Missouri Municipal League announces 2023 MML Innovation Award Winners

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Municipal League is proud to announce the winners of the 2023 MML Innovation Awards! These awards honor outstanding projects happening in communities across Missouri that enhance the quality of life for Missouri cities.


The projects illustrate the creativity of Missouri’s local officials and municipal employees as they serve their communities and keep Missouri cities vibrant.


Cities across the state also celebrate Missouri Local Government Week this week (May 7-13.) It is the perfect time to highlight the MML Innovation Award winners, as these projects demonstrate the dedication of those serving in local government. They also emphasize the valuable partnerships city officials develop with other cities, nonprofit organizations, businesses and citizens.


Awards are based on city population size, except for the Member Choice award, where MML members vote for their favorite project regardless of city size. This year, MML received 17 nominations from municipalities statewide, demonstrating the creativity and ingenuity within local government.


Learn more about Local Government Week at www.mocities.com and find more information regarding the MML Innovation Awards at www.mocities.com/InnovationAwards.


This year’s winners are:


City of O’Fallon (Metro City, with population more than 30,000)

O’Fallon’s Path of Heroes

The city of O’Fallon’s Path of Heroes is a 7.8-mile route through the heart of O’Fallon that honors O’Fallon residents who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. The route, which passes several city landmarks including the City’s nationally recognized Veterans Memorial Walk, CarShield Field, several city parks and the O’Fallon Municipal Centre, was introduced as part of O’Fallon’s annual Veterans Day ceremony. Through the program, families may apply to have one of their family members honored on memorial signs designating that segment of roadway in honor of their fallen loved ones. Each honoree will have two identical signs placed along the path, marking the end of the individual’s segment and enabling drivers to see the signs when traveling in either direction. Each sign lists the honoree’s name, rank and branch of service. There is no cost to families to participate as the City is covering all costs. Families simply complete the application on the City’s website. The City has committed to honoring up to three individuals each year. In 2022, the program launched, honoring the City’s three most recent fallen heroes: Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, Marines; Cpl. Gunnar W. Zwilling, Army; and Spc. Mark D. Blakely, Jr., Army.


City of Maryland Heights (Large City, with population 15,000 -30,000)

Maryland Heights Sustainability Center

The city of Maryland Heights recently opened the Sustainability and Interpretive Center on Creve Coeur Mill Road. This project, located next door to Pattonville High School, on a five-acre parcel, is a campus focused on urban agriculture and renewable resources. The Center is a partnership between Waste Connections and the city of Maryland Heights and will include greenhouses, offices, meeting, and classroom space for educational programs. Two Ceres Net Zero greenhouses have been constructed, one will be used exclusively by Pattonville High School students and faculty, providing a unique hands-on learning opportunity. Among several goals, the City would like this location to facilitate field trips to showcase Waste Connections’ sustainability solutions at the landfill and offer community programs for youth and adults. There are also plans being developed for a retail area where plants will be sold. Other opportunities include a community garden area, edible landscaping, permaculture garden, demonstrations of solar and wind power and much more.


City of Kearney (Medium City, with population 5,000 – 15,000)

Pickleball and Skate Park Complex

In 2017, the City entered into an agreement with the Kearney School District to convert the district’s old tennis courts into a city facility with three pickleball courts and skatepark. With pickleball growing at such an astounding rate, three courts severely limited the youth and adult league play. In addition, the old surface was settled and cracked, offered limited parking, ineffective lighting, and only portable toilets. The City soon realized they needed a new facility to better serve the community. This past year, the City developed a plan to construct a new 12-court pickleball facility with LED lighting, bleachers, permanent bathrooms, asphalt parking for 70+ vehicles, storage building, and new skatepark surface. In April 2022, voters approved a use tax, that is being used to fund the project. The original tennis courts were constructed with a grant through the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The City and school district had to go through the LWCF “Change in Sponsor” and “Declaration of Obsolescence” processes. Approval allowed the property to be acquired by the City, the old tennis courts to be demolished, and the new project to be constructed.


City of Riverside (Small City, with population under 5,000)

Reaching Riverside

Citizen participation in the process of local government across the country is on the decline. The city of Riverside understands that as they embark on a new comprehensive planning process, it is important to engage the entire community in casting a vision for the future of the City. While most of the residents live in multifamily housing, the past planning efforts have seen little participation from those residents – leading the outcomes to overly emphasize the priorities of the single-family neighborhoods. This lack of engagement also poses challenges for the City in making sure that basic services are being provided equitably and consistently across the community. The City launched the “Reaching Riverside” campaign in 2022 to actively engage all residents regarding the comprehensive planning process. The campaign involved easily customized templates for banners, flyers, mailers and social media assets sharing upcoming family-friendly events hosted by the City. Riverside partnered with neighborhood associations and multi-family management companies to reach as many residents as possible. Each event featured a DJ or live music, food, children’s activities, equipment displays and more. At these events, citizens could share input on plans for the City and engage in a meaningful way.


Member Choice Award

City of Moberly
Fennel Complex Project

Moberly acquired three adjoining dilapidated buildings that are cornerstones in the downtown dating to the 1870s. Knowing the City could not let them fall, funding was approved to try and white box them and determine an end use later. The City was only able to salvage the external walls of the North section and came up with a plan to turn it into an outdoor event center for the downtown. The building amenities included new concrete flooring in the building footprint; outdoor greenspace; custom wrought iron fencing around the facility and greenspace; off-street parking; climate-controlled year-round bathrooms with overhead cafe lighting; full hookups and sound systems for a band or DJ; and food truck power ports. Last year’s event included a farmers market, concerts, food truck events, car cruises, weddings and alumni events, with more scheduled for 2024. The other adjacent buildings have been renovated with completely new roofs, tuck pointing, and brick repair is nearly complete. New doors and windows will be installed, with further renovations planned with a Community Revitalization grant that will turn the indoor space into a year-round community center to compliment the outdoor space.


About MML
The Missouri Municipal League provides a united voice for municipalities across Missouri.  Founded in 1934, MML now serves more than 650 municipalities with training, resources and legislative advocacy for local government success. Learn more at www.mocities.com.