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Belton Mayor delivers 2022 State of the City Address

Belton Mayor Norm Larkey delivered his 2022 State of the City Address to the Belton Chamber of Commerce during its November luncheon meeting at Memorial Station. Following is the address, along with illustrations provided by the City:

Belton Mayor Norm Larkey

Good afternoon,


I want to thank the Belton Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event, with an extra thank you to Executive Director, Diane Huckshorn.


I would like to recognize and thank the elected officials in the room for their attendance today and their dedication and service to our community, including our City Council members and county elected officials.


I would also like to recognize city staff for their dedication and hard work. They are committed to serving the citizens of Belton. Thank you for all that you do.


For those of you who have not had the opportunity to meet our new City Manager, I would like to introduce Joe Warren.


BELTON 150

We can’t talk about 2022 without talking about the 150th Birthday celebration! Thank you again to everyone who pitched in and made it the best birthday party Belton has ever had.

I was happy to see so many people having a great time on Main Street. That is what community is all about! Our goal was to create a sense of community, and we accomplished that!

I asked Diane Huckshorn and Michelle Mellinger-Richardson to be the co-chairs of the committee and Angela Kraft to be the City Council Liason. My requests were to have the events on Main Street and make as much as possible free for the citizens. They pulled it off with great success!


PARK DEPARTMENT

Speaking of community, our park department focuses on families and amenities. Quality of life is one of their top priorities.



The Belton Park Department continues to provide great trails, parks, events for families, youth programs, and provides beautification throughout the city with plants from their greenhouse and trees from their tree farm.


High Blue sported a new name and logo this year to simplify and update its look and they debuted a new app to help build a loyal customer base and create a sense of community.

I am happy to report that the wellness center has rebounded from COVID and has more than 7,000 members.


All youth sports leagues including soccer, flag football, basketball, baseball, and softball are on a steady incline.

Memorial Station continues to be a destination and hosted 215 weddings, anniversaries and other special events.


Memorial Park hosted its 1st annual Car-B-Que in September, which combined a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned backyard contest and the annual Car Show. The partnership was perfect so look for this event to grow next year.


Memorial Park also hosted several free community events, including the Easter Egg Hunt, Summerfest, Theater in the Park, and Pumpkin Palooza. Cleveland Lake hosted several disc golf tournaments throughout the year and the first annual Kids Fishing Derby! Wallace Park hosted Big Bounce America for the second time, which drew several thousand visitors over the July 4th weekend.

The Belton Farmers Market moved to its new location on 58 Highway in the Belton Assembly of God church parking lot that not only increased vendor signups but foot traffic as well.

The Park Department was recently awarded a $40,000 2022 Playground Scrap Tire Material Grant. The grant will be used to replace the surface material at the Memorial Park inclusive playground. Three additional playground pieces also will be added.  


Eagles’ Landing had another great year. Golf’s popularity continues to grow for adults and junior golfers, a record number of rounds were played, and revenues have grown in 2022.

Eagles Landing hosted many events this year:

The “Youth on Course” program participation continues to increase - junior golfers are playing in record numbers this year.


Eagles Landing hosted a record of five “US Kids” local tournaments with over 700 junior participants

and hosted many special events and tournaments this year raising tens of thousands for local charities.


  • The “Girls Golf District Championship” for Belton High School returned for the second consecutive year.


  • The “Belton Chamber Glow in the Dark” Golf Tournament was a huge success again and the weather could not have been more perfect!


  • The Driving Range netting was completely replaced this summer.


BELTON SENIOR CENTER

The Belton Senior Center has been serving those 60 and older in the Belton, Raymore and Peculiar area since 2012. The center is located at the A. Ives Reid Celebration Center (point towards the center’s location). The Senior Center provides daily lunch at no cost to participants. They also offer weekly crafts, exercise classes, special speakers and a fan favorite - Bingo!

2022 was a big year for the Belton Senior Center. The Senior Center building underwent an amazing transformation thanks in part to a Mid America Regional Council grant which funded new lightweight commercial folding tables, high-performance textured flooring, new windows, ADA-compliant restrooms, drywall repair, updated paint, and a new AED machine.


A highlight of the year was celebrating Dick Morris’ 100th birthday in September and the Senior Center went all out! Dick was welcomed by American Legion Riders, Chapter 21, the Belton Fire Department, city manager – Joe Warren, and Councilmember, Dave Clark. Unfortunately, I was out of town and unable to attend. Doc Golden with the Vietnam Veterans of America presented Dick with a special award and recognized him for his service.


PUBLIC SAFETY

Our Public Safety departments provide excellent service to our citizens, and they know how to have a little fun.

In preparation for this school year, our Police Department challenged our Fire Department to a friendly school supply drive competition. Great pranks were pulled on each department and in the end, the Fire department took home the trophy!


Over 16,000 school supplies were collected and donated to children in the Belton School District. So many school supplies were donated that there were leftovers to be handed out, as needed, during the school year and they already have a jump start on next year’s collection!


Public education and professional development continue to be key focuses for the Belton Fire Department.

FIRE DEPARTMENT

Recently, the department conducted a Fire Prevention campaign on Facebook to educate the public and reached 2,000 students with in-school presentations.

The professional development within the department included a Station Captain Development program, HCA Midwest Trauma Society training, and vertical Ventilation/Roof Operations to name a few.


