By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Hannibal City Council has elected to shoot and trap the immense pigeon population inhabiting the city.
During Tuesday's city council meeting, City Manager Jeff LaGarce announced Big River Oil has submitted a proposal to trap and shoot the pigeons with air rifles. This company provided the lowest bid and suggested a method acceptable to the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"Our first course of action will be to trap them," LaGarce said.
In October, the Hannibal City Council received a complaint from People for the Ethnical Treatment of Animals because the council had suggested using poison to control the population. This complaint began an uproar from animal activists, which eventually caused Reliable Pest Solutions to withdraw its bid from the council. The shooting and trapping method does not use poison.
Big River Oil submitted a bid of $5,500 and estimated the process would take 60 days. LaGarce intends to present an official contract for the council for approval at the Dec. 4 city council meeting.
LaGarce also discussed a flood of inquiries he's received regarding the Murphy Motors property and building at 422 N. Main St. The city purchased the space on Nov. 7 for $220,000 for reasons such as parking for motor coach tour buses, expanding downtown parking, creating venue space for downtown events also potentially reselling to a high-impact developer. Since the purchase, LaGarce has fielded dozens of requests for the preservation of the building as well as from parties interested in purchasing it. On Tuesday the council agreed to advertise for business proposal for the property, but the council seemed split about what action would eventually be taken.
Ward 2 councilman Mike Dobson said he knew of a resident in his ward that had a deep interest in submitting a proposal. Dobson also speculated that this person would meet most of the city's qualifications for obtaining the property.
Ward 5 councilman James Hark noted the number of new starts ups that have struggled in the past. While he hoped the economy would be able to support a business, he doubted the plausibility for receiving a business plan that would satisfy him.
"It's going to take a very strong business plan," James Hark said.
The council had initially discussed placing an information kiosk at that location, and James Hark also hoped the city could eventually provide this service to tourists.
While the mayor said he wasn't opposed to selling the property, he cautioned that he would not agree to sell it for any less than the city paid for it.
"I'm not in anyway against it," the mayor said. "I just don't want to waste taxpayer dollars."
The issue will be discussed further after more proposals are received.
The council also granted John Hark, director of emergency management, permission to waive the bid process for updating Hannibal's tornado sirens. This will allow John Hark to continue working with the company that services Hannibal's sirens and will allow for continued consistency with siren servicing procedures.
John Hark also noted that the Emergency Management Agency had received a $19,000 cut in funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. LaGarce recommended the city could make up the difference by using extra funding from the citywide cleanup and an unfilled position in the street department. While LaGarce said he hadn't been searching for a way to spend the extra money, emergency safety seemed like an excellent cause to allot the extra cash.
Mayor Roy Hark cited the May 2011 Joplin tornado and said he hoped to do whatever possible to keep residents safe.
"I don't think we can play with these citizen's lives," Hark said.
Additionally the council:
º Granted a parade permit for the Hannibal Jaycee's Toys for Tots parade on Dec. 1.
º Witnessed a presentation of a certificate of participation from the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau to Hannibal Arts Council for the annual Folk Life festival.
º Reappointed Kristy Trevathan to the Hannibal Tree Board.
º Approved a resolution to accept a Missouri Division of Tourism Grant for $5,000 for additional advertising.
º Approved a resolution to make U.S. Bank the depository for the Hannibal City Council.