponsored by Missouri Main Street Connection, the city could receive a two-year special training plan with guidance from professionals with the organization to enhance the downtown district’s historic and economic value.

Only seven grants will be awarded in the state of Missouri, but the council’s approval helps seal the deal on an application for the grant, which requires a joint effort between the city and community members.

Mayor’s official endorsement:

Natural Disaster Mitigation

Finally, city leaders renewed a natural disaster mitigation plan through the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council. According to staff, the city has adopted this plan before, including in 2012 and 2016.

By participating in the program, the City of Carthage will be eligible for various grants ‘for the purpose of building a safer community by reducing natural hazard vulnerability.’ Funding can especially help with severe weather safety, by assisting cities with new storm shelters and tornado sirens.

The mitigation plan an effort to preserve life across Jasper and Newton Counties. View the details of the plan by clicking here.

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