With the start of a new year, the city of Desloge is already working on plans to improve and enrich the quality of life for its approximately 5,000 residents.

Dan Bryan, who began his tenure as city administrator six months ago, believes 2018 will be another year of potential growth and limitless possibilities for the city as it continues to set its sights on the future.

“Desloge residents are always wanting to improve the town,” he said. “We’re always wanting to make it a better place to live. It’s a good life here in Desloge, so that’s what we’re really wanting to focus on.”

One area of importance for Bryan over the course of the new year is the further development of community space.

“These are projects that you’re not necessarily going to get revenue returns from, but when you look back at it you can take some pride in what you have in your town,” he said. “You can say this is a real family-focused town where they are engaging folks to go outside, get away from technology for a while and enjoy their surroundings and family.”

Bryan placed several polls on the city’s Facebook page to discover what responses he’d receive from residents about several projects he had in mind.

“First would be a farmers’ market,” he said. “With that, I’m also thinking of some place where we can do benefit events or where residents can reserve a space and hold their barbecues. We need a location where these folks can go to and won’t have to struggle to find a place to make these things happen.

“I’d like to see a place like that where the city is simply saying, ‘We’re supporting you. Here’s a location where you can take advantage of some of those things to better your organization or your benefit, whatever that might be.”

Bryan also mentioned his desire to see a “dog park” in the city.

“Folks love their pets, so I’d like to incorporate a dog park on the Walnut Trail where people could walk their dogs, along with a couple of benches and a few things for the pets to play on,” he said. “It gives folks the opportunity to sit down, take a little break and watch their pet play. They can also interact with other people in the community who are there.”

There are also plans for upgrading the upper end of Walnut Trail and City Park.

“My vision for that would be a concrete trail to match the existing trail in the park,” Bryan said. “I also envision lighting the upper end of the trail, and if it’s possible, maybe light the entire trail within City Park. At that end of the trail, I’d really like to see some outdoor exercise / fitness equipment and a water fountain.

“I got really good feedback on this other poll, as well,” he said. “They were real supportive of that. People love Desloge City Park. It’s one of those retreats that when you go up there — especially when you get to the upper part — you can stare out into that field with all the oak trees. Just for a second it doesn’t feel like you’re standing in the middle of Desloge, Missouri. It kind of takes you to another place.”

Bryan is hoping to get several community organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts involved in the project, as well.

He said, “Maybe we’ll see if we can put in a few flower beds, make some bird houses or something to engage folks as well.”

Moving on to the subject of the city’s municipal court, Bryan said, “Last year we incorporated an amnesty week and we want to have a little more consistency with that this year. We want to offer it three times this year.

“We want people to realize that it’s not a trap. It’s not where you’re going to show up at city hall and we’re going to have an officer here to place you in handcuffs and you’re going to jail. That’s not the intent. The intent is to create an opportunity for individuals to get themselves back on track.

“What I mean by that is, ‘Come in with $100, give us a new address where you’re at, let the ladies set you up with a new court date and let’s get reestablished with this. Let’s avoid jailtime.’ That’s the ultimate goal with that.”

Bryan added that amnesty weeks will be held Feb. 5-9, May 7-11 and Sept. 4-7.

The water department will be spending the next 12 months connecting additional neighborhoods to the city’s new water system.

“South Desloge Drive, South Grant and East Chestnut will be the neighborhoods that we’re going to focus on in 2018,” Bryan said.

The public works department will be working on upgrades in Brightwell Park.

“That will include new curbing and some sprucing up of the park itself,” Bryan said. “So, people will see some gradual upgrades to that area. In City Park we have to do some maintenance to some of the playground equipment. Also in City Park, the roadway that goes behind the pool is going to be widened to make it a two-way instead of a one-way road. Parking will also be addressed in that part of the park.

Bryan added that upgrades will be made to the electrical system in City Park to better meet the needs of vendors who take part in the Desloge Labor Day Picnic.

“As the picnic grows, vendors’ technology and vendors’ equipment is more taxing on the system, so we need to improve that,” he said.

The Desloge Drive Project is another “huge” improvement Bryan hopes the city will be able to tackle this year.

“Ideally, I’d like to be able to get this thing started in 2018,” he said. “I don’t know if we need to phase this thing or if we could do the entire stretch this year. We’ve secured all the right of ways effective as of this morning, so we’re good to go on that aspect.

“Then we’ll be working with the engineers to get their final plans approved through the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). I’m going to be meeting with the engineer [Friday] to discuss lighting and things like that.

“I’d love to have it out for bid for contractors to bid on that project. The worst case scenario — if things aren’t progressing like they should — is that it may have to be pushed off until 2019, but I’d really like to get this in this year if we can.”

Bryan remains optimistic about attracting new businesses and facilitating its continued growth in 2018.

“A lot of times what residents are interested in is, ‘What are you doing to bring in new business?’,” he said. “We had a couple of new businesses open at the end of 2017 and I want to continue that into 2018. Here real soon we should see some new growth along Desloge Drive. There’s going to be another project around the new El Tapatio.”

Other items on Desloge’s 2018 “to do list” includes upgrading fees and permits to better match up with those of other cities in the surrounding area; continuing to update city vehicles; seeking new grants for new air packs and a tanker truck for the fire department; new technology for the police department; and improvements to the city’s animal control.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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