Council passed the presented Ewert Park Improvement Plans to be included in the nondiscretionary list for the Parks & Stormwater Tax Renewal at Monday night’s work session. These plans are estimated to cost a total of $5.9 million. Additionally, council finished discussing the remaining 20 city action plan items left over from their previous work session held February 22. They passed a vote for the city manager to prepare ballot language of the city action plan items for council review in May. This passed with six in favor, two against, and one absent.
After a presentation with further information about the Ewert Park Improvement plans, council decided to include the plans in the Parks & Stormwater Tax Renewal. The plans describe option one of the few that were previously presented during the Ewert Pool Study, which includes a splash pad and an ice ribbon that may be used in the winter.
After council heard the remaining City Action Plan items, the category of plans included: Improve Community Appearance, Address Declining Neighborhoods, Increase Economic Development, Address Homelessness, Reduce Crime & Increase Safety, Resilient Revenue, and Downtown Joplin Alliance.
“It’s certainly exciting, these are plans that will help the city improve and I think it will address some longstanding issues that citizens have had for a long period,” said Nick Edwards, city manager. “It will finally address ‘why doesn’t the city take care of, why doesn’t the city do something about this.’ It’s the city listening to the community and responding to those needs, and that’s when we’re doing our best work.”
The City Action Plans were created based on citizen feedback and within each action plan are various goals, which council members identified during a workshop session. Edwards presented on the vision implementation of the City Action Plans, saying council should support the new vision because they meet community needs, the goals and plans were driven by citizen engagement, and it enhances the quality of place and service of community.
The total cost for the 46 City Action Plan items is $6,023,250. The funding options for the City Action Plans are through either Use Tax or Property Tax, though Edwards presented that they recommend funding through the Use Tax. He said they hope to have direction from council by May and they seek approval of the action plans council wants to pursue.
“To fund the action plans there’s a lot of expenses tied to those action plans to fund the new enhancements,” Edwards said. “The city will need to approve a Use Tax, and so in May we’ll bring forward a draft ballot language for the council to review. It’ll say, in essence, should the voters approve this tax these are the things that would be pledged to be done with the tax money. If they like that then they can approve it and then it’ll go on the ballot for the November 2021 election.”
In addition come May, council will also look to finalize Memorial Hall plans and rediscuss parking in the plans, as well as finalize Project Launchpad plans in Joplin’s downtown library. Edwards said that the cost of “doing nothing” is great if these projects are not passed.
In regards to the Ewert Park Improvement Plans, Paul Bloomberg, Joplin Parks and Recreation director, presented more in-depth information so council could make a decision about it. The chosen option for Ewert Park includes a splash pad with an ice ribbon—similar to an ice rink—as well as a covered basketball court, an amphitheater, and a kiosk & interpretative signage. The ice rink would also have its own theme of “Original Joplin—Route 66” in order to preserve history. The splash pad is anticipated to be free, while the ice ribbon would be function during the winter months for a $3 admission fee and $4 skate rental fee.
Bloomberg presented that this option provides lower operational and management costs than the other options that were previously discussed. This splash pad, with its additional features, has a total cost of $5,829,375. The costs break down to: ice ribbon, $5,000,000; covered basketball court, $550,000; amphitheater, $250,000; and kiosk & interpretive signage, $29,375. Bloomberg stated that this recommendation aligns with the needs of the community.