Mayor vows ‘strong finish’ for final five months

Days after the municipal election in April 2015, a newly elected mayor prepared for the job.

Carrie Tergin received call after call from supporters, constituents and business leaders congratulating her and asking to meet the new mayor of Jefferson City.

“They know how to reach me, and I welcome that. That’s what I’m about, that’s why I’m mayor,” Tergin told the News Tribune in 2015.

She won her first term with 41 percent of the vote, winning in every precinct but two. At one point, she said she wanted to attend every community event or meeting or “everything I possibly can.”

Tergin ran for re-election four years later; she overwhelmingly won with 84 percent of the vote. She campaigned on community revitalization and redevelopment.

In less than five months Tergin will relinquish her seat as mayor, serving the eight years allowed under the city’s charter term limits.

The office of mayor — as well as municipal judge, city prosecutor and five City Council seats — will be on the April 4, 2023, municipal ballot. The filing period for the offices is Dec. 6-27 Candidates can file for a position between 8 am-5 pm on any of those dates.

In a recent interview with the News Tribune, after a long sigh, Tergin expressed in a solemn manner: “I am going to miss it.”

She reflected on certain unforeseen calamities occurring during the past years, such as disastrous weather events and the global pandemic. She said such events presented unprecedented challenges.

“We were hit with some harder times, but I’m extremely proud of our community for coming back stronger from all those,” Tergin said.

Before her time as mayor ends, Tergin named a few goals and aspects in the community that “still need some work,” addressing the effects of the tornado as one of them, as well as completing redevelopment projects.

Many residential buildings, a substantial stock of rentals, were destroyed in an EF-3 tornado that ripped through eastern Jefferson City and downtown along Jackson Street in 2019. Tergin said plenty of people haven’t completely relocated or rebuilt homes and are still dealing with the effects.

“We still see it today,” she said. “We see empty lots or places still boarded up and in need of either rebuilding or redoing.”

Tergin said staff continues to meet regularly with agencies and tries to move forward on the city’s long-term recovery plan.

“I feel excited and enthused for these last five months, and we’re going to finish the same way we started … in a very strong way,” Tergin added.

Sealing redevelopment plans on the former ground of the Missouri State Penitentiary is another task to accomplish in the near future, Tergin said.

Originally decommissioned as a state prison in 2004, the grounds of MSP were sought by the city for redevelopment into a hotel, conference center, parking facilities as well as other multi-use facilities. The development involves partnership with the state stemming from a land conveyance that gave 32-acres to the city. The state announced it intends to build its One Health Lab on the site, valued at about $180 million. Two health associations also announced plans to construct a $20 million building at MSP.

In October, the city attorney said the developer’s agreement for a hotel and conference center was fairly close to being finalized, but the city awaits something further on the developers’ financing agreement.

“These next six months, I think, we will see in the media more details as the city and state continue to work together to strengthen the revitalization area there,” Tergin said.

She said the city has a unique opportunity to develop open space in the middle of the city to spur economic growth and that’s why the next five months will be focusing on that.

Rehabbing part of East Capitol Avenue remains a focus for her and city staff, Tergin noted. The city currently asks for investors to declare interest in any of 11 historic structures that need major rehabilitation.

The “call for interested parties” is one of many efforts to rehab historic buildings in an overlay historic district that fell into disrepair after years of neglect. Tergin said the city has the opportunity to decide the future of the historic row for the next hundred years.

“Some of it is going to be refurbished and some of it is not, so how do we keep the past and present, and move that into the future,” she said.

Several ventures over the past years Tergin said she feels to be a part of, notably, the construction of Deborah Cooper on Park Adrian’s Island that was facilitated after “years of discussion.”

For generations, many Capital City residents had long to develop more than 30 acres along the south bank of the Missouri River, stretching from just west of the state Capitol to east of the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

The property was essentially cut off from the rest of the city by Union Pacific Railroad tracks. In 1960, Harry Adrian donated the property to the Jefferson City Housing Authority, which sold it to the city in December 2019.

The quit-claim deed for the transfer not only spells out the name for the park, it also requires the city to refer to any prominent parts of the property as “Adrian,” and requires the city to construct and maintain a bronze plaque on the property commemorating the Adrian family’s gift.

Multiple efforts to develop the land fell short until 2015 when BJ DeLong, a long-time supporter of the project, donated $3 million to a project to build a bridge over the railroad tracks.

DeLong died in July 2021, about a month before crews broke ground on the 765-foot-long, 12-foot-wide $4.9 million bridge that now has her name — BJ DeLong Bicentennial Bridge. The official opening of the bridge was held in December 2021. Since then, the park has offered pedestrians access to the riverfront, trails, a pavilion, giant chess board and hammock space.

Eileen Wisniowicz/News Tribune Mayor Carrie Tergin talks with a fellow attendee of the annual Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022 at the Missouri Farm Bureau.


Eileen Wisniowicz/News Tribune Mayor Carrie Tergin talks with Sally Graham after the annual Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022 at the Missouri Farm Bureau in Jefferson City.

Source link

Sandra Torres

Sandra Torres