Jackson board OKs abandoning street

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

A few dozen Immaculate Conception Catholic Church members and school patrons breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday night when the Jackson Board of Aldermen narrowly passed their request for a partial street abandonment of Madison Street.

Had the 5-3 vote not gone in the church's favor, those sighs of relief would have turned into six months of frustration as the school and church would have been forced to find a new way to reconfigure the campus, which was partly torn to shreds by the May 6 tornado.

"It would have put us back six months," said school principal Tami Nenninger. "And it would have meant we would've been forced to open in August of 2005 instead of August 2004."

The board also unanimously voted down the abandonment of a one-block portion of Ohio Street to the south of Madison. That request was issued by city administrator Jim Roach on behalf of the city staff because of the now limited access to the road.

The school's campus plan includes a gymnasium that will be built over part of Madison Street. Now that the road abandonment is secured, the school will work to get its complete plans to the city. Soon after the plans are approved, the school can begin construction.

Aldermen Kerry Hoffman, Larry Cunningham and Val Tuschhoff voted against the measure abandoning the street.

"The citizens of Jackson own that street," Cunningham said after the meeting. "I'm finished giving away public property to private organizations."

If he could turn back the clock, Cunningham said, he would reconsider his affirmative vote to abandon part of Madison Street for the public high school and for the section of Ohio Street from Jefferson Street to Madison Street that the city already abandoned for Immaculate Conception.

"We've opened a can that is getting bigger and bigger," Cunningham said.

Traffic 'very marginal'

Alderman Dale Rauh, the newest member on the board, said he voted for the measure because the city already set a precedent with the public school.

Plus, he said, "I think the traffic through there is very marginal. IC is making a concerted effort to have an extensive campus, and I think we should support that any way we can."

Evelyn Wille, owner of a nearby bakery building that was demolished by the tornado -- and also a member of Immaculate Conception -- declined to comment on the decision after the meeting, but at a public hearing two weeks ago she said she had worries about how the street abandonment might affect future business if the Missouri Department of Transportation took 21 feet of right of way from the front of her property.

She did not say where she saw the plans that called for that much right of way, but MoDOT and city officials say no specific plans have been drawn up.

The Wille property is at the corner of Hope and Madison, but the abandonment only starts at the end of the Wille property.

The abandonment of Ohio Street south of Madison was defeated after a representative from Jackson Lanes and Southards Radio and Television Service protested.

Roach suggested abandoning that street because it would not serve through traffic and it wouldn't be worth maintaining considering it only served two properties.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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