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Several Hannibal improvements discussed by Hannibal aldermen

Hannibal is moving forward with a series of improvements in Hannibal, including US61 upgrades, lighthouse repairs and re-purposing the St. Elizabeth Hospital.

Tuesday night was about making improvements in Hannibal right now and preparing for future success.

MoDOT already announced it will make significant improvements to Highway 61 in early 2018. It's a $6.5 million project that will add new sidewalks, curbing and street aprons.

One of the biggest improvements - grading which will help drainage during heavy rain events.

"Even on Moderate rain events, it's kind of a bowl (at the intersection of MM), the water can get a bit high," said Jeff LaGarce, Hannibal's city manager. "(The improvements) should drain the water as soon as it hits the ground. We won't have the hydroplaning problem anymore."

MoDOT asked Hannibal Aldermen to grant the use of public roads necessary for construction. That would cause temporary road closures during the construction.

Meanwhile in Downtown Hannibal, the Parks Department recommended the council sign off on a service agreement with MECO Engineering Company.

The job would include a structural investigation on the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.

"That way they can tell is it needs to be completely done from scratch, or we can do some rehab, or renovation to fix it." said Aron Lee, Assistant Director of Hannibal Parks.

Officials said the investigative report will not exceed $5000.

The Parks Department as allotted $75,000 in next year's budget for this project.

In the center of Hannibal, the Saint Elizabeth Hospital saga continues. Hannibal's City Manager says city council needs to take ownership of the property in order to allow the property to see a second life.

The city taking ownership, at no cost, will allow the property to be eligible for a grant to fund the removal of asbestos.

READ MORE ABOUT THE GRANT PROPOSAL

The property would then go back into the hands of a private developer, Ales and Company LC, for the development of a 55-room senior housing facility.

A proposed resolution would create a urban redevelopment district at 109 Virginia, which would would be a tax benefit for the private investors if approved.

This is a request of the investors that no property tax would be collected for up to 25 years.

LaGarce said this would ultimately be a benefit for America's hometown.

"It doesn't generate any taxes today, it's not going to generate any taxes tomorrow, and if we have to demolish it, we're not going to see any tax revenue off it anyway in the next 20 years," LaGarce said.

If the city had to demolish the property, it was estimated it would cost Hannibal's taxpayers between $500,000 and $800,000.

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