Hannibal continues success with riverboat traffic, extends contract with American Cruise Lines

hannibal riverboat

America Cruise Lines reported that in the last five years, they have made 113 stops in Hannibal during which nearly 24,000 guests and crew members spent $3,600,000 around town. — Photo from the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau.

HANNIBAL, MO. — Hannibal’s riverfront continues to be a thriving port for popular riverboat cruises. 

At the meeting on Tuesday night, Hannibal City Council unanimously approved a contract for a five-year extension with American Cruise Lines. It was up for renewal in November 2024, but the cruise line asked for an early renewal.

In a letter attached to the Hannibal City Council agenda, The American Cruise Lines company reported Hannibal to be one of their premier ports, and a favorite and memorable stop for their passengers.

Along with the many things Hannibal has to offer, the company credited the success of their Hannibal stops to “the support, enthusiasm, hard work, and cooperation of the city coming together to make it happen.”

“From the Mayor and City Council, City Manager, staff, the Chamber, Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, all the venues our guests visit, to Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher, everyone plays their important role.”

American Cruise Lines docked seven different riverboats in Hannibal including two Paddlerwheelers and five new American Riverboats.

The company also reported that in the last five years, they have made 113 stops in Hannibal during which nearly 24,000 guests and crew members spent $3,600,000 around town.

Also in the last five years, American Cruise Lines expanded eight new riverboats and increased their fleet of ships to 19 riverboats.

The first lease between Hannibal and American Cruise Lines was first signed in 2019 and included five consecutive options to extend for five years—this is the first extension. The lease offers periodic exclusive use of the riverfront’s north dock. 

The rent will be $1 per visit per passenger on board the boats, which will increase by 15% every five years until it reaches a maximum of $2 per visit per passenger. 

In 2019, American Cruise Lines paid a one-time fee of $25,000; they will pay a $10,000 fee upon each lease renewal.

The five-year lease includes five consecutive options that extend for five years each. 

The council also looked at unoccupied, abandoned and derelict properties in Hannibal’s downtown area during a presentation by local property owners Bob Yapp and Andrew Wickstrom. 

Yapp and Wickstrom have also been involved in restoring old Hannibal properties.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Yapp and Wickstrom showed many of the Hannibal properties that have been restored. Some of those properties included the Rialto at 603 Broadway and The Quarry House at 511 Birch.

“Tonight, we’re here to celebrate the positive work that’s been done downtown in the central neighborhoods, as well as addressing the challenge that is slowing that process,” Yapp said.

Wickstrom and Yapp estimated in their presentation that demolition of properties due to neglect in the last 20 years has cost Hannibal taxpayers between $3 million and $8 million. 

They also estimated that in the last 20 years more than $20 million has been invested in local rehabilitated properties, and paid for without taxpayer dollars.

They spotlighted certain abandoned properties around the downtown area that need to be restored or demolished. Some of the homes had the same private owner, and one of the buildings they named was the old Federal Building at 601 Broadway, which is owned by the city.

Yapp and Wickstrom said they don’t necessarily have an answer but they wanted to start the conversation. The pair hoped to see a committee start working on the situation.

Hannibal Mayor Barry Louderman said the concerns were ones he brought up during his campaign that he planned to address. Louderman suggested Yapp and Wickstrom lead a citizen committee who will recommend a plan for property restoration or demolition.

Louderman agreed some properties might need to come down.

“Just because something is old doesn’t make it historic. Sometimes they are just old,” he said. “If a house is not savable, it needs to be taken down.”

Another committee-driven initiative was Hannibal’s Storm Water Action Committee (SWAC), and their ballot initiative, Proposition S, for the April ballot had a first reading.

The tax would be a flat fee per parcel of land, with the amount of the fee based on the electric meter size and usage for commercial, residential and industrial properties.

The proposed flat fee for residential electric meters would be:

  • $12 to $20 per month for properties with residential electric meters. 
  • $110 to $230 per month for properties with commercial electric meters.
  • $420 to $570 per month for properties with industrial electric meters.
  • $8 per month for non-metered properties.

Nonprofits would not be taxed, eliminating charges to entities such as schools and churches.

The amount due would be determined by average annual monthly kilowatt hour usage. 

If passed, electric usage would not be recorded until after July 2024, and taxes wouldn’t begin until 2025. The first payment would be due in January 2026.

The council members will cast their votes at the next Hannibal City Council meeting on Dec. 19 to decide if Proposition S will see the ballot in April.

In other business:

Appointments:

  • Steve Viorel was appointed to the Park Board for a term to expire in July 2024.
  • Cole Painter was appointed to Planning and Zoning for a term to expire in June 2027.
  • Hunter Haynes was appointment to the Board of Adjustment for a term to expire May 2028.

First readings:

Bill no. 23-034 an ordinance of the City of Hannibal calling for a municipal election to be held April 24 to allow Hannibal voters to decide on if they will implement a fee for the maintaining and improving the city’s underground storm water conveyance system (Proposition S)

Bills approved

Bill 23-035 approved unanimously to authorizing mayor to execute a program agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for the Transportation Alternative (TAP) grant relative to construction of new sidewalks and ADA improvements on Market Street from South Arch to Grand.

The City of Hannibal also approved that the city apply for a grant for treatment of water at the City of Hannibal Landfill Leachate Basin.

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