The anticipated stand-in at Thursday night’s Osage Beach Board of Aldermen didn’t materialize, but the message from West End business and property owners was unified — slow down, you’re moving too fast.
Matt Duenke, local developer and property owner west of the Grand Glaize Bridge, read a letter signed by several business and community letters asking that the city suspend talks with MoDOT regarding revamping the Key Largo area until a detailed, independent economic impact study could be completed.
Several of those impacted by the West End economic woes were at the meeting, and had considered standing in front of the aldermen as their names were read as supporters of the request to slow things down. That didn’t happen. Instead, they sat attentive while Duenke told the board there were concerns among the business and property owners that the city and MoDOT may not be making the right decisions.
But not everyone on the board was silent on the request. Alderman Kevin Rucker, who at a previous meeting made the motion to move forward with the latest MoDOT proposal, took exception with the new approach.
He said it was difficult for him when first the West End group’s message was “hurry up, hurry up” and now it’s “stop, stop, stop.”
“We’re trying to do the best job we can with the resources we have available,” he commented toward the end of the meeting. “And I feel MoDOT’s resources may not be available in the future.”
He said the “mixed feelings and vibes” from the West End group created a difficult situation for him and other board members.
“We need to move forward,” he said.
Duenke turned over documents signed by at least 34 West End supporters to the city at the conclusion of his presentation. He said he was there on behalf of local Realtor Mark Beeler who was unable to attend the meeting.
Beeler has taken an active role in support of making changes to the traffic flow on Osage Beach Parkway and the Expressway. Several weeks ago, he provided the city with information reflecting how real estate values have declined considerably since the Expressway was opened last year.
In the letter to the board, the West End business and property owners said “Without question, the new road (Expressway) has had a negative economic impact on the property owners west of the Grand Glaize Bridge,” the letter said. “What we do not know is how badly the negative impact will affect city tax revenues, the property values along Osage Beach Parkway and what types of businesses will be attracted to the west end of Osage Beach Parkway if the current trends continue. At this point a lot of assumptions are being made without seeking the advice and opinion of a consulting firm familiar with similar situations.”
Page 2 of 2 - The city, the West End business interests and MoDOT have bantered around several possible solutions to the decline in traffic on the west end of Osage Beach Parkway that many say has resulted in a severe economic downturn. An outer road, a slip ramp, stoplights, a major interchange and most recently a three-way slip ramp for Key Largo including a roundabout have been discussed.
“Before we embark on a route of No Return, let’s take the time to do our due diligence by retaining a consulting firm with experience that can offer sound advice and recommendations for proven solutions. We would propose a public/private partnership to pay for an economic impact study to be done before any further actions are taken by the city or MODOT to make changes to the Key Largo interchange and the construction of the outer road,” the letter said.