More of the same, please

Friday, December 3, 2004

As the historical murals on Cape Girardeau's downtown floodwall near completion, the vibrant colors and decorative faux arches are having a double whammy on downtown visitors.

First, of course, the new murals are grabbing well-deserved attention because of the way the artwork has been executed and because of the interesting, fun and sometimes puzzling (in a historical sort of way) content.

I don't know about you, but I've learned a heckuva lot about Cape Girardeau history since the murals started taking shape. Who knew about the parakeets?

The second whammy is the impact the new murals are having, by comparison, on the existing Wall of Fame mural farther to the south.

It is to the regret of just about everyone involved in the Wall of Fame project that the colors look faded and limited -- like trying to color a circus poster with a Crayola starter box -- and half the crayons are missing.

The Wall of Fame was -- and still is -- a great idea. But there's no need to pretend that anyone likes to look at it.

So here's a fantastic opportunity.

Given the excitement generated by the new murals and their arches, why not extend that concept and redo the Wall of Fame in the same style? The famous -- and infamous -- Missourians on the Wall of Fame could be depicted in ways that associate them with what they're famous for.

(Did I use enough prepositions in that sentence? I seem to have a few left over.)

I know that the Wall of Fame already has been the topic of considerable discussion by the city's mural commission, so that situation certainly isn't being ignored.

And I know it would take a pot of money to redo the Wall of Fame in the same style as the historical murals.

But the mural commission has a proven track record of getting things done once a decision has been made. There were plenty of skeptics around just a few years ago when the ambitious historical murals were proposed. Now the project is almost finished.

Of course it can be done. And it can be done with the same high quality as the historical murals.

Shucks, I'd be willing to delay -- again -- the groundbreaking for the World Famous Downtown Golf Course and All-You-Can-Eat Catfish Buffet project so as not to interfere with the Wall of Fame upgrade. And I think all the golfers who have signed up would be right there with me.

A couple of things about the meeting this week between downtown merchants and the mayor caught my attention, and I think they are worthy of special note.

Both the merchants and the mayor are to be commended for trying to sort out downtown traffic patterns before the city council takes a vote.

But retailers who say it's a stretch to come up with a consensus in the next month are right. This next month is the busiest time of the year for most businesses. Besides, there's no urgent reason to change traffic flows on Main Street and Water Street. A well-thought-out plan will be far better than a quick decision.

And Mayor Jay Knudtson is right to push retailers for a consensus that can be presented to the council. Without the cooperation of downtown businesses, any decision made by the council could do more to hurt the area than improve it.

The discussions so far have been good -- and informative. Every piece of information that comes out of these talks is useful to making the best decision. Keep it up.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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