Marcie Gragg had a surprising and welcome guest Monday for her final meeting with the Independence City Council.
Gragg, the District 1 representative since 2006 when she won a special election to replace elected mayor Don Reimal, chose not to run for a third full term this year. New Council Member John Perkins, who had represented District 2 1996-2004 and defeated Jeremy Povenmire in the April 5 election, was installed Monday along with re-elected district Council Members Curt Dougherty, Scott Roberson and Tom Van Camp.
One of the final ordinances Gragg voted on before the installation ceremony was approval of the 2016-17 annual action plan for the CDBG and HOME programs. Part of the CDBG funds will complete financing for the inclusive playground for special needs children at McCoy Park.
Natalie Blakemore, founder and executive director of St. Charles-based Unlimited Play, which helped the city's project for the playground, attended Monday's meeting and offered her thanks to the city.
“Now you'll see a large boom in inclusive playgrounds,” she said. “There are lots of communities that would love to do what you're doing.”
Gragg, who spend eight years on the city's Planning Commission before joining the City Council, listed the McCoy Park project of the last two years as one of her favorite city projects during her time on the council, due in part to one of her own sons, who is now a young adult.
“I wish we'd had a park like that for Josh to play in,” she said.
Gragg also listed the Ennovation Center and Independence School District Central Office filling in the former Independence Regional Health Center building, the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena construction with hockey and soccer teams as tenants, the Little Blue Parkway completion, the employee health clinic and non-profits-led housing redevelopments as projects that helped her district neighborhoods and the city as a whole.
“We began to see some opportunities to turn around things in western Independence where it seemed hopeless,” she said. “We as a community have accomplished these things.”
Perkins started the council member thank-you's, noting that he empathizes with how civic service diverts time from family.
“Thank you for your service,” he said, also thanking citizens and his family for the opportunity to be a council member again. “I see a lot of great progress and great opportunity ahead (for the city).”
“We didn't always see eye-to-eye,” Dougherty said, “but I never questioned your sincerity.”
“I look forward to continuing to work with you,” Whiting said, referring to Gragg's leadership of 12 Blocks West, one of the neighborhood rehab nonprofit groups. “I have a feeling we'll still see you here.”
Weir thanked Gragg for her career of civic service, and City Manager John Pinch thanked her for supporting the city staff.
“I'll always remember the debates and discussions we had,” he said.
“Marcie has done so much for so long for so many,” DeLuccie said. “Thank you so much.”