by Vicki Wood
The City of Laurie has set out on a path to improve and develop economically. They have enlisted the help of Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments (LOCLG) to achieve that goal. Brian Yansen, Executive Director of LOCLG, and his team have designed a City Comprehensive Plan with a series of meetings to engage the public.
The first meeting took place Thursday, June 16 at Laurie City Hall. The meeting was presented with 15 people attending. Those included business owners, city aldermen and officials, and citizens.
The plan was a seven-point presentation. The park system was mentioned more than once as a highly desirable recreation location, but also voiced was the need for a revitalization of the Laurie Hillbilly Fairgrounds/Park. Some said they would like to see the park system in Laurie expanded. Others voiced the desire to see the baseball park revitalized. The comprehensive plan identifies both parks in “poor” condition, but there are two big revenue events attached to the park: The annual Hillbilly Fair and the Laurie Enchanted Village of Lights.
Citizens mentioned as positive assets the soccer program and an array of businesses. Also mentioned were the churches, banks, and close proximity to medical care.
A lack of housing was identified as an area lacking in Laurie. The newest apartment complexes on O Road have been full for some time. Yansen said there is a 1-and-a-half year waiting list for workforce housing in Camdenton and Osage Beach as well.
Tourism related to such attractions as the Hillbilly Fair events, Mary Mother of the Church Shrine, and the Lake West Cinema were identified while reviewing a list of what the town has to offer.
Yansen said the Laurie population number of 939 is likely outdated and he said the accurate count is probably as high as eight to 10 percent more. In the summer months, Laurie sees as many as 20,000 part-time residents and tourists added to those numbers.
One thing that residents would like to see addressed is traffic flow. Yansen says average daily traffic in Laurie has increased by as much as 40 percent annually. Citizens would like to see more center turning lanes. Yansen will address these concerns with MoDOT on Laurie’s behalf. He shared that MoDOT’s number-one goal right now is opening up the Highway M, TT, and F corridor for workforce housing flow to Osage Beach.
He said workforce housing is something Laurie is “ripe for” as identified with 200 lots mapped in city limits, and 150 of those equipped with utilities ready for development.
Citizens presented a wish list of development for the city in the way of activities when asked by LOCLG representatives. Such desires mentioned were a splash or water park, batting cages, and a community center. Yansen said grants are available for a community center under Low Middle Income (LMI) grants. He advised the following steps to address before revitalization: Expand the park system, update the movie theater, clean up dilapidated properties, and upgrade infrastructure. A need for a full-time post office was also identified.
Three grants have already been applied for on The City of Laurie’s behalf through the comprehensive plan. “We aren’t waiting until the meetings are complete, because some of these grants are a perfect fit for Laurie and we have to apply for them in a time frame. Laurie qualifies for a huge chunk of grants, with two being the LMI and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG),” Yansen explained.
Yansen said the Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments (LOCLG) provides grant writing, interactions with Missouri Department of Transportation, assists developers with business loans, maps current land use, and identifies housing and economic development opportunities.
Laurie’s current plan was 30 years old. Yansen said a city plan needs to only be five to 10 years old and updated every five years. He and his team at LOCLG are working for many communities around the lake area on economic development and quality of life for citizens.
LOCLG has been in existence since 1964 and is headquartered in Camdenton. Yansen has been the executive director since 2020.