The Hermann Board of Aldermen has chosen to postpone any further action on the merits of transferring ownership of the keelboat Muskrat to the Muskrat Society.
That decision followed a presentation Monday night by Dr. Bob Koerber, representing the society as its president, before the Hermann Board of Aldermen. Koerber's recitation of a letter he prepared and delivered on the matter, given during public comments, spawned discussion among the board and eventually led to the postponement on transfer of ownership.
Koerber provided a copy of the letter to the Advertiser-Courier. He indicated surprise that the BOA had discussed giving the Muskrat to the Society without first notifying the organization.
"I am surprised to hear this because of the great opportunity the City of Hermann has to build a nationally recognized museum and boat house around this keelboat," Koerber wrote. "There is no uncovered liability pertaining to the city's ownership of the Muskrat Keelboat. We are not expecting the City of Hermann to pay for insurance coverage on the keelboat when it is outside the city, the society pays for that ourselves."
The former mayor argued for the city to retain ownership of the keelboat, with one reason being that the boat is covered by MIRMA insurance when it is inside the city limits.
"Another is the attention and publicity the boat garners for the City of Hermann whenever it is exhibited in these high visibility, high traffic venues," said Koerber. "Additionally, some of the grants which we intend to apply for are more easily obtained if we are associated with a city or other governmental authority."
A boathouse and museum, he contended, will be another large attraction for the city's tourism program.
"Why the urgency to make this decision and why wasn't the Muskrat Society informed about it?" Koerber asked. "I can't answer those," he said, departing briefly from the text of his letter.
He asked the BOA to consider his points, noting there are no plans for the Muskrat to travel until April.
"I suggest that you postpone any decision on this matter until we have had time to discuss our plans and make suitable alternative agreements, if necessary," said Koerber, adding the Society is unprepared to enter into any agreements for now.
Alderman David Faerber said the Muskrat "keeps expanding" and that he isn't sure what the city would be responsible for. Mayor Bruce Cox said that once the city is involved in a grants process, it would then be hard to cut ties to the Muskrat.
"It may not be so easy to relinquish our involvement," Cox said, noting also that he has concerns over the insurance coverage. City Administrator Tricia Heaney said she is concerned over potentially higher insurance fees for the city.
"I don't want you to foot the bill for anything," Koerber countered.
The matter is due to next be reviewed by the BOA at its Monday, Jan. 24, regular meeting.
Also Monday night:
* The board approved an ordinance reclassifying lots owned by VFW Post 4182 at 108 State Highway 100 West from single family residential to agricultural and general commercial.
* Members okayed an ordinance to approve an agreement between the city and Simpleview to provide lodging referral technology for the City of Hermann's website.
* The board listened to Cox and fellow members express their thoughts on what should be included in a proposal to enact a food trucks ordinance for Hermann. City Attorney David Politte will work on crafting a draft ordinance for the board's review once the new year commences.
* Public Works Director Jesse Geltz received approval for expenses related to the repair of a piece of heavy equipment known as a crawler. Geltz said the unit is utilized in road projects and for such tasks as pushing sand at the riverfront. Cost estimates for the repairs are under $10,000.
* An ordinance was approved that secured a contract between the city and Lamar Companies for an outdoor advertising billboard along Interstate 70, a tenth of a mile east of Missouri Highway 19 in New Florence, to promote tourism.
* A large number of Jan. 1, 2022 liquor license renewals, for businesses scattered across Hermann, were approved.
* A full liquor license with Sunday sales for Founders District Company, doing business as Alpenhorn Kitchen and Bier Garten, was approved, effective Jan. 1.
* An outdoor seating permit renewal for Doxie Slush was approved.
* A special event application was approved for a Santa Rides the Rails event, set for Wednesday, Dec. 22, at the Amtrak station.
* A special event application was also approved for Go! St. Louis, a race that will feature finish line activities at the amphitheater on June 11, 2022.