We live in a beautiful city, punctuated by the Mississippi River, trees, rolling hills, temperate climate with beautiful spring and fall seasons. We have a unique asset with the many thousands of trees throughout our community.
Our council and staff have had a very busy year with gaming, waste water, several citizen voting issues, revising zoning and development codes, commercial and industrial development issues, etc., etc.
I have, as mayor, been very remiss in not keeping our city beautification programs identified and promoted on a continuing basis. I have always believed in and supported strong beautification programs, both commercial and residential. These programs need to be supported by a coordinated effort of our municipal government.
A list of some current programs and support groups that are on going include the Chamber Beautification Committee with its Yard of the Month program, the Women's Garden Clubs, and numerous individuals/groups that have adopted streets for litter pick-up.
We have a beautiful parks system professionally maintained and landscaped by our city parks division. We have three garden clubs in our city who do exemplary work in assisting our parks department by planting, weeding, and maintaining such areas as the Rose Garden, Liberty Star, the Red House and other areas.
The majority of homeowners within Cape Girardeau do a great job in landscaping and enhancing the beauty of their property. The same can be said for landlord and commercial properties around the city.
We, in city government, are on a heightened mission to identify any and all nuisance properties and enforce our current ordinances to bring those properties into compliance. This is a current ongoing issue and we are making some progress in this area.
This leads me to issue a challenge to several segments of our population, individual homeowners and owners of commercial property, the youth of our community to include SEMO students, and our own city government.
First, to all property owners: Assess your property and determine if it meets and/or exceeds your standards and your neighbor's standards. If you determine that it does not, make plans for improvement. Landscaping and property maintenance is relatively inexpensive in relation to total property cost and can only improve property values. If your assessment does meet your personal standards, challenge yourself to identify enhanced visual opportunities.
Second, to the youth of our community: I feel, at the risk of stereotyping, that the youth of our community are responsible for a large percentage of littering that continues to occur within Cape Girardeau and is an ugly deterrent to the beauty of our city. I realize that probably a majority of youth will not read this article. My plans to reach youth concerning littering include working through our public and private schools, Southeast Missouri State University Student Government and the Southeast University newspaper to build a comprehensive anti-litter campaign.
Third, our city government challenge: I applaud our city staff for all the work they accomplish in this area in our parks, city property and city right of way. That having been said, I feel there are three areas of opportunity for improvement.
No. 1: Improved care of right of way. This is limited at times by weather issues and limited resources. However, tall grasses in our rights of way are not conducive to my suggested partnerships as mentioned previously.
No. 2: Fall leaf pick up. This is an "extra" service offered by our city. This again encounters roadblocks with conditions and limited equipment. However we need to do an improved job of planning in this area and I feel their is room for improvement.
No. 3: Monitor nuisance properties. This was addressed earlier in this article but there is definite opportunity for our city in this area.
I am asking all Cape Girardeau residents to support a continuing effort to encourage a comprehensive beautification effort. It is one of our most valuable intangible assets.
Harry E. Rediger is the mayor of the city of Cape Girardeau.