Sedalia City Council members, along with Mayor John Kehde and department heads from code enforcement, building inspection, public works, administration and legal, took a 90-minute tour of Sedalia Monday night.

Community Development Director John Simmons hosted the tour. He explained the reason for the informal mobile Council meeting.

”It was an annual check-in to take Council on a tour of the City, show them the good things, the opportunities for improvement, the challenges that we face across the City, and keeping our housing stock up to date and in repair,” he said, adding that it was akin to orientation for new Council members and a refresher course for existing members as to the current state of affairs for Sedalia.

Simmons said he was encouraged by new construction seen in certain areas. “Hopefully we're on an upward swing, if we can get this whole community to gather resources and make things better, and taking note of what tools we have to make it better,” he commented after the tour.

Code enforcement was spotlighted and was the main topic of discussion among Council members. “We work with the homeowners to figure out how to make the neighborhoods better,” Simmons said.

Communication among neighbors to promote the betterment of the community is vital. “Sharing thoughts and ideas and vision for their neighborhoods and approaching the City and getting things done,” he noted.

Stabilizing and increasing the value of your neighborhood benefits Sedalia overall, he emphasized.

“That's the number one goal. We all want to see an increase in our investments, and our houses are our biggest investment that most citizens make. So how do you turn that $80,000 investment into $100,000 five, 10, 15 years later? We need to keep our eyes on these things,” Simmons concluded.

A total of 16 people took the tour that featured areas where there are "opportunities we need to tackle," according to Simmons.

Some of the challenges included junk cars, rubbish, peeling paint and various states of disrepair of some homes.

Some of the positive areas included those that Furnell Investments have made in the downtown area, including 200 new housing units that were not part of the downtown landscape five years ago. New construction will soon begin at 2nd and Lamine, where the old Kramer Building was demolished, he noted.

Another positive highlight talked about was the plan by the Swearingen family to remodel the old J.A. Lamy Building (Bast Storage) bordered by Jefferson, Pacific, Osage and North Ohio. It is a Mid-Town TIF (Tax Increment Financing) project. There is talk of a restaurant, bookstore, office space, luxury residential units and better lighting at that location. The three-story structure, built in 1893, sits across from the Amtrak Depot.

Vermont Park was held up as an improvement to the neighborhood after Parks & Rec spent close to a million dollars over the past year remodeling the entire park with better lighting and new playground facilities, a walking path and basketball court. The large ditches running along on the north side was also removed, along with some large trees.

A block of Habitat For Humanity homes were praised for their proximity to Housel Park. A few kids were busy playing in the park at the time the Council tour bus drove by.

A drive-through of Hubbard Park featured a nice view of the new Head Start Center. Expansion of the park's basketball court is under way.

The tour bus passed by a few lots where demolition had recently taken place, leaving behind a level, construction-ready lot with fresh dirt as the main feature.

The Council will return for their regular meeting May 6.

In the photo: Shown is an abandoned house on East 2nd Street that was boarded up by the City due to vandalism. Monday night's tour passed by some structures that are on the dangerous building and/or demolition list, as well as some of the brighter spots  in the State Fair City.

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