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by Karen E. Culp

Civic Park is a little closer to becoming a reality in Springfield following the July 20 City Council meeting.

Among the council's first reading bills July 20 was a bill that would allow the city, in connection with the Public Building Corporation of Springfield, to issue $8.5 million in revenue bonds to finance the first part of the Civic Park project.

"The bonds will be paid off by the hotel-motel tax revenue. This will be our first bond issue, and we expect to have one, maybe even two more before the project is complete," Finnie said.

Most of the $8.5 million is earmarked for acquisition of the land to be developed into phase I of the park, Finnie said. The $8.5 million also includes the fee for the consultant, LMN Architects, that has been retained to design a master plan for the entire park. The bonds will actually be sold Aug. 3, Finnie said.

Another issue germane to the Civic Park project is that of acquiring property from Sears. Sears owns a warehouse in the Civic Park phase I area and the city needs to acquire it. A council bill for public hearing would condemn a temporary easement on the Sears property so that the city could conduct a Phase I and Phase II environmental inspection.

"This is one of the properties we're negotiating to acquire for the Civic Park project. Sears would like to sell the property as is, but the city needs to perform some due diligence and conduct an environmental inspection," Finnie said.

The city is still in negotiations with Sears, but the temporary easement will be put into place in case an agreement is not reached. The environmental assessment is needed for the city to determine the cost of the cleanup of the area, according to the council bill.

Another component of the Vision 20/20 plan was approved in a resolution. The council voted unanimously to accept the Center City Plan Element. Brian Fogle represented the center city task force that met over a period of two years to develop the plan.

Among the plan's recommendations are those of developing three distinct districts (Commercial Street District, Government Plaza District and Greater Downtown District) in the center city area, orienting the center city around attractive public spaces, making clearly defined entryways into the center city area, and using the Urban Districts Alliance as a vehicle to encourage center city development, Fogle said.

Though the center city area has gone relatively undeveloped for a while, Fogle said he is encouraged that the area is becoming more vital.

"The center city area of a city is really like the front porch of a home. We've neglected our front porch for a while, but we're turning around now," Fogle said.

The council also voted unanimously to adopt the Park, Open Space and Greenways Plan Element of the Vision 20/20 plan.

The council also held a first reading on a bill to amend the budget for the city of Springfield for the Public Works Department in the amount of $67,000. The money is earmarked for a project to expand sewer capacity to Litton Industries.

Litton is getting ready to start an expansion that will create 117 jobs. Litton Industries owns two separate companies that are housed on the same campus in Springfield: Inter-Pak Electronics and Advanced Circuitry. Both companies are involved in the making of circuit boards for the electronics industry.

The expansion will be on the Advanced Circuitry side of the business. The city's commitment represents its match of a state grant for which Litton Industries has applied to build 3,000 feet of sewer line and add lift-station capacity.

The council also passed a bill authorizing the city manager to apply for a law enforcement grant from the United States Department of Justice. The program under which the funds are issued is called the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant, and Springfield is allocated $226,305 in the program. The money would be used to fund mobile communication terminals for the Springfield Police Department.

The council also unanimously approved a bill to create an incentive program for employees of the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport. Under the program, an eligible employee could earn up to an additional $1,500 annually.

Summary of Actions July 20, 1998

First Reading Bills

98-255. Authorizes a local law enforcement block grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund mobile communication terminals for the Springfield Police Department, and amends the budget in the amount of $226,305, which will be matched by $25,145 of the city funds to be absorbed by the $1 million law enforcement sales tax revenue. This was amended due to an emergency bill and [[In-content Ad]]

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