It was pretty much the same old song at the Osage Beach Board of Aldermen meeting Thursday night as the Key Largo intersection and the economic plight of West End businesses were rehashed without any resolution.
A half-dozen people with economic interests along Osage Beach Parkway west of the Grand Glaize Bridge shared their concerns with the board first, and then aldermen took their turn to re-visit the same issues that have dogged the city for several months.
In the end, a motion to move forward with construction of a westbound outer road from the end of the Parkway to Y Road failed to receive a required second and died. And that was okay with Alderman John Olivarri who offered the motion, but said he hoped his fellow board members turned it down.
The outer road concept was the most recent offer by MoDOT.
In a Feb. 1 memo to the board, Mayor Penny Lyons encouraged the board to accept MoDOT’s most recent offer to extend Osage Beach Parkway to Y Road and remove the dead end guard rail and dirt pile.
The city’s cost would be one third with the city’s remaining two-thirds covered by MoDOT and other state cost share funding.
However, the board rejected her suggestion when Olivarri’s motion never reached a vote.
MoDOT also offered to design and build previously considered options including a slip ramp with a roundabout, or a slip ramp without a roundabout. The city’s share in cost would be half.
Neither of those was seriously considered by the board.
Mark Beeler, a local Realtor; Kim Loehr, a business owner; Nelson Hediger, a West End property owner; Bill Paul, an employee of a Parkway restaurant; Norm Buechting of HMI Fireplace; and Bill Bennett, a concerned resident, all shared a common message: Options offered by MoDOT to improve traffic flow and safety in the Key Largo area are shortsighted, impractical and unworkable.
Paul, who works at Jake Culpeepers east of Rt. KK, said he has a clear view of Osage Beach Parkway and “the traffic is no longer there.” The outer road option is not a solution, and businesses need immediate relief, he said.
Beeler, owner of The Beeler Group/ReMAX Lake of the Ozarks, urged the board to listen to business and property owners and residents before making a decision. He urged the board not to disregard the impact that economic problems will have on property values.
“We’re all here to work together and for Osage Beach taxpayers, he said. “Don’t lose sight of the fact that we are a destination location for tourists and we need to encourage tourists to come here.”
Page 2 of 2 - He reminded the board a car dealership decided not to locate on Osage Beach Parkway west of Rt. KK largely because of the uncertainty of the area.
There was little consensus among the board for a short-term solution, although most agreed that a full-scale interchange was needed to re-open the west end of the city and to provide viable infrastructure for the future. That option, they agree, is out of the question if the city’s share of the construction cost is the estimated $3 to $7 million.
Alderman Olivarri wondered if the city risks losing MoDOT’s offer for 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 cost share if it continues to forestall a decision.
“Should the city hold back and then might the funding disappear?” he wondered. “The money might not be in their 2014 budget. It all comes down to what the businesses are willing to accept.”
City Administrator Nancy Viselli said MoDOT is interested in an interchange, but can’t justify the expense based on projected traffic counts.
“Cost share money is available now, but other people are in line and might not be there when we’re ready,” she said.
The board rejected a MoDOT offer several weeks ago, and re-allocated $1.4 million earmarked for highway construction to other areas of the budget.