Why was city hall decision done in haste?

Saturday, September 7, 2019

The merry-go-round that is the five-year debate on where to locate Poplar Bluff’s city offices took another turn this week.

City council members voted Tuesday to pursue a location on Shelby Road and have given the go-ahead for officials to start negotiations to purchase property.

It’s a move that has left some residents’ heads spinning, since as recently as January the council made another land purchase. They added to the city’s growing collection of downtown acreage with the $165,000 spent to buy a building at Pine and Second streets.

Since the location adjoined two other lots that previously served as a city complex, it seemed like a step in the direction of a downtown city hall. After all, the council members voted unanimously in 2016 to do just that. The vote came after impassioned pleas from many residents to remain in the heart of the city.

But on Tuesday, our council went into a meeting with a published agenda to discuss a presentation from a consultant regarding the status of this project.

They left having voted on a new location for our police department, city hall and city court.

A great deal of information was presented during the meeting, including suggested square feet and cost of these buildings.

Our concern is that the public was not given an opportunity to review or weigh in on this matter before a new direction was chosen by our elected officials.

Given how strongly residents have responded to this topic in the past, and previous attempts to remove city government offices from the area they have occupied for more than 115 years, we find the method taken at this meeting confusing.

Why did council members not publish this as a voting item, if the situation demanded immediate action?

Why after five years of back and forth on the topic, did it demand immediate action on this particular Tuesday evening? Why not follow normal procedure and put it on the council’s next voting session agenda Sept. 16?

When elected officials act in haste, it often feels like an attempt to shortcut or eliminate the taxpayers’ ability to participate in their municipal government.

While we believe in the desire of our city council to find the best option for citizens and staff members, this method may not have been the best way to convey that.

–Daily American Republic

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