Today we continue publishing the Merriam mayoral candidates’ responses to our general election questionnaire. Here’s the second item:
What steps should the city be taking to bring new businesses and visitors to Merriam’s historic downtown?
he reality is that downtown Merriam is a service district, not another Parkville. To continue spending your tax dollars on unnecessary art projects there is not spending wisely. Our tax dollars should be spent on the basic needs of residents and on improving infrastructure.
Ken Sissom (incumbent)
This has been a problem for our city for years. In the 1980’s the city spent a lot of money to construct a new street, sidewalk and drainage system. Businesses were given some financial incentives at that time to improve the appearance of their buildings. Several of them took advantage of these opportunities. In the end, the area was improved dramatically. It was hoped we would see more shops and small restaurants move there. That did happen, but not to the degree the city had hoped for. The biggest problem is that much of the area is in a flood plain and as such, it seriously hampers business owners from doing some improvements to their properties. They can not enlarge the footprint without bringing the new structure out of the floodplain. Unfortunately, this is still a problem. We have some very nice businesses operating in downtown now and we need to do what we can to keep them there. We are making improvements to the area. We have added some outdoor art, our farmer’s market has been successful and there is a possibility of creating some added excitement with how we handle the existing Community Center structure. Perhaps it is time for the council to take a look at bringing back some incentives for business owner to make cosmetic improvements that could attract new businesses.
Tomorrow the candidates will respond to item three: What’s the biggest challenge facing Merriam today, and what will you do over the next four years to address it?