Downtown solutions

For several months now there has been an ongoing dialogue involving downtown businesses, city and police officials and representatives of Old Town Cape, an organization devoted to the vitality of the Cape Girardeau's most historic area. The discussions have dealt with what some merchants see as a need for more of a police presence when downtown bars and clubs are the busiest, usually from about 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Not that there's any kind of crime wave downtown. Police statistics show that downtown is one of the safest areas of the city. But by having more officers in the area during peak hours, there is less likelihood that problems will develop. Most everyone agrees that this ounce of prevention would be worth a pound of cure.

One critical issue is how to pay for the extra police patrols. The city has indicated it would pay half the estimated $20,000 to $30,000 annual expense. Business owners have talked about how to raise the rest.

The important thing is that a potential problem is being dealt with before the situation gets out of hand. The ongoing discussions are a good way to examine the situation and come up with ideas for resolving it.