At least a portion of the city of Hannibal’s downtown sidewalk project will be going back to the drawing board. That conclusion came out of Monday night’s public information meeting at City Hall.
While it was confirmed by Ron Effland of MoDOT that the design in hand is compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, there was no denying that a majority of those in attendance were not happy with the project’s direction, based on the two-layer sidewalk which recently appeared on the west side in the 300 block of North Main Street.
“Because of the numerous complaints we received we elected to stop the project,” said Councilman Mike Dobson. “Our goal tonight is to reach a consensus that everyone can be happy with.”
It’s hard to say if a unanimous consensus was reached as over a half dozen people departed before the hour-plus meeting wound down.
A majority of those remaining did approve by a show of hands the concept of 11- or 10-foot sidewalk designs with step downs of 1 or 2 feet on the west side of the street. However, many stressed they want to see how any revisions would be implemented in front of their store front.
A handful of those in attendance complained because they did not see the final version of the current plans earlier this year before they were sent off to the Missouri Department of Transportation for approval.
City Manager Jeff LaGarce indicated a follow-up public meeting will be scheduled at which the revised plans will be present.
Julie Rolsen, vice president of the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council, explained that downtown merchants most want a design that will be safe. She added that rumors of a railing that would extend the length of the block would not be acceptable. Martin Meyer of Architechnics, which did the design work on the project, said a block-long railing was never under consideration.
Meyer pointed out that revisions to the plans could also impact other features of the project, such as the location of utility bases, light standards and tree boxes.
“I’ll just have to go back and see what the best possible solutions are,” said Meyer.
As strongly as many of the property owners want to see the project redesigned, concern was expressed over what the revisions might mean to the duration of the project, which city officials have indicated they would like to see wrapped up by National Tom Sawyer Days in early July, if not sooner. LaGarce expressed optimism that work could resume by the first of March.
If the weather breaks before the redesigned plans are completed for the west side of North Main, Bleigh Construction workers will resume on the east side of the street.
Page 2 of 2 - LaGarce acknowledged that the redesign work will boost the cost of the project for the city. While unsure Monday night from where the additional funds would come, he promised he’d find the money because “this project is important.”