Letter to the Editor

Examples of downtown revivals

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

To the editor:Why compare Cape Girardeau's and Paducah, Ky.'s riverfront downtowns when you can stay in-state and get a much more accurate picture? I have lived in three Missouri River cities (Cape, Washington and St. Charles) and near two others (Hermann and Jefferson City). Cape long ago abandoned her downtown, whereas these other cities, once they realized what they were losing, fought to reclaim, revitalize and, most importantly, re-establish their riverfront heritage.

I am not speaking as an outsider here. During the 1970s when Cape's downtown was in its death throes, I owned a house on Fountain Street between Independence Street and Broadway and worked for Montgomery Ward.

I don't have a solution. If bars and antique shops are the best that downtown Cape can do, then so be it. But, and just maybe, if the city gave financial incentives to people or organizations who possess the gift of hand and mind -- sculptors and painters, smiths and potters, coopers and glassblowers -- then downtown Cape might undergo a true renaissance.

Think of Clarksville, or Bonnots Mill, or Blackwater. Check them out. Many river towns in Missouri, much smaller than Cape, have become art colonies. This is not rocket science. Nor is it the whole city, just the core -- the heart -- Louis Lorimier's Red House and a few friends.

And there, up on the hill, is a university that might just share, support and help develop your vision.

STEVEN C. PARSONS, Marble Hill, Mo.