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Phase I of the Jordan Creek project would uncover the stream between Boonville and Main avenues. Construction could begin in late 2021.
Rendering provided by city of Springfield
Phase I of the Jordan Creek project would uncover the stream between Boonville and Main avenues. Construction could begin in late 2021.

City Beat: New building codes pass amid pushback

Phase I of the Jordan Creek daylighting project is presented

Posted online

Springfield City Council on Nov. 18 passed a residential building code overhaul, with two council members in opposition.

The approved measure – by a 7-2 vote – repeals Springfield’s residential building code in its entirety. In its place, the city now will adopt the 2018 International Building Code, as published by International Code Council Inc. Energy conservation is a key factor in the changes, as well as soil and wind capacities.

Councilman Craig Hosmer, who along with Councilman Mike Schilling opposed the ordinance, said the overhaul is a “a step back” and a “reduction in efficiencies.”

“We talk a lot about moving Springfield forward,” Hosmer said. “This doesn’t move Springfield forward at all. It moves us backwards.

“Anybody who looks at this 10 years from now, 15 years from now, is going to say Springfield made the wrong decision.”

Hosmer expressed concern about higher utility bills for homeowners and renters due to the building code change that would reduce insulation requirements for home builders. He pointed to decreased R-values, or the measurement of resistance to the flow of heat through a material, as a move in the wrong direction. The code change reduces required R-values for ceilings, wooden frames, slabs, basement walls and crawl spaces.

Building Development Services Director Harlan Hill said while the current code does have R-value requirements, it does not include a provision for a required inspection of R-values by department staff.

“BDS was not being called out at appropriate phases to verify and confirm that all structures were being constructed per our current code,” Hill told council. “Not all builders were necessarily in compliance with our current code.”

Hill said under the current code, BDS staff members inspect the foundation and framework, and then are called back to inspect the final product.

“The in-between construction phases we don’t see,” he said, “so we cannot validate whether it’s insulated properly, sealed properly, all of those energy aspects.”

The city code council approved establishes an inspection for the sealing and insulation of homes.

Council also made updates to the plumbing, electrical, building, international property maintenance, land development, fuel gas, and swimming pool and spa codes with unanimous votes.

Jordan Creek, Phase I
At a workshop Nov. 19, council members reviewed preliminary concepts for Phase I of a Jordan Creek daylighting project through downtown.

Chris Dunnaway, the city’s principal stormwater engineer, said the goal is to bring the creek to the surface, help reduce flooding, improve water quality and provide outdoor amenities in downtown Springfield.

The first phase is estimated to cost $6.8 million, Dunnaway said, and would be funded through the 2017 Level Property Tax renewal.

“We’re getting ready to kick off design next year, after the bonds are issued,” Dunnaway said. “We’ve been acquiring properties through this corridor for a number of years. We have a few left to acquire, and if we’re able to stay on track, the construction should begin around the end of 2021.”

Phase I would restore Jordan Creek to a small natural stream between Boonville and Main avenues, as well as provide new landscaping and a bridge at Campbell Avenue. Other planned features include sidewalks and a multiuse path, greenspace and lighting.

“This is a widely used concept around the country, creating a recreational opportunity in an urban environment and connecting people to places and parks,” Dunnaway said.

The urban stream has been covered since the late 1920s, when a bond issue was approved to mitigate flooding and the current box culverts were built from Booneville to Main avenues, Dunnaway said. The culverts were extended to Washington Avenue in the mid-1930s.

“What they did was bury the creek underground to try to solve the problem,” Dunnaway said.

Recently, a water quality and quantity study conducted by the Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute at Missouri State University found the creek has acceptable nutrient levels and identified potential groundwater sources.

Officials say the idea to daylight Jordan Creek originated from discussions for the Vision 20/20 Plan in the 1990s.

In 2017, the city asked stakeholders to identify issues in the area like land use and infrastructure. From meetings with officials with Missouri State University, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, engineers and developers, three priorities arose: connect the greenways and add greenspace to reduce surface parking; address the floodplain; and enhance economic development.

Dunnaway said additional public input will be collected as part of the design process.

Other notes
Council approved the Ozark Transportation Organization to apply for $217,600 in federal grants administered by Missouri Department of Transportation for construction of the Fassnight Creek Greenway Trail from Clay Avenue to Brookside Drive.

“This is really a continuation of the grant we applied for and subsequently were awarded last year to construct the trail from Jefferson over to Clay,” said Eric Claussen, Springfield traffic engineer.

The grant would be used to continue the project into Phelps Grove Park and incorporate into the master plan for the Springfield Art Museum, Claussen said.

Also, council voted 7-2 to table the ordinance authorizing Springfield to join the Show Me Property Assessment Clean Energy District until Dec. 16. Mayor Ken McClure, who made the tabling motion, said he needs clarification on the ability of the city to withdraw from the program and how the assessments are collected.

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