Parkville hires public works director, considers logos for signage

A long night for the Parkville Board of Aldermen ended last week with the hire of a new director of public works during an executive session following its regular meeting.

The Nov. 18 meeting started an hour and one-half early with the board’s last work session on the city’s 2015 budget, as reported in last week’s Citizen. In addition to the hire of a new department head, the board also approved convenience fee adjustments for credit card payments and narrowed down the proposed designs for a logo for the city’s Fewson Fund to potentially be used on signage.

Following a national recruitment effort after the resignation of former public works director Kirk Rome, Alysen Abel was chosen from more than 20 applicants after completing an interview and assessment process with city staff and volunteer technical experts from other public works organizations.

The public works director has oversight for the streets division, parks division, Parkville sewer utility and the Parkville nature sanctuaries. Abel begins work Dec. 8.

“I am delighted to be a part of this world class city and amazing municipal team,” Abel said. “I look forward to our journey together.”

Abel currently serves as a senior civil engineer for the City of Overland Park, Kan. She brings six years of local government project management experience and nine years of private sector engineering experience to the City of Parkville. She is a native of Loogootee, Ind. and completed a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Evansville (Ind.) and a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Kansas. She is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas. She is a licensed engineer in both Missouri and Kansas.

“Alysen has an impressive background of relevant experience and comes highly recommended from current and past employers,” said Parkville city administrator Lauren Palmer.

The board also looked at a few options for a design element on a public works project set to begin next spring.

The Highway 9 downtown entryway project will bring sidewalks, street lighting, landscaping and signage to the area of the White Alloe Creek bridge. This project is funded through various grants, matching city funding and through the city’s Fewson Fund — made up of funds endowed by resident George Fewson to fund city projects.

Although the Fewson Fund was created after his death in 1998, the Highway 9 improvement project will be the first city project to leverage its monies, and as such, the city wanted an avenue to recognize the fund contribution.

The monument sign will allow for a cast stone medallion to recognize the Fewson Fund, and the board decided to take the opportunity to seek a professionally designed logo to grace this and all future Fewson projects. At the request of alderman Greg Plumb, graphic design program chair Jeff Smith of Park University has donated his services to design a logo.

Smith presented six designs, featuring two variations of a similar design based upon both the Missouri state bird — the eastern bluebird — and Native American pottery shards on display in Parkville city hall. Smith said the color pallet is based upon the newly-adopted city logo, which features wavy blue lines representative of the Missouri River.

The bluebird-based designs proved most popular with board members, as well as a more traditional-looking “F” over a shield, which aldermen said looked like a family crest.

Still of concern among aldermen was the possibility a shield-shaped sign emblazoned with an “F” could be confused with a highway sign for nearby state Highway FF. Smith said he will further refine designs for future consideration.

Also at the meeting, the board approved an adjustment to convenience fees charged for processing credit card payments. In May, the board approved a contract with TSYS Merchant Solutions to provide card processing services.

After five months, Palmer said city staff needed to make some adjustments. A $20 fee for payments between $200-2,000 had met with complaints from the public. Specifically, most event reservations and liquor licenses fall between $2-400, and Palmer suggested the fee for those purchases be adjusted to $10 to encourage patrons to pay by credit card.

Also, a maximum credit card payment of $2,000 was limiting to some developers who wished to pay for permits with plastic. To allow for larger transactions, the board approved an adjustment that will allow the city to accept credit card payments of up to $10,000 with a $250 convenience fee.