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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
None of the three items on the agenda of last Thursday night’s work session resulted in definite decisions.
The Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen will revisit each issue in coming meetings.
In addition to the topic of having a size/weight limit for garbage trucks and/or contracting with a single trash hauler (See separate story.), The city also pushed back decisions on the other two items.
On the issue of a property owner hoping to buy a strip of land the city had in mind for future ingress/egress for the planed subdivision in the Progress Parkway area, City Attorney Mark Bishop said he was not comfortable discussing possible real estate transactions in open session.
Meanwhile, on the 2024 paving program, where the needs exceed the allotted funds, the board agreed to take another look at things at the Oct. 12 meeting.
A property owner whose land is more or less “landlocked,” would like to buy a 60-foot section of land the city owns, to allow future access to the property, which he anticipates his sons using in the future.
This is in the area of the city’s proposed subdivision.
City Administrator Happy Welch gave the board some background on the issue.
“While he does have an easement on his own family member’s property, getting any heavy equipment across their private maintained yard is problematic for him,” Welch said. “His question was what future use the city would have. The answer that he was given from my understanding was that they may annex the property behind at some point in time if it ever, if they wanted to put a subdivision back there.
“His argument is, ‘I own that property anyway, so if they’re annexing that, then they just have to annex this back.’ My understanding is it’s deeded in a trust for his sons. He has some hope that they will build a property, build a house there when they come of age, and he wanted some access to that property. I see his point in that this isn’t a big enough plot for us to do anything or build anything that I can see, unless I’m just forgetting about something, and I don’t understand the argument for the future expansion to restrict him from having access now if it’s something that we would just have to take from him later anyway.”
Welch said the individual would be willing to agree to sell the property back to the city at the same price, should the city later need it.
“I knew that there was some concern that if later we needed to go back and reacquire the property, was he going to jack the price up and try to make money on us,” Welch said. “He indicated to me that he would be willing to enter into some type of an agreement that should that day ever come, he would sell it back at what he bought it for. But again, that’s something that would come contractually long after this. I don’t think that he’s opposed to that proposition if that’s what we wanted to do.”
Discussions also took place on how neighboring landowners might be affected and about possible annexation.
Bishop expressed some concerns.
“I have a couple issues,” he said. “One is I don’t like having public discussions about sales of real estate, period. That should be a closed session. Secondly, there has to be a process by which we sell city assets.”
That problem, he said, would be the city entering into a private contract with this individual, rather than putting the parcels in question up for bidding.
“You can certainly sell the property. My only objection is that you can’t just sell it to some individual and not give everybody a fair shot at it,” Bishop said.
A potential land swap might also be an option.
The city had budgeted $200,000 for street paving in 2024. The list of streets the city would like to pave or rebuild, however, comes to an estimated cost of more than $1.3 million combined – not including doing Ninth Street from Market to Ridgeway, on which a figure is not yet available.
Ward 4 Alderman Mike Raney suggested increasing the strength of the streets being redone.
“We’re going down the list, ‘Needs rock base,’ ‘Needs rock base,’” he said. “What that’s telling me is that we built streets that were improper before and we need to do that the right way.”
Raney suggested that, “You can’t do the entire list, but you can do two or three of them the correct way.”
Ward 3 Alderman Joe Steiger argued that, “This list just gets longer as we only do two or three,” and suggested that a bond issue may be the only answer.
“I couldn’t agree with you more,” Raney said.
“It’s just laughable to say we only have $200,000 to do for streets,” Steiger said. “We’re going to try to build a new subdivision and put in brand new streets and we’ve got the rest of the residents that are suffering under pea gravel. And so, to be fair to them, the ones that are paying the taxes now, we need to look at something a bit more comprehensive and a little bit more aggressive than $200,000. And it’s going to have to probably be a bond issue where we’re going to have to borrow some money and do, and if we did some of these, we’d probably get some discounts if we did this whole list together in one or two years. There might be some savings there if we went out and bid several of these projects together. But we can’t keep kicking the can down the road and making fun of our streets and us not doing anything about it. We’re going to have to take a bond issue out and fix the streets.”
In the end, the board agreed to revisit the topic at the March 12 meeting.