Cape police plan to crack down on street crowds

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Police plan to barricade sections of southside Cape Girardeau streets this weekend in an effort to keep away hundreds of people who have turned residential neighborhoods into a noisy, litter-filled parties with music blaring from parked cars.

Police also plan to assign more officers to patrol that area on weekends and videotape the crowd to help identify people who may be subsequently ticketed for violations such as littering and peace disturbance.

The problem is centered on the area at Sprigg and Morgan Oak, and Morgan Oak and Ellis, police chief Steve Strong told the city council on Monday night. The two areas are a block apart.

"People in the hundreds come to that area and park," Strong said. "They park. They talk. They play their stereos."

Strong said crowds congregate at 1:30 a.m. when the bars close. "When the bars close, it just looks like a parade," he said.

The police chief said he plans to barricade sections of Ellis Street and Morgan Oak to keep away the crowd. "We'll see how effective this is," Strong said.

The crowd includes Cape Girardeau residents and people from a large region of Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois, the police chief told the council.

Councilman Matt Hopkins, who rode along with police on Friday night, said the crowds trash neighboring yards. "It's just terrible what people have to clean up in their yards," he said.

Fee increases

In other business, the council gave final approval to the city's $45 million budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, and raised water, trash and municipal golf course fees that city officials said are needed to cover increased operating costs.

As a result, monthly residential utility bills will increase on average from $41.51 a month to $42.60 a month, a 2.63 percent increase, city officials said.

Council members said the water and trash fee increases aren't an effort to bypass the wishes of voters who soundly rejected tax-and-fee issues in the April election.

City officials said water and trash fees weren't on the April ballot. A fee for storm-water maintenance was on the ballot, along with three tax issues.

Doug Leslie, interim city manager, said the city under state law can raise user fees by 5 percent a year without voter approval.

Hopkins said the city council had no choice but to raise the water and trash fees to cover increased costs. "We don't just arbitrarily raise them by 5 percent every year," he said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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