In the very near future, the process of developing many acres of flood buyout property will begin along the Bear Creek Basin in Hannibal.
“This is pretty unprecedented,” said Andy Dorian, director of the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department, of the task ahead during a planning meeting Thursday night at city hall. “This is a chance for us to leave our mark.”
This week’s meeting featured not only the Park Board, but a majority of the City Council.
“It’s good to sit down and come to an understanding about where we want to go conceptually,” said City Manager Jeff LaGarce.
Dorian explained that without bringing everyone together to discuss potential uses for the buyout land it’s possible that the Parks Department staff, Park Board and City Council would all come up with their own ideas.
“Then we could spend six months fighting for what we wanted,” he said. “This way we can work for common goals. I know we won’t all agree on everything, but we can try for a consensus.”
Up for discussion Thursday were plats of land the city will soon own on Gordon Street, South Main Street, the east end of Church Street and near the former Display Center.
The preliminary plan in the Gordon Street area is to create a green space area with native grasses, bushes and trees. A gravel walking trail will be included.
In the area that once housed the Display Center a large baseball field will be created.
“This is really, really need No. 1,” said Dorian. “There is not one public, full-sized ball field in Hannibal.”
Beyond the full-sized field, space will be available for at least another medium baseball field or two softball diamonds, depending on how the fields are laid out.
Because permanent fencing won’t be installed, the ball fields will also be available for activities such as soccer and flag football.
South Main plans
According to Dorian, a lot of scenarios are possible for the property on South Main.
“It’s so wide open. So much could be done,” said Barry Louderman, who represents the South Side.
Strong sentiment exists to use at least part of the four-block area as a “sports complex.” Again, removable fencing will be utilized in an area that goes under water when the Mississippi River reaches 20.5 feet.
At the southern most part of the property, where a number of trees are standing, consideration is being given to erecting a shelter and playground area.
“That area already looks like a park,” said Dorian.
Page 2 of 2 - While parking lots will need to be built near the Gordon Street and Display Center sites, it was noted that the width of South Main Street will be conducive to public parking.
As for the east end of Church Street, which includes the site of Bubba’s Restaurant and its parking lot, Dorian expressed reservations about attempting to develop the area, citing concerns the location would become a hard-to-monitor gathering point and an easy target for vandals.
On Thursday night sentiment was expressed which favors the creation of a green area that “complements the riverfront.”
As the meeting wound down Dorian indicated that the suggestions will all be compiled.
“We have a lot to take back to Klingner (& Associates),” he said. “We’re hopeful of getting this under design so we can get started next spring when the weather breaks.”