The Nixa City Council moved forward July 22 with a financial commitment to its downtown by dedicating $30,000 for façade improvements, and allocating money to purchase two lots on Elm Street for parking. 

“During the last council meeting, there was a lot of discussion about increasing the amount of money for the façade grant that is available,” said City Administrator Jimmy Liles. “Originally it was sitting at $15,000. At the direction of council we did go back and prepare a budget amendment for the amount of $30,000, which I think is a good amount to get that program started. “

The amount is double what was discussed in May and is subject to a granting process. Applicants would follow certain criteria, subject to council approval, for improvements to buildings in downtown. The money would be spent to improve a building’s appearance, not for new construction. 

According to information from Liles, the administration will present an ordinance allowing for the allocation of funds at the next council meeting. The money will then be awarded according to the grant procedures set in place.

Because Nixa has some of the same parking problems that many cities with downtown areas face—not enough of it—the council approved up to $45,000 to purchase property for public parking. 

“If you currently take a look at the business that are in the area and compare that to the amount of parking spaces required for those businesses, we should have about 171 parking spaces,” Liles said. “Currently we are sitting at 43. There’s definitely a deficit there, so we have been looking at options to help alleviate that issue.” 

Liles said the lots are in a “really good location, directly across the street from the current city parking,” and staff is currently working on the parking design.  

District 2 Councilman Matt Barker noted that the lots at 104 and 106 Elm St. are where the petting zoo was held during the Nixa Sucker Day celebration.

Liles said that Hideaway Development, LLC has agreed to sell the two lots for a total of $41,250. The $45,000 will cover closing costs and fees associated with the sale. 

He said the additional parking would also promote future development.

Mayor Brian Steele recused himself from debating both pieces of legislation because of conflicts of interest, saying he owned a business in downtown.

The meeting was the last for Mayor Pro Tem Jimmy Ledbetter, District 1 councilman. Ledbetter and his family are relocating to Florida. 

District 3 Coucilwoman Darlene Graham thanked Ledbetter for his commitment to Nixa.

“Jimmy is leaving us,” Graham said.  “I just want to say thank you so much for your time, energy and efforts— and all you’ve done to make this council a better place.”

Steele said that Ledbetter has been a valuable asset to the community and a good friend to him. 

“He’s been my friend for 15 years,” Steele said. “He’s been wonderful friend to me and a wonderful leader for our community. He’ll be an incredible asset for us to lose.”

Ledbetter said he appreciated the opportunities to serve the community.

“I just want to say thank you to everybody. Thank you for letting me serve with you guys,” Ledbetter said. “ It’s been an amazing opportunity. “ 

According to information in a city news release, residents of District 1 may submit a letter of interest by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 9 to City Clerk Cindy Robbins to be considered for appointment to represent the district.  Steele will review the letters and select a candidate for recommendation to for appointment to the city council. The five council members will vote to fill the seat at the Aug. 12 meeting.  Those interested candidates are invited to attend that meeting to address the council regarding their desire to serve prior to the vote. 

The person appointed to the seat will serve until the end of Ledbetter’s current term, which expires April 7, 2020. 

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