Sparta, Mo., leaders looking to transform former bank building to revitalize its downtown area

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 9:42 PM CST
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SPARTA, Mo. (KY3) - Sparta city leaders recently spent tens of thousands of dollars on a vacant building, hoping to revitalize its downtown area.

Dozens of people attended a town hall meeting Tuesday night not just to look at the former bank building on Main street but to speak their minds about how the city spent some of the funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity of having this space right here off our main highway through town,” said Mayor Jenni Davis.

The total cost of the building was $245,000.

“We have these funds from a federal level. We have funds locally. We’re going to be able to do much more with it. This was a great opportunity for Sparta,” said Economic Development Director for Sho-Me Christian County, Anna Evans.

But people like Joyce Kitka say they have concerns about the use of government funds.

“Suddenly, $245,000 later, we have a building,” she said.

The meeting was intended to drum up ideas about how the building should be used. Instead, many voiced their concerns.

“Who’s going to pay the utility bill? Who’s going to pay the insurance bill? Who’s going to do the maintenance of it? I hear now that it’s going to become office spaces. We’ve had office spaces in this town that have been empty for months,” said Kitka.

She and many others believe the money should have gone towards improving the town’s roads, sidewalks, and stormwater system.

“I don’t want to be a downer. I don’t want to act like I’m not concerned about growth, but I am really concerned about the money,” said Kitka.

Officials say the purchase could lead to bigger and better things.

“What I, from the economic development perspective, am excited about, for Sparta and for this building, is the fact that, in general, in a community this size, investment into yourself spurs additional investment from public and private sectors,” said Evans.

Davis said, “Come out and get involved. Educate yourselves. Stick in there with us because I promise in the

end it will be worth it.”

It’s unclear when a final decision on how to use this space will be made. There’s an online survey available for people to weigh in.

The city plans to host a winter event inside the building for the community next month.

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