The city of Osage Beach came within an eyelash of rejecting an agreement with MoDOT Thursday night to take over ownership and maintenance of Osage Beach Parkway.
It took some 11th-hour parliamentary footwork and assurances from city staff members to convince the board of aldermen to move forward with adopting an ordinance that brings the Parkway east and west of the Grand Glaize Bridge to the city limits into the city's inventory of streets.
The board has known for at least 120 days that the agreement was to be approved before mid-December after MoDOT gave the city a four-month notice that the effective date of the change would be midnight Thursday, Dec. 5. The final item on a punch list of repair work to the Parkway was completed by MoDOT Wednesday.
However, board members began to question the specifics of an agreement that City Administrator Nancy Viselli said has been in place since the board agreed in principal several months ago to take over the road.
The crux of the issue involves what portions of the Parkway the city is responsible for, and which portions MoDOT is to handle. With winter weather pending, aldermen wondered which entity would be plowing snow on bridges and at interchanges since MoDOT is retaining ownership of those parts of the Parkway.
Would the city lift its blades during a snowstorm as it crossed the bridges? What are the safety and liability issues if there's an accident on the bridges? What would the public fallout be if the city waits for MoDOT to clear snow from bridges and interchanges? If a city snowplow hits a MoDOT bridge, who's responsible?
Those were concerns tossed into the mix of discussion, with aldermen wondering if any of the specifics were in writing.
City Engineer Nick Edelman pointed out that based on an agreement already in place with MoDOT, the city also will not be plowing snow on Grand Glaize Bridge.
"But we're not going to create dangerous conditions for the public," he promised.
Aldermen were split on first reading of an ordinance accepting ownership of the Parkway, and Mayor Penny Lyons cast the tie-breaking vote to move forward with the second reading. Voting not to accept the first reading were Steve Kahrs, Ron Schmitt and Fred Catcott, each of whom raised potential safety and legal concerns. Voting to move forward were John Olivarri, Kevin Rucker and Michelle Myler.
During discussion as to who was responsible for what, City Engineer Nick Edelman assured the board the city would not jeopardize the safety of motorists regardless of which entity was responsible. He said MoDOT, based on multiple conversations between the city and MoDOT for months, was ready to turn over ownership at 12:01 a.m. Friday. He said there are color-coded maps that outline which areas MoDOT will service and which areas the city will service.
Page 2 of 2 - City Administrator Nancy Viselli reminded board members "there's an agreement in place now that makes it very clear who's responsible for what."
When the second reading was brought to the floor, Alderman Rucker voted with Kahrs, Schmitt and Catcott not to adopt the ordinance, thus potentially killing the agreement. During subsequent conversations, City Attorney Ed Rucker said parliamentary procedure dictates that someone within the prevailing can present a motion to reconsider the second reading either during the meeting in progress or at a future meeting.
Aldermen discussed the consequences of waiting until the next meeting — which would leave both MoDOT and city public works crews in limbo — or reconsidering the issue Thursday night. Aldermen Kahrs and Rucker were reluctant to move forward without additional clarification of specific responsibilities.
But after assurances from Viselli and Edelman that the concerns can be worked out, and that an existing agreement already outlines the duties, Rucker offered a motion to reconsider the second reading. Both his motion and the second reading were approved unanimously, thus adopting the ordinance.
Rucker quickly offered another motion, which was approved unanimously, that directs city staff to work out issues with MoDOT regarding snow removal, mowing, liability and safety.
"I think we're getting boxed in by MoDOT again," Kahrs said. "I think we have some legitimate concerns, and it irks me how this happened."