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The Lake News Online
  • Committee considers solutions to west Osage Beach economic problems

  • The 10-member Osage Beach Citizen Advisory Committee agreed on one thing Tuesday night ― there is, indeed, a serious economic problem on the west end of Osage Beach Parkway.
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  • The 10-member Osage Beach Citizen Advisory Committee agreed on one thing Tuesday night ― there is, indeed, a serious economic problem on the west end of Osage Beach Parkway.
    What to do about it is elusive as committee members debated dozens of ideas for well more than an hour before deciding to meet again in three weeks.
    Mayor Penny Lyons recently activated the committee to consider several issues relating to the economic future of the city, especially the Osage Beach Parkway west of the Grand Glaize Bridge. The objective is to create a list of possible solutions that can be presented to the board of aldermen in September.
    “There are a lot of ways you can go,” Lyons said to the group before Geniece Tyler was elected chairman. “There could be some short term ideas or long term ideas.”
    She encouraged committee members to talk to their friends, neighbors and customers for their input.
    Ideas
    Getting the business community involved is paramount to moving forward, according to committee member Pat Cantwell.
    “The businesses have to come up to the table. They have to show some initiative,” he suggested. “We can’t expect the city to do it all.”
    Phyllis Marose, a Ward II alderman and west end businesswoman, agreed. Marose is not a member of the committee, but represents the economically strapped businesses that are part of her ward.
    She offered a list of ideas gathered from her constituents.
    “I’m very, very concerned,” she said of the economic plight of the area west of the Grand Glaize Bridge. Improving the traffic flow in that area is one way to boost interest, she said.
    The ideas included:
    •Some type of annual festival.
    •A car show similar to the Magic Dragon show, but attracting a different type of vehicle. The intent would be to create an Osge Beach niche for car enthusiasts without stealing the Magic Dragon event.
    •Encouraging the owners of vacant property along Osage Beach Parkway to lease their properties for event use and for parking. Shuttles could be provided.
    •Block off parts of the Parkway for events, festivals, car or boat shows, etc. Marose acknowledged potential liability issues, but suggested those could be overcome.
    •Establish arts and/or crafts festivals with the support of the Lake Arts Council and other local cultural groups. This could offer several opportunities for vendors.
    •Create passport cards that offer various types of discounts to businesses on the west end of the Parkway.
    Page 2 of 3 - •Create an annual parade that does not compete with any of the other lake-area parades.
    •Create a trolley system between the east side of the Grand Glaize Bridge and the west side.
    •Create a marketing strategy for west end businesses that could include cooperative advertising campaigns.
    “These are just a few of the ideas and we’d need people to be committed for any of them to work,” Marose said.
    Cantwell reiterated his contention that the businesses must also get involved.
    “All of these (ideas) will only be successful if the businesses share the responsibility,” he said.
    If not, then the committee and the city will have gained nothing, Cantwell offered.
    Economic developer
    Linda Craig, a long-time Osage Beach resident and business owner west of the Grand Glaize Bridge, said “businesses are dropping quickly.”
    The challenges of rebuilding the west end are far more arduous than can be tackled by a committee, she said. A full-time economic advisor is needed to help guide the area ― and the city, she said.
    “The public is going to the malls, the big box stores, the national chains. That’s the wave of the future,” Craig said. “I haven’t heard a bad idea tonight, but I sat in this room and saw how many raised their hand to be chairman.
    “I think you need to understand that a hired gun is needed for the city to get events, to know how and where to go to get events. To sit here and do one or two events, that’s fine, but there’s no draw.”
    Marose agreed, saying the city needs a full-time economic developer.
    “Osage Beach is a viable, progressive town. I do feel we need somebody more in charge who does nothing but coordinate and develop,” she said.
    Other suggestions
    •The west end needs to create a brand for itself and get away from the west side moniker that is already taken by the Highway 5 area of the lake. Branding could include a specific name for the area such as what Kansas City and St. Louis have for their specialty areas.
    •The GPS directions for much of the Osage Beach Parkway need to be updated. Several committee members said they constantly provide directions to lost tourists, and even local residents.
    •Improved directional markings on the highways to lure people off the Expressway and onto the Parkway. These would be similar to what is used in the Branson area.
    Page 3 of 3 - •Consider rezoning areas west of the bridge to make it easier for affordable housing, or for businesses to locate. More people living in the area bring more traffic and potential business.
    •There is a desperate need for a year-round flow of people.
    •Create a “street meet” for the bass and crappie tournaments. Vendors could sell their wares and attract not only tournament fishermen but also local residents.
    •Establish consistent, year-after-year events so area residents and out-of-the-area residents can plan well in advance to come to the lake.
    •Establish a park-like environment with trees, flowers, boulevards, etc., to establish a beautification program for the area.
    Conclusion
    The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, in the lower level of the city hall.
    The ideas presented Tuesday night will be refined and shared with the committee and members of the public who choose to attend.
    Marose will encourage business and property owners to attend as a show of support for the city’s initiative.
    A car show group that could bring as many as 300 vehicles here will be invited to attend.

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