MERRIAM WOODS, Mo. – The people of Merriam Woods will vote on a ballot initiative next week that would change their community from a village to a city.
Community leaders say the proposal would help secure future funding and change public perception, but resident, Wesley Fox, says it could also address another problem.
“We really need to make it a city,” he says, “just for the simple fact of all the roads in this area are pretty bad.”
The concern of Fox –the same as dozens of other residents – is something village chairperson, Pam Albright, says she has heard time and again.
“The funding is not there,” Albright says, “and we can’t get it because we’re just a village. As a city, grants will open up to us, loans will open up to us.”
But Albright says that’s not the only reason she’s backing the April fifth ballot issue.
“I’ve watched Merriam Woods go from a little retirement village, into families moving out here, into the drug situation that we had,” she says. “Now cleaning all of that up and becoming a better place to live.”
“It’s not going to be a quick fix thing,” says Merriam Woods Police Chief, Mark Trog, “it will progress down the road.”
Trog says the community has also opened up a dog pound, to reduce strays, worked to get the village in the black financially and is currently talking with businesses about development.
He says becoming a city is the next step forward.
“More opportunity for business,” he says, “hopefully a little more tax money.”
“When you say, ‘a village’, they just automatically think you’re a downgrade from a city or even a township,” Trog says.
Trog says the biggest push back to the initiative has been from residents who are concerned new taxes will come with a new city.
However, Albright says that too would be in the hands of voters.
“They have a voice in what’s going to happen,” she says.
“There’s that very few that don’t want the change,” says Fox, “but a lot of us do want the change.”
The village is holding an outdoor community meeting Saturday, to explain to residents what becoming a city would mean for the area.
The meeting starts around noon at the village office.