Capital improvement meeting defines city's coming projects

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The informal study session was the first step toward approving proposed programs.

The annual Capital Improvement Program for Cape Girardeau is equal parts budget allocation and wish list. City staff, the council and the mayor met Monday to hash out some of the details behind the projects city officials say must get done, the projects they can get done and the projects they're still holding out hope will get done somewhere down the road.

The informal study session was the first step toward approving proposed programs for fiscal years 2006 through 2011. A public hearing on the program will be held March 21. The city council must adopt the proposal by April 1.

The majority of the big-ticket items are still in the idea phase. Projects like the proposed $5.3 million addition to police headquarters, a $5.2 million water park at Osage Park, and a $14.4 million addition to the water plant to serve the expanding community along Nash Road and Prestwick Plantation have not yet been funded and are pushed back to fiscal year 2010-2011.

Those present said things had improved markedly from the days of belt-tightening several years ago when it was tough to find the funds for even improvements. "It used to be we would do this where we have a plan and all these ideas but no money to fund any of it," said Councilman Matt Hopkins. "It's nice to see we're going in the right direction."

Mayor Jay Knudtson wanted to make sure that money from the motor fuel tax finds its way to the most essential road improvements

"I don't think anybody 18 months ago could fathom that we would have occurring what we have occurring to our north," he said, referring to the planned Interstate 55 interchange that could include a boom of housing and retail developments. "It's phenomenal as far as what its implications to our city could be."

Knudtson thinks these developments make it imperative to appropriate funds for a proposed $3.9 million, 2.71 mile arterial access road connecting the interchange with Center Junction. The proposed road will be named Technical Park Drive.

"You could have an announcement at Center Junction one day and another major announcement at the interchange the next day," said Knudtson, referring to developments at what he's calling a "hot corner" of commercial growth. "Then a route into our city becomes imperative for us because as of right now these folks can't get in here."

Council members agreed that the current access route via Route W and Lexington is inadequate.

Officials also discussed bringing a barge to the downtown riverfront for dining and/or entertainment.

City planner Kent Bratton said the city is still looking at ways to extend the riverwalk north to access the new Red Star Landing site.

335-6611, extension 245

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