Clearing up Clean Sedalia confusion

By Mary Merritt Guest Columnist

July 4, 2014

Recent printed comments opposed to parking restrictions on Broadway have raised valid points and deserve a response. First, the Citizens for a Clean Sedalia Committee has no power to make laws. We only recommend to the Sedalia City Council. Only the Council can pass ordinances.

The Committee, which is made up of regular citizens, was instructed to tackle the problem of cleaning up Sedalia. All of us are from here. Because we love our City and the people here, we volunteered to take on this task. Folks, Sedalia’s appearance is critically important to our future and is vital to its economic well-being. It is one of our most essential economic development tools. If properties are run down, the grass is too high, downtown and residential buildings are collapsing, our indoor furniture is sitting in the front yard and cars are improperly parked, industries, retail and the jobs they bring, will find Sedalia a less attractive place to bring their families. Such an environment can lead to increased crime.

I know of more than one instance where a very fine Sedalia home sold for less because of the condition of the property next door. Understandably, dealing with such matters can create controversy, but they are issues that must be addressed. In addition, Sedalia’s strong financial rating of A+ could have been stronger. We have a strong budget, a strong reserve and very favorable audits, but our property values are weaker than what Standard and Poors would like to see. A financial rating is critically important to a city.

People going through Sedalia will get their impression of our city by what they see on our main residential thoroughfare — East and West Broadway Boulevard — a major national highway. That includes people thinking about moving here with their industries and retail and related jobs. Cars being parked haphazardly in a front yard negatively impact a person’s impression of our wonderful city.

One argument against the Broadway front yard parking ordinance is that the problem is minor and not widespread. True enough, but it is a problem that is slowly growing. Four years ago it was not an issue. Two years ago it slowly began to be an issue. The goal of this proposed ordinance is to address this problem before it becomes a challenge too big to easily resolve. Currently, less than a handful of properties would be impacted.

If we had taken this approach years ago with city structural issues, we would not be expending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on the demolition of buildings the owners refuse to pay. The trend on Broadway is not going toward less front yard parking — it is slowly going in the direction of more.

Another argument is that the front yard parking prohibition needs to be citywide and not just on Broadway. We strongly disagree. No other Sedalia residential street is as visible to the public as East and West Broadway. Not only would a citywide front yard parking prohibition be difficult to enforce, it is not necessary.

Finally, I have seen in print that the committee is overstepping its bounds with the proposed front yard ordinance. One of our tasks is to not only address problems that have been neglected for years, but to address problems that are showing early signs of growth before they become unmanageable. Broadway front yard parking is one of those. Again, the committee can only recommend solutions. It is ultimately up to the City Council if it wants to address these issues or not address them.

Mary Merritt is the chairman of the Citizens For A Clean Sedalia Committee.