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APPROVED CAMPUS: Summit Prep Head of School Rob Gronniger stands in front of the planned campus.
SBJ photo by WES HAMILTON
APPROVED CAMPUS: Summit Prep Head of School Rob Gronniger stands in front of the planned campus.

City Beat: Rezoning triggers Summit Preparatory acquisition

The former Mercy fitness center on Walnut Lawn would allow for growth past 160 students next year

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Last edited 2:22 p.m., Sept. 28, 2017

Springfield City Council on Sept. 18 unanimously approved The Summit Preparatory School’s rezoning request, opening the door for its new campus.

Council voted 8-0, with Councilman Tom Prater absent, to rezone the former Mercy fitness center at 202 E. Walnut Lawn St. to an office district from a highway commercial district. The new zoning permits use by a school.

Summit Prep expects to finalize the purchase of the six-acre property, which was contingent on the rezoning, before Oct. 1, said Amy Maas, the school’s communications officer. Coldwell Banker real estate agent Mark Patrick is representing the school in the deal, she said.

The school’s current campus, at 2155 W. Chesterfield Blvd., had been owned by Bob Noble before transferring to OakStar Bank in May. Summit Prep officials were unaware of OakStar’s plans, and bank President Randy Johnson declined to comment on OakStar’s ownership of the building.c

For Summit Prep, the Chesterfield Village building has limited room for growth and almost no green space for its nearly 160 students, said school board President Alison Bauer. Those concerns are addressed at the Walnut Lawn property.

“There’s a track in the back at our new space that our track and cross country teams will utilize,” Maas said, noting other uses for a playground, basketball courts and garden.

Maas said the purchase and renovations are budgeted to cost up to $5 million. She said Summit Prep would finish the current school year in Chesterfield Village.

New projects
Council also unanimously approved a contract with Jefferson City-based Gredell Engineering Resources Inc. for the design and permitting of additional waste disposal space and improved environmental management systems at the city sanitary landfill. The project is budgeted at $1.35 million.

The $940,000 first phase is expected to wrap within 18-36 months, according to council documents. The remaining funds requested will be used as contingency for additional phases of the work to cover updates to the groundwater monitoring system, and leachate and stormwater management.

Council members also unanimously approved a $275,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department over the next two years. First presented at the Sept. 5 meeting, Jon Mooney, the department’s administrator for chronic disease prevention, detailed the objectives.

“The first goal is to assist the department to further improve the areas of workforce development and data information systems as we carry out the role of the community health strategist,” Mooney said.

Funding also would support a community health equity index.

“It’s a tool designed to inform decision-making by examining the health impacts that result from the relationships between neighborhood conditions, health behaviors and health outcomes,” Mooney said. “It’s a truly innovative project that we have not seen anywhere else in the country.”   

Pit bull laws
The meeting audience overflowed into a conference room and out the hall of the first floor of Springfield’s historic City Hall. Over 50 people signed up to address council members about proposed changes to the pit bull dog provisions under Chapter 18 of the city code. Among them were Kristin and Travis Atwell, whose children were attacked by pit bulls in July, and Carrie Galvan, certified dog trainer and owner of Precious Canines. Most spoke in favor of keeping regulations the same.

Currently, pit bull owners must pay an annual registration fee of $50, have their pit bull spayed or neutered and provide documentary proof of those conditions to the city animal shelter. In addition, pit bulls must be implanted with a microchip. If changes are approved at the Oct. 2 meeting, pit bull dogs would be prohibited within city limits. Current owners would be able to keep their dogs if they meet documentary requirements.

Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky said it seemed the responsible dog owners were the ones being punished, while Councilman Craig Hosmer noted violations under the current law. He questioned how the city could enforce even more without the money to hire additional animal control officers.

“A few years ago, we went and looked at St. Joseph, which has a pit bull ban there, and for the city size of St. Joe, they’ve got 50 percent more officers,” said Kevin Gipson, director of the Health Department, who presented the proposal to council. “I can tell you that we’re very understaffed.”

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