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City council approves conservation easement along Jordan Creek

The broader Renew Jordan Creek project covers three sites downtown.
City of Springfield
The broader Renew Jordan Creek project covers three sites downtown.

Last Monday's vote was the latest development in the ongoing Renew Jordan Creek project.

The unanimous vote granted rights to about 2.3 acres of stream channel and riparian zone (the area between the land and a river or stream) to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The easement is a requirement of the $400,000 grant the city accepted from DNR earlier this month for the creation of a naturalized stream channel.

Preconstruction activity on the project is set to start this week, according to the City of Springfield Public Information Department. Contractors will saw-cut the pavement in the parking lots south of Brick City in preparation for required archeological trenching assessments. The actual excavation will start next week and is expected to wrap up mid-June. The city doesn’t anticipate any road closures or traffic impacts during that process. Bidding for the project will happen later this summer, and construction is slated to begin in August.

The first phase of the Renew Jordan Creek project, approved back in 2021, aims to “daylight” a portion of Jordan Creek between Main and Boonville Avenues. The waterway was enclosed underground in the 1930s in an attempt to control floods, but in recent decades it’s actually made flooding worse downtown. Now, the city is not only trying to uncover the creek as a flood control measure, but it also wants to turn the area around the daylighted creek into an amenity for Springfield residents. Phases two and three will focus on improving the area around Founders Park and 404 N. Jefferson Avenue, respectively.

Negotiations between the city and Sterling Mathis, who owns Hotel of Terror — which sits within the Phase 1 project site — are ongoing. Back in January, Springfield Planning & Zoning changed the designation of Dungeons of Doom, the owner’s other haunted house, from Heavy Manufacturing to Center City to make it easier to move locations if the Hotel of Terror is sold to the city (the Heavy Manufacturing designation requires significantly more parking spaces). The city has deferred those parts of the project dependent on the sale of the property to later phases to keep the timeline on track, according to the News-Leader last summer.