Aldermen Rucker opened the discussion with a plea to business owners to be more positive as they and the city strive to improve economic conditions on the Parkway West.

The city of Osage Beach has decided that many of the recommended tasks from a recent study of Osage Beach Parkway West can be handled in-house rather than spending thousands of dollars more for a consultant.

The city contracted with HDR consultants for $60,000 last fall with the task of conducting a thorough study of Osage Beach Parkway West with input from the public. Two public meetings were held to solicit input from the community. As a wrap-up of that phase of the project, HDR provided city officials with a list of tasks that could be undertaken to move the project into the next phase.

The board of aldermen held a special workshop June 22 to discuss the most recent HDR report, and after about an hour of discussion concluded that spending an estimated $320,000 to continue with the study wasn't the best use of public funds. The city will, however, pursue several of the recommendations in-house to move the process forward.

Aldermen Kevin Rucker said he was less than impressed with the HDR document, noting he had hoped for specifics on what actions the city could take to help solve the economic challenges of Parkway West.

"I've looked through report, and picked out a number of things I think we should do," he said. "But I'm not impressed with the report from the standpoint that I expected it to do stuff rather than telling us how we should do it. I expected some more things to be done rather than this document telling us how we take the next step."

The HDR report presented a menu of tasks for the city to consider that could cost more than $300,000 to complete if pursued through use of the consultants. Mayor John Olivarri said he didn't think the city would pursue that option.

"First off, I don't think the city is ever going to put $320,000 into one study. It's just not the best use of our funds," he offered. "But I do think that we need to be looking soon at our next steps. We're doing a lot of this from the management side already. The question is, what do we want to do to get our our city to develop?"

The mayor noted later in the meeting that he, too, was disappointed in the report.

One of HDR's recommended tasks was to develop a marketing plan for the city, and Mayor Olivarri agreed.

"My vision is that we look more at an overall market plan for Osage Beach, taking into account, evaluating the existing business, to determine what we need to do to add to existing businesses," he explained. "What do we need to do to continue infilling in the city where we have vacancies? A market study will tell us what we need and then we can set our sights in moving that direction."

City Planner Cary Patterson noted the city has never done an all-inclusive marketing study such as an Overall Economic Development Plan (OEDP).

"We've never done an all-inclusive market study, we've never done an Overall Economic Development Plan (OEDP) for the city," Patterson explained. "And I think we are at a point because of what we've gone through that I don't know how we can efficiently go through a comprehensive land use process without having an OEDP, or at least those ideologies as a basis for future plans."

Much of what is included in the three HDR studies can be done locally, he noted, adding that $300,000 would go a long way toward providing the city with documents and processes to continue moving forward. 

Negativity

Aldermen Rucker opened the discussion with a plea to business owners to be more positive as they and the city strive to improve economic conditions on the Parkway West.

"I think we should realize that Osage Beach West is part of the city, and we need to communicate to our business people that don't need to be so negative," he said. "The reason I say this is that I've seen some ads I believe were negative. To me, it's negative to say that, yeah, we're at the dead end of the parkway. We need to be positive about things, and that's one of the things on the West Side we've tried to do."

He said negative attitudes can ultimately hurt not only the affected area but also the entire community. Rucker wondered what the percentage of vacant buildings was on the West Side compared to the East Side, noting there seems to be a significant number of empty buildings east of the Grand Glaize Bridge.

There also are many service-oriented businesses on the Wast Side, and he sees that as a positive for future development.

Alderman Jeff Bethurem said he's also heard of the negativity, adding that is one reason the city has taken on trying to bring more economic activity to the West Side.

"I do think it's gotten better," he said. "There seems to be only a few that feel that way. Really, there's nothing we can do about their attitudes."

He said the community needs to create and encourage positive feedback, emphasizing the need to begin talking about Osage Beach as one community, not divided by a bridge. Maybe over time, he said, the community will come together as one.