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Waynesville water outage caused by construction work
Waynesville water outage caused by construction work

Construction workers remove debris from the Mitchell Block in downtown Waynesville in a project that accidentally damaged water lines Wednesday night.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (Jan. 23, 2009) — Demolition began Tuesday on numerous older buildings in downtown Waynesville, and city leaders hope to approve plans for major improvements in the near future.

However, the project hit a hiccup Wednesday evening as the heavy equipment operators broke a downtown water line that cut off water service to most downtown homes and businesses.

City Administrator Bruce Harrill said about 50 homes and 20 to 30 businesses lost their water on Wednesday.

“A lot of the downtown area was out of water east of the bridge and north of (Highway) 17,” Harrill said. “There are some residential customers who were out of water but not many compared to the whole city.”

City utility crews were called out about 5:30 p.m. and water service was fully restored by 9:30 p.m., Harrill said. While the county jail lost its water service, most other downtown commercial customers were closed by the time of the outage.

“I think it was just due to the construction at the site with heavy equipment,” Harrill said.

The demolition project is being conducted by members of the Mitchell family, a longtime Waynesville family whose heirs have moved out of the area but wanted to invest in revitalization of the community. Some family members, including Baltimore resident Jennifer Hubley, have extensive experience in real estate development.

What’s commonly known as the “Mitchell Block” included a group of buildings on Historic Route 66 running from the former site of Paradise Deli east through a number of buildings including a vacant storefront building that at one point contained a barber shop and a satellite television store.

All will be demolished and replaced, Harrill said.

“They have taken a lot of buildings down,” Harrill said. “They have demoed a lot of buildings and have talked over several tentative plans with us, but to our knowledge, they have not yet selected what plan they will go with.”

Councilwoman Luge Hardman, who chairs the Waynesville Economic Development Committee, said she’s glad to see plans being promoted to improve the looks and marketability of downtown Waynesville.

Hardman said about $1.5 million has been invested since 2006 in downtown Waynesville by private business owners as well as improvements being made by the city and county to their downtown property and infrastructure.

That $1.5 million investment includes two new downtown buildings being constructed and extensive improvements to a number of other buildings, Harrill said.

“The city council and the downtown community are very interested in what is going on in downtown Waynesville; we are very excited about the Mitchell family coming back and investing in their hometown,” Hardman said. “I’ve probably talked to every one of the downtown people about what is going on and there is a lot of excitement about things.”

While water and power outages have been a problem in Waynesville’s older areas, Harrill said city staff members are working to make infrastructure upgrades and the problems are being addressed.

“Anytime you renovate and start tearing down buildings, things like this happen. It’s just one of those things we had to take care of when it happens,” Harrill said.

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