City clean up, grocery store big topics at town hall meeting
Residents gathered at the Martin Community Center Thursday night, Jan 18, hearing from several city council members and the city administrator. Michelle Pointer served as moderator.
Pointer said the mayor and council members' goals were centered around Marshall Municipal Utilities, city cleanup, a grocery store, a possible hotel and restaurant, and developing plans for new housing and businesses on empty lots.
City Councilman Rudy Reyes talked about plans for cleaning up the city. He said there were many structures falling apart and ready to be torn down. Several of these were condemned and have been for some time. He said there were multiple reasons the buildings and houses could not be demolished. Reyes added that money was a big issue.
Looking into the situation, the city doing the work as opposed to going to an outside source would be the most cost-efficient way to raze the houses and buildings.
He said another way the city is looking to clean up Marshall is by enforcing ordinances where citizens would take care of their property by doing away with vehicles, furniture and appliances in yards. Additionally, by keeping grass and weeds cut and trimmed is a way to make residential areas more appealing.
The city council has been in talks with a grocery store for Marshall, according to City Councilman Ron Ott.
"I had gotten drafted, and I guess volunteered to be the point person on recruitment of a grocery store, and it's kind of expanded over the last 22 months to all retail business," he said. "I started off working with Stan (Moore) and MSDC."
It's a long process. He said there is one company he has been in contact with, which has conducted feasibility studies. Visits from both sides have occurred in order to reach some kind of deal for a grocery store to come in. Ott said he could not divulge which store it was, but that they have been in talks for some time.
"I think one of the things that's hurting us is that we've been without a major grocery store in Marshall for over two years," he said. "These companies know, almost to the dollar, how much money is being spent in our community at any given time."
There have also been conversations with two other companies. The goal is to make something happen this year.
There are also plans to bring new housing and other developments into Marshall. One such development is a new hotel and restaurant at the intersection of U.S. Highway 65 and Highway YY. He said the original developer has dropped out, but there is an investor that is still interested and is eager to work with the city to find a new developer for the project.
Council members feel by bringing in new housing and developing similar projects, it would strengthen the opportunity for developing commercial businesses and areas, which in turn will help the city's schools and community.
City Councilman Dan Brandt spoke about the former Marshall Habilitation Center property.
"We're just waiting on a signature from the governor," he said.
He said the city's legal team has looked at it and signed it. The agreement has been on the governor's desk for a few months. Brandt added that no one else can sign the agreement but the governor.
City Administrator Dave Haugland said there are a couple of individuals close to the governor that are working with city officials to urge the governor to sign. The intention is to hopefully complete this as soon as possible. The longer the city has to wait, the greater the value of the remaining buildings decreases.
The council believes having the property will greatly benefit the city and schools.
"We felt there was an opportunity to help our school district," Brandt said. "If we got strong schools, we got a strong community."
Currently, the Marshall Public School District is using the Spainhower Building, Tudor House and guest house.