April 12, 2012

City to Pursue Grant Funding For Lake Improvements

After unsuccessfully attempting to secure funding for the construction of new restrooms and a shower house at Lake Show Me, the Memphis City Council will turn its attention to different funding sources that may mean slightly different plans for the popular recreation destination.

After applying for grant funding through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recreational trails program, the city will not pursue similar funding through DNR's Land and Water Conservation program.

City superintendent Roy Monroe suggested the new direction for the project after attending a meeting in Jefferson City with DNR officials representing both programs.

"It appears we may have been barking up the wrong tree," Monroe told the council. "At this meeting I learned that we need to be targeting our grant application at DNR's Land and Water Conservation program. The recreational trails money is earmarked for new trails, where as this funding is available for more general projects like ours."

Monroe also noted that the city may have to alter its plans in an effort to be successful in the funding search.

Initial plans had called for the construction of new restroom facilities with showers in addition to a large public meeting area to host events at Lake Show Me. Monroe stated officials at the meeting indicated the project would likely receive more favorable status for grants if it was broken into phases, specifically targeting the shower and restroom facilities first.

Other advice from grant officials included connecting the project with other park-wide improvements that can serve the community more broadly.

Monroe suggested such an idea could include installation of a bridge across the lake dam overflow drainage system, which would effectively connect recreational areas in the northeast and southeast parts of the park.

The superintendent had already identified one prospective crossing that might also help the project meet its matching funding for the grant application. Monroe told the council he was seeking information through the Regional Planning Commission regarding the availability of a Schuyler County bridge. The structure in question has been removed from traffic use, but because it is on the state's historic registry, the neighboring county was seeking to sell the structure to a buyer that will pledge to maintain the bridge.

Installation of a bridge to span the drainage area and connect the two sides of the lake park could provide benefits to all involved, as the City would take on upkeep and preservation responsibilities for the bridge, which would allow foot and possibly horse traffic, but would no longer be under the strain of vehicle traffic.

By connecting both sides of the park, the bridge would also benefit the lake's grant application for the new restroom facilities, as it would bring two campsites into the usage area. It would also tie the park's trail systems together with the campsites. The cost of the bridge's installation could be used as the city's match to any prospective grant funds.

The DNR Land and Water Conservation grants are federally funded through the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. They are administered by the State Inter-Agency Council for Outdoor Recreation (SIACOR) and the Department of Natural Resources.

The fiscal year 2012 grant application period is open March 15 to June 11, 2012. Applications must be postmarked by June 11, 2012 to be eligible.

Land and Water Conservation Fund grants are available to cities, counties and school districts to be used for outdoor recreation projects. Projects require a 55 percent match. All funded project sites are taken under perpetuity by the National Park Service and must only be used for outdoor recreational purposes.

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