Year to date, our firefighters and paramedics have;

  • responded to over 4,700 calls,

  • completed over 5,700 hours of training, and

  • completed 553 inspections.













POLICE DEPARTMENT

The Police Department continued its commitment to community engagement through activities such as participating in community parades, events, and charity fundraisers as well as hosting food truck Fridays once a month at the police station.



The Police Department has expanded their team by hiring;

  • 4 Officers,

  • 3 Dispatchers,

  • 4 Jailers, and

  • 1 Records clerk.

This year, to date, dispatch has received over 55,500 calls (both 911 and non-emergency calls), officers wrote just under 5,700 police reports, and there have been 838 animal control calls.



The citizen vote to pass the Public Safety Sales Tax was critical and continues to allow our public safety departments to purchase life-saving equipment that assists our first responders in providing top-quality service and keeping our citizens safe, such as a tanker, equipment for a new fire engine, patrol cars, and a SWAT and rescue vehicle – to name a few.











PUBLIC WORKS

Our Public Works department has been busy this year maintaining and upgrading our critical infrastructure. It has been able to do so because our citizens saw the need and voted in favor of stormwater bonds in 2019, and street/water line replacement bonds in April of this year. I want to thank the citizens for their confidence and for their votes.


This year, the stormwater bonds paid for several stormwater projects including the Hargis Lake project, located in the Hargis Gardens West subdivision off Westover Road. This is a priority project to eliminate stormwater flooding and sanitary sewer backups that residents were experiencing. It is a complex project because all the water lines and sanitary sewer lines had to be relocated to accommodate the stormwater improvements.


Earlier this year, stormwater culverts under Cambridge Road (east of Peculiar Drive) experienced joint separation, undermining the roadbed and causing deterioration and settlement. This project removed the existing culverts and installed new reinforced culvert boxes.


The culverts on West Cambridge Road (between Pawnee and Westover Road) are being replaced with new culverts, which will allow for the removal of the low water crossing and improve the stormwater drainage on the south side of Cambridge Road.


The initial phase of the Street Preservation Project was completed last year, and the second phase began this year. In total, this year, over five lane miles of roads have been reconstructed, 40,676 feet of curb have been replaced, and 89 sidewalk ramps were brought into ADA compliance.


Water Line Replacement is a high priority for the city. This year two critical water lines were replaced. Thank you to the citizens for passing Questions 2 and 3 this April – making these projects possible.

A new PVC water line has just been installed which replaced the old cast iron water line on Allen Avenue. This project was funded by a public-private partnership between the city of Belton and NorthPoint Development.


The city replaced the last cast iron water pipe in Old Town and increased the capacity of the line to accommodate the growth of restaurants and breweries on Main Street. The project was located between Walnut Street and South Scott Avenue.


The Belton Wastewater Treatment Facility treats an average of 1.5 million gallons of sewage per day. The gearboxes, aerator shafts, bearings, and discs for aerators were replaced to keep the facility running smoothly.


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

In case you haven’t noticed, Belton is growing.


Year to date there has been over $42.2 million in capital investment, adding 340,000 square feet of commercial and residential real estate to our footprint. New commercial construction projects have added over 28,700 square feet of real estate so far this year including R-G Federal Credit Union’s new location with higher visibility on Towne Center Drive; Old Navy, a national clothing retailer, is underway in the Belton Gateway shopping center next to Ulta Beauty; Take 5 and Chase Bank are under construction and will be co-tenants at the corner of 58 and Mullen. Scooter’s is constructing a new location in Old Town Belton on 58. (The first new national retailer to locate west of 163rd Street in the last decade.) Last week the Planning Commission approved The Other Place, an American sports grill and pizzeria, which will be located off North Cedar Street.


Other businesses that opened this year include:

  • Dutch Bros (their first Missouri location),

  • McBee’s Coffee and Carwash, and

  • Caliber Collison.

On top of the new commercial construction, 15 new businesses moved into existing real estate including:

  • Twisted Tango Frozen Yogurt, Thrive Hydration & Wellness,

  • Rally House – I was their very first customer!

  • and don’t forget Popeyes!

Reinvestment has been a trend in Belton this year. Hampton Chiropractic & Massage, Arbys and Chipotle underwent remodels to modernize; Lily’s Play N Stay is adding more personal rooms for their four-legged clients; Carnegie Village is adding a salon and activity room; and

Belton Regional Medical Center plans to remodel and expand its oncology department.



Main Street holds a special place in my heart. I am happy to see new businesses continue to choose Main Street each year. This year, four new businesses have chosen Main Street.

  • Lueck’s BBQ anticipates opening in the first quarter of 2023,

  • 816 Vintage already has a following,

  • Look out for news on 322 Main Street, and

  • Habitat Architects LLC is close to completion of their new space.

And a continued thanks to all businesses that keep Main Street going. Especially, Tara’s Café and Broken Hatchet Brewing, which have changed Main Street for the better.

Building 4, in the Southview Commerce Center, is constructed and ready for a tenant or tenants that will add another major business to Belton’s growing list. Something special about Building 4 is that it houses the Training and Technical Center of Cass County. The all-new Training and Technical Center of Cass County, has training classrooms, a conference room, private office space and an internet café. The facility is a result of a years-long collaborative effort by the City of Belton, NorthPoint Development, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, Belton School District #124 and Metropolitan Community College.