The Boonville City Council is set to discuss renovating and redeveloping the campus of the former Kemper Military School Tuesday.
The school, which was founded in 1844, closed in 2002. It has been the property of the city of Boonville since 2003. Currently the campus houses a YMCA, playing fields for youth sports programs and a branch campus of State Fair Community College, which is located in Sedalia.
The city council wants to redevelop the campus with two goals in mind, recreation and education, with a focus on education training. Along with expanding the YMCA and State Fair Community College programs, city council member Becky Ehlers says that the city is also looking into creating a law enforcement training center and a IT certification program on the Kemper Campus.
However, Ehlers says that the redevelopment is going to cost millions of dollars and finding the money is tough to do right now.
“The biggest challenge we have before us is the same challenge everyone has right now, and that’s the economy and coming up with the funding and the dollars to move forward and to do some of the things that we feel need to be done,” Ehlers said.
Ehlers also says community members are looking for grants and possible investors to help lower the cost of the project.
One of the buildings on campus that has drawn the most controversy recently is the administration building. At a recent city council meeting, members of the Kemper Alumni Association said that they wanted to raise funds to help keep the building from being destroyed.
Current Alumni Association President Douglas Humpherey says that the association has set up a trust fund for the purpose of raising funds for the building and plans to come to Boonville next week to talk to the mayor. Humpherey says the Alumni Association wants to create a Kemper Military School museum in the administration building.
City council member Mike Kelley says that currently the building is considered dangerous and hazardous. However, if certain conditions are met, he believes that no one will oppose the building being renovated.
“If that money is made available by an outside organization, then we most certainly would be happy to see that building become part of the long-term plan of Kemper development,” Kelley said.
Although discussions on the project are underway, there is no date set yet for when the redevelopment of the campus will be put to a vote.