Riverfront Dominates Hannibal City Council Session
The riverfront renovation vote continues to make waves in Hannibal City Council chambers. Three speakers addressed the council Tuesday evening, regarding the $5.4 million plan passed by the city council in July. The plan eliminates the marina and fills in the area.
Rob Myers started his presentation by handing out information that questions parts of the city’s figures. Myers claims some of the dredging costs in the marina were actually reimbursed by FEMA and private donations. With that factored in, Myers says the marina turned a $19,000 + profit over the last 15 years. He told the council he hopes to have enough petition signatures to put the marina question to a public vote in April, 2017. Myers concluded by emphasizing the safety aspect of a quiet, safe harbor for launching and trailering boats.
Alan Bowen spoke on behalf of his family of avid boaters. He says he started a facebook page (savehannibalsmarina) the day after the July 5 vote. He says the site now has nearly 4,000 followers. He mentioned the corresponding signs found in yards around town. Bowen says the marina would attract more business if better maintained, ie. dredging, lighting, security and sale of fuel. Bowen says his family and another even made repairs to the dock themselves, without any city funds or labor. Bowen concluded by saying Mark Twain’s book is “Life on the Mississippi”, not Life BY the Mississippi-- without a marina.
Former Hannibal Mayor John Lyng had a different axe to grind. He was not taking sides on the marina. He questioned why a project of that magnitude should not go before voters. Lyng said allowing the citizens to vote would enhance confidence in city government. He also questioned whether financing the project over 5,10, or up to 20 years was in violation of the State Constitution and City Charter. City Attorney James Lemon countered that while Mr. Lyng had valid points, there are various ways such as lease-purchase options that do not require voter approval. At one point, Lemon said he would have to have City Manager Jeff LaGarce outline specifics on financing before Lemon could render a decision as to whether a vote of the people is required.
Fifth Ward Councilman Gordon Ipson told the council he believes the marina should be filled in according to the approved plan. But he also believes some type of marina should be built just south of Bear Creek. He told the audience he would donate $1000 to the cause. He said he would consider more donations if matching donors come forward.