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      Funding gap for new sidewalks in Hannibal

      Walking down Main Street in Hannibal may not always be an easy task.

      City manager Jeff LaGarce says the old sidewalks lining Hannibal's Main Street are in poor condition and pose significant safety concerns.

      KHQA's Jarod Wells found out there is a funding gap between the estimated project cost of new sidewalks and what the city can afford, but it has a plan to bring those new sidewalks to America's Hometown.

      The city of Hannibal has slightly more than $300,000 for new sidewalks on Main Street, but fixing or replacing them could cost almost $500,000.

      City Manager Jeff LaGarce said, "The sidewalks have to be paid for, they're not going to go in for free."

      Some of the money is coming from two MoDOT Enhancement Grants totaling nearly $186,000. And the rest will have to come from property owners.

      Last Tuesday, November 2nd council members heard and unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to levy a special assessment to make up the difference.

      LaGarce said, "In the end we'll have a total project cost. With the cash, in-kind contributions and the grant money that we've brought to the table, the difference will be assessed out on a per property basis, based on the lineal footage of each property and the amount of work that's done before each property."

      Which means if you have a smaller store front with less sidewalk, you will pay less than a store front with more sidewalk. The city of Hannibal did a map-based survey to find out if property owners would be in favor of a special assessment. City Manager Jeff LaGarce says the overwhelming majority were in favor of it.

      LaGarce said, "That's about the only way that we'll be able to build these sidewalks."

      The city of Hannibal will take care of removing the sidewalks. LaGarce says not all sidewalks will need to be taken out as some have recently been replaced by property owners.

      LaGarce said, "A lot of people have made some really nice investments in their buildings, but the infrastructure really hasn't improved with it."

      LaGarce says this project is just a spring board to a much larger project for the whole downtown area.

      The ordinance will have a second reading on November 16th.

      If it is approved, LaGarce says he anticipates the design agreement going before the city council on December 7th.

      He hopes to start bidding the project in the spring of 2011.