The Board of Aldermen met for a workshop session on February 2nd, with facility needs on the agenda once again. The same refrains were heard from past meetings, with all members agreeing that facility needs for the police, city hall, and community center need to be addressed, but with no consensus on how to proceed after the sound defeat of the June 2020 bond issue.
ETC Institute presented on the recent survey they conducted of registered voters, which attempted to understand why voters did not approve both issues related to the Sni-A-Bar community complex in June 2020. 448 survey respondents provided input, which echoed feedback heard in previous discussions regarding the failed measure. 76% of survey respondents indicated they voted in the June election.
Those who indicated they voted against the measure most often cited the cost of the project as the deterrent. Those voting for the measure indicated the project fit within their vision of the needs of the community.
Pastor Wayne Geiger with the First Baptist Grain Valley Church spoke after the presentation by ETC regarding the church’s continued interest in the former Nichols building, which had been purchased by the City with the intention of using the space for youth and senior activities. The City has not put the space to use, and has no immediate plans or projects at the site.
Geiger reminded the board the church had placed a bid on the building prior to the City placing a bid and ultimately purchasing the building for future use.
“We decided to back out. We weren’t going to get into a bidding war with the City,” Geiger explained.
Geiger shared the church is growing, despite COVID-19, and is landlocked.
“We are committed to being here. We like being downtown. We would like to see the building become a youth center. That was our vision three years ago, and from what I understand was the vision of the City three years ago,” Geiger said.
“Personally, from my perspective, I see it as a win-win for us and for the City of Grain Valley.”
Geiger stated the Grain Valley Assistance Council, currently housed in a part of the Nichols building, is welcome to stay in the building.
The Nichols building is just one of the existing buildings and parcels of land owned by the City discussed during the workshop, with the stated goal of determining how to move forward on addressing facility needs following the failed bond vote.
City Administrator Ken Murphy noted the board has been discussing next steps since an initial workshop in August.
“There are facility needs that have to be addressed. We just need to figure out the best way to address those needs,” Murphy said.
“The reality is, the needs aren’t going away. So we need to start down that path of figuring out what that is.”
The board once again reviewed options to build on the former Sni-A-Bar Farms site, the existing City Hall and community center buildings and surrounding land, and available sites near Butterfly Trail and James Rollo road.
Johnston continued to press for utilizing existing city hall and community center buildings, and perhaps build a separate building for a new police station in the same area.
In discussing community center needs, the board generally agreed that indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities for any proposed center are too cost prohibitive. The board also discussed the feasibility of a fitness center as a viable component of a community center facility. Johnston reiterated his concerns regarding the cost of community center facilities versus the potential use of all citizens.
“I don’t think it’s fair to ask the majority of the city to pay for meeting rooms that they aren’t going to use for other people to use for their party,” Johnston said.
Aldermen Stratton once again stated she felt the land currently occupied by city hall and the community center would be better suited for business development, given its proximity to 1-70.
After extensive discussion, the board agreed the needs of the police department should be addressed first, asking City staff to compile options regarding location and facility needs of a building for the police department.
The Board meets for its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, February 8th at 7:00pm.