A new Visitors Center in a new location will one day greet tourists coming to town.That's the hope of Executive Director Gail Bryant of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau. Bryant presented the proposed design to the city council Tuesday evening.  The new facility will be located near the aquatics center on Pleasant Street.

Bryant says a feasibility study began a year ago.  The front of the 2-level building will face the U.S. 36 exit onto Mark Twain Avenue.  The upper level will house the visitor’s welcome center. It will also have restrooms and a conference room.  Access to the upper level will be gained from the current commuter lot.

The lower level will contain offices.  An entrance way to the lower level will be accessed from the Grand Avenue side.  Councilman Mike Dobson questioned the absence of an elevator.  Bryant said an elevator adds considerable expense and ADA compliant ramps will be utilized to access each level.

Mayor Hark said the project is a good fit for the location, as it will be one of the first sights visitors see as they enter Hannibal from U.S. 36.  Bryant says the next step is to begin soliciting bids.  Some estimates have put the cost of the project around $600,000.

The council gave final approval to the $5 million riverfront renovation project. Parks and Rec Director Andy Dorian says mooring cells were slightly modified after meeting with Captain Steve Terry of the Mark Twain Riverboat Company and Canton Marine and Towing.  Dorian also says the plan has been approved by the Park Board, Tourism, and Hannibal BPW.

Regarding Corps of Engineers approval, Mark Bross of Klingner and Associates told the council only two comments have been received by the Corps. The Public Notice period ends April 25.  The comment requiring action involves the relocation of the mussel population from the riverfront.  Bross says there is a plan to move the mussels to Bear Creek once the permit from the Corps is received. The riverfront project will go up for bid once the permit is in hand.

Heath Hall, interim General Manager of the Hannibal Board of Public Works, shared the latest regarding the chloramine replacement project. Hall says the conversion to Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) is estimated to cost around $14.5 Million in capital investment.   Hall says GAC will not only remove organic contaminants from the water,  but also may help stay ahead of future EPA rules regulating “emerging contaminants” (future regulations).

The BPW Board explored two possible funding sources: leasing, and bond financing.  The board chose bond financing, as Interest rates are still low.  An Ordinance is expected to come to council in May regarding the bond issue, which voters would have to approve on the August ballot.  Hall says time is of the essence, as funds are needed ASAP to fund the engineering costs.  Also interest rates for bonds are expected to go higher later this year. Bond Counsel recommends up to a $17.5 million bond issue to cover the cost of project plus a contingency reserve if needed.

What happens if the bond issue doesn’t pass? Hall says the decision to remove ammonia (chloramines) has already been decided by ordinance.  The next step would be to explore alternatives-- most likely leasing.

How much will rates increase?  Hall hopes to have more information in May. He says  in the next 5 years, BPW will likely need a 62 percent increase in revenue to cover project costs, plus loss of Ralls County water customers after their new plant is on line next year.  The board will explore options as to how the rate adjustments will be handled. Hall says for example, every 6 months,rates could go up 6 percent.  He says the current residential bill is around $40 a month, about average compared to other Missouri municipalities.  With a 62 percent raise, rates would be in the upper tier.  More will be known about rate increases once the project is bid out.

The tenative schedule calls for submitting the design to DNR for approval in Sept.  Award the construction bid in early 2019. Construction should take about one year.  The deadline to remove ammonia and have the new system operating is March 31, 2020.

In other business:

  • Hannibal Clinic is approved to continue random drug and alcohol testing for city employees. The contract will be for one year with the option to extend to a total of three years.  City Clerk Angel Zerbonia says two bids were received.  Phamatech Inc. bids came in considerably higher.  Zerbonia says Hannibal Clinic has been providing these services for the past three years and has been adequately meeting the city’s needs.
  • Simply Cut Lawns was the sole bidder for mowing the Old Baptist Cemetery.  The bid of $3600 was the same as last year.  The council voted to accept the bid.
  • Mike McHargue of the Street Department received approval to purchase Street Department supplies in the upcoming fiscal year.  Some items have increased in price over 2017-18, which will have some impact on the budget.  Two suppliers are approved for supplying concrete and asphalt needs, in order to allow more flexibility.
  • Additional items will be added to the city auction on Saturday, April 28 at the Hannibal Street Department.  The additional items are: Walk-Behind Street Saw, Portable Power Washer, 2008 Ford F-350 with bad engine, and a 1999 Ford ¾ ton pickup once used at the airport.