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Riverfront plan floats past flood concerns

The City Council is still on pace to potentially endorse the Riverfront Master Plan, created by a Kansas City-based design firm, in May.

Posted: Apr 5, 2019 10:01 PM
Updated: Apr 6, 2019 11:46 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Recent flooding hasn't drowned the City of St. Joseph's momentum to develop the Riverfront. The City Council is still on pace to potentially endorse the Riverfront Master Plan, created by a Kansas City-based design firm, in May.

Historic flooding in northwest Missouri damaged property along the Missouri River. St. Joseph faired better than towns upstream but some low lying parts of the city were damaged by the floods. 

The Tourism Commission met Thursday to endorse the Master Riverfront Plan but before the vote, one member raised concerns about how recent flooding affected the plans.

Marci Bennett is the Director of the Buchanan County Convention Center and Visitor's Bureau. She has been attending all of the city meetings and flooding has not drowned her excitement for the plan.

"After all the Riverfront plans we’ve had, this one actually takes it down into bite-size pieces," Bennett said. "We have to have a plan and whether this plan is totally embraced is something else but I think it gives us a good starting point."

Dick DeShon is a member of the Tourism Commission and voted to endorse the plan.

“Everybody knows that we had a flood, "DeShon said. "We may have a flood again but there’s no way to develop the Riverfront without being on the River."

He said the Missouri River, the railroads, and the I-229 double-decker bridge all present cosmetic and practical problems in development. 

“It’s like living with the railroads," DeShon said. "We are not going to move the railroads and I doubt if we really move 229."

But, he also said, this plan presented creative ways of incorporating these areas and how the city could maximize funding for it.

"The city won’t have enough money to do everything that we need to do," DeShon said. "When we started we didn’t even have a port authority but that’s something we’ve been able to build. We’ve got a $6 million investment. That’s public and private money down there. That’s how we are going to have to do every project on the river.”

Bennett said she was happy to see the group get behind the plan. 

"Look, I don't like every single detail of the plan but it's a good plan and changes can be made down the road," Bennett said. "I think the sewer lines make sense. I think the enhancements made to the roads makes sense. Those aren't going to be influenced by any flooding at all and an RV Park? Once you have the infrastructure, it's slabs of (concrete). It can be cleaned up if, in fact, water comes in."

The City's Planning Commission will review the Riverfront plan next and decide whether to endorse it. If it gets the Planning Commission's support, then the plan will be sent to the City Council in May.

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A strong cold front has made its way into northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas bringing much cooler air and a lot of clouds across the area. Friday night and Saturday the cold air will continue to be in place with daytime highs only reaching into the 40's. As the weekend continues we will see increasing chances for rain and maybe some snow. A cold start to the beginning of next week with highs only in the 30's and 40's.
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