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story.lead_photo.caption Demolition of the Finke Home and Latham Sanitarium began the morning of July 8, 2019. Photo by Liz Morales / California Democrat.

California Progress, Inc. (CPI) has entered into a contract to purchase the former Latham Sanitarium property at a $95,000 purchase price.

CPI put down a $10,000 deposit when agreeing to the contract as a show of commitment and now seeks to raise $85,000 in donations to cover the remainder of the purchase price by mid-December.

On Oct. 22, CPI held an informational meeting regarding the property, where CPI President Sara Holtsclaw announced, to a crowd of 40 people, that CPI had entered into the contract with the current property owners. Possible uses of the property and ways to raise the remaining $85,000 by the December deadline were also discussed at this meeting.

A fundraising committee was appointed and met the next week on the evening of Oct. 28. A list of 145 previous CPI donors and members was dispersed among the committee members. Each of those on the list will be contacted and given an opportunity to ask questions, give comments and suggestions and give a donation or pledge toward the purchase of the property.

According to CPI, the consensus of opinions offered at the Oct. 22 meeting suggests the property would be a good green space, veterans memorial and a playground. The final decision was tabled pending the property being officially purchased.

Holtsclaw said with the purchase agreement now being under contract, it's important for possible donors to know exactly how much money needs to be raised for the project — the impetus for the late October informational meeting and CPI's current strategy. CPI is currently relying on word-of-mouth to inform the community about the short fundraising turnaround.

With this in mind, CPI created a "Latham Park Project" Facebook group to help spread the word. The page includes a mockup of a potential layout for the space, from a playground in the space off High Street directly across from the Moniteau County Sheriff's Department to the aforementioned veterans memorial in the corner of the property where Oak and South Streets meet, along with elements like a pavilion and parking space.

The page also includes a general description of the project and CPI's goals for the space, along with a pledge card and information about CPI's tiered donation offerings. For $1,000-$4,999, donaters can purchase an engraved brick; for $5,000-$9,999, donaters can purchase a brass plaque; for $10,000-$24,999, donaters can purchase a granite plaque; and $25,000 or more grants naming rights for the space. Beyond these incentives, Holtsclaw said any dollar amount one can contribute helps to move CPI closer to its goal.

Despite the slim window, Holtsclaw said it's a project that can have a net positive effect in the city.

"With any CPI project, you get a better community and a better environment," Holtsclaw said.

Holtsclaw said CPI noticed more people moving into the downtown area, lending some credence to the idea the space at the Latham lot can be used to a public benefit for those who live nearby. She said although California isn't a large city, people in communities of any size are still concerned with the convenience of having something like a green space closer to where they live, rather than across town.

Holtsclaw said CPI wants to make the downtown area a better place to visit and enjoy, and more of a destination for people to have in mind when they think about the resources available to California's community.

Some of CPI's past successes include the Moniteau County Library, Moniteau County Historical Society and Finke Theatre buildings. Smith-Burke and Railroad Parks are two of CPI's additional projects. Most recently, CPI has installed wayfaring signs and the murals being painted on the exterior walls of some of the buildings in town, including the newest one on the Historical Society's building and the next addition set to be created on the side of California Lanes.

If you would like to be a part of this community opportunity, contact the CPI office at 573-796-4071 or office@californiaprogressinc.org.

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