When the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department builds its new parking lot east of the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center, it will feature a number of spots for trees. But one existing municipal lot has as many open places for trees, as it has trees.
The lot is located east of the downtown flood levee, between Hill and Center streets. When constructed in 2005, cutout areas were left to accommodate the planting of shade trees. However, seven years later a majority of the spots intended for trees feature only grass. Where trees are growing, they are small and don’t appear particularly healthy.
“There used to be more trees planted there,” said Kristy Trevathan, chairwoman for the Tree Board during last week’s meeting.
It’s no secret why trees have struggled to take root in that riverfront area.
“It’s the site of the old power plant,” said Trevathan.
“There’s still a lot of concrete there,” said Ed Tamerius, a member of the Tree Board. “Before we plant anything else we would need to add soil.”
Hannibal power plant
According to “The Story of Hannibal,” by J. Hurley Hagood and Roberta (Roland) Hagood, the Hannibal’s first power house was erected on east Bird Street in 1886 for $1,874. The Hannibal Board of Public Works Web site reports that Hannibal’s was the first municipal electric light and power plant in Missouri,
Hannibal’s days of generating its own power came to an end in April 1973 when flood water inundated the Municipal Light Plant on the riverfront. As a result of the flood damage to the plant, it was estimated it would take $2 million to make the plant operable again.
On May 31, 1973, the City Council authorized the signing of a 10-year contract with Union Electric to provide electricity to Hannibal. The municipal plant remained closed. In 1974, it was determined that it was cheaper to purchase power than to produce it locally.
While portions of the power plant were removed in the mid-1980s, the job had still not been completed by the early 1990s, reportedly due to the demolition contractor going bankrupt. Steel girders, pipes, concrete foundations and heavy equipment footings still were located at the site.
Bleigh Construction wound up completing the power plant demolition. Chester Bross Construction put in the parking lot.
Work on the parking lot project was delayed about six months as the city sought to receive credit from the Missouri Department of Transportation for the approximately two-acre lot it was donating as its local share of the project.
A majority of the funding for the parking lot was secured through a Transportation Equity Act (TEA-21) grant.
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