By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL Mo. -- The Hannibal City Council voted Tuesday night to pursue preventive maintenance of the city's pigeon population.
City Manager Jeff LaGarce said Big River Oil has reduced the avian pest population using traps and air rifles by nearly 60 percent since the council approved the measure in early December. The Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Department of Agriculture have approved both methods of population control for pigeons.
The original reduction project was bid at $5,500 for approximately two months of service. Big River Oil has offered to continue pigeon maintenance for $2,600 per year.
LaGarce explained casual maintenance could prevent Hannibal from hosting an excessive amount of pigeons again. LaGarce said the council could withdraw maintenance later if necessary.
In other business, Hannibal may have a new restaurant on North Main. The council unanimously approved selling the Murphy Motors building at 422 N. Main to entrepreneurs Bill Martin and Lance Smith. The duo intends to transform the building into a brewpub with space for gaming as well as a grocery store. The sale had been postponed at the council meeting Jan. 15. Initially the buyers had hoped to open the brewpub in June. Martin did not comment when the council inquired how long it would take to open the restaurant.
The council also entertained a lengthy discussion regarding speed control on Stardust Drive. A resident read a letter he'd written to the council reasoning that the speed on the street should be raised from 25 mph to 30 mph. He argued that bumping up the speed limit would allow for consistency among Hannibal streets. He said several similar streets had speed limits set at 30 mph.
LaGarce agreed that 25 mph on that street seemed slow, but he also contended that residents have had deep concern about traffic control on Stardust Drive. Due to a recent extension, the street carries a large volume of cars. While studies from the Hannibal Police Department indicate that the concentration of speeders is no worse on Stardust Drive than on other streets, it may appear that way due to the volume of cars on the road. Ward 1 councilman Kevin Knickerbocker said he's never had someone in that neighborhood, which is in his ward, suggest a speed increase.
LaGarce recommended Stardust Drive remain at 25 mph and that the city explore the possibility of installing speed tables, traffic calming devices designed as a long speed hump with a flat section in the middle.
He said speed tables would encourage drivers to reduce speed if traveling faster than legal. The slightly raised sheets of material would be strategically placed in between stop signs to force consistent speed. The council tabled the discussion to seek more opinions from neighborhood residents.
"This is their neighborhood, not ours," LaGarce said.
The council also spoke extensively with Bob Burditt, owner of Burditt Construction LLC, regarding scrap rock from the former site of the wastewater treatment plant. The council voted in December to raze the old sewer treatment plant near the confluence of the Mississippi River and Bear Creek. After demolition, LaGarce intended to leave the scrap rock as is.
Burditt insisted the rock has value and that he wanted to find a way to obtain it.
LaGarce countered that the salvage would not be easily accessible and it would be more trouble to bid out the project than the rock was worth.
"I wouldn't bring this to the council," LaGarce said. "It's not worth it … there's not a single pile that's taller than I am."
The council unanimously voted to decline Burditt's request.