Observations from Cape's parks and recreation facilities

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July is National Parks and Recreation Month. I presented a proclamation at our July 2 city council meeting declaring all of July as Parks and Recreation month in Cape Girardeau. I was joined that evening by director Julia Thompson, several members of her terrific staff, and a large number of children and youths who participate and enjoy many of the programs and events offered through the department.

Our parks are one of our community's greatest assets. Our parks, as indicated on the brochure distributed that night, enhance our quality of life, preserve our heritage, create a healthy community and provide economic impact.

Our city parks and recreation events and facilities draw over 1 million visitors each year. Many of these events support our retail, lodging and restaurant establishments.

We currently have 23 parks in our city that total over 600 acres. We also have a well-used and expanding trail system. Many adult and youth sporting activities are either managed or supported by parks and recreation. The department also manages our three city cemeteries: Old Lorimier, New Lorimier and Fairmount.

I would like to share with you two personal experiences that recently piqued my interest in the quality and importance of our park system.

First, Fran and I were privileged to attend the ceremony commemorating the 200th year of the death of Louis Lorimier on the grounds of Old Lorimier Cemetery. This was a very meaningful ceremony as Dr. Frank Nickell and Linda Nash reflected not only on the history of Lorimier but also on other important people who were very influential in developing our city.

Following the ceremony we walked the grounds observing the stones, and the names on each; we were surrounded by the many gone before us that gave us the great city of Cape Girardeau.

We walked to the lower portion of the grounds and observed a beautiful view to the east, high above the mighty Mississippi. This became a very sobering event as we participated in the past, the present and dreamed about the positive future of our city.

Second, we recently attended a municipal band concert at Capaha Park. We certainly enjoy those beautiful and entertaining evenings. This particular evening we attended a picnic in the park and then took our chairs down to the grassy area to await the concert.

I observed youths engaging in a spirited Frisbee golf match and some runners exercising behind the fences of Capaha Field. I heard the sounds of an American Legion baseball game to our left, and observed many individuals and families enjoying a walk around Capaha Pond. There were many different activities enjoyed by different people in the same beautiful park.

I would like to extend my sincere thank you to the people of Cape Girardeau for having the vision to pass our 2008 parks tax, which greatly enhanced our system. The additions of Cape Splash and the Shawnee Community Center along with major enhancements to the Osage Centre, Jaycee Golf Course, Arena Building, Central Pool, sports complexes and other facilities have brought our system to a new level.

I must recognize our great staff led by parks and recreation director Julia Thompson, along with activities directors Scott and Penny Williams, parks director Brock Davis and their fine staffs. I also must show appreciation to the dedication and work of our volunteer Parks and Recreation Board. Their leadership has been invaluable in crafting the future of our parks system.

Finally, I want to highlight that we do have a Parks Foundation. This can be used by any resident who would have the vision of a project they would like to support through funding to provide future enhancements to our system.

Please have an enjoyable summer and visit our parks and facilities.

Harry E. Rediger is the mayor of Cape Girardeau.

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