Cape City Council approves improvement projects

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Some citywide improvement projects will move ahead in Cape Girardeau with revenue from Isle Casino Cape Girardeau, while a "pay-as-we-go" strategy will be used by the city council to deal with the rest of a planned list in the coming months.

About half of the city council's initial list of projects to be funded with $2.2 million in anticipated revenue from the casino were approved unanimously by the council Monday night.

Projects include new playground equipment, equipping baseball fields in Arena Park with safety fencing, installing more emergency sirens throughout the city, lighting improvements along Main Street, sidewalk improvements from Kingshighway to Janet Drive, demolition of the old Convention and Visitors Bureau building at the corner of Main Street and Broadway for use as a parking lot and a space-design survey of the police station. The combined cost of the projects is estimated at $906,000.

City staff split the council's list of projects per request of several members after questions were raised about the actual amount of revenue the city may receive for the casino's first eight months of operation.

The council unanimously approved the first round of projects Monday, but members said they want to see different approaches to decisions on when to fund the rest of the projects.

Councilman Mark Lanzotti suggested the council take more time to evaluate the stream of revenue coming from the casino as it becomes available in the next 30 to 60 days, so as not to agree to fund projects without being sure the revenue meets projections.

Mayor Harry Rediger and Councilman Trent Summers did not attend Monday's meeting, but Councilman John Voss said the mayor has voiced his approval to funding the first round of projects, and Summers said via conference call during the study session that he approved the new plan outlined by the council.

"That puts us in a position to be able to knowingly fund projects, versus commit money that may not be there, and that may be perhaps a more comfortable place for us to be in," Voss said.

One project that did not make the first round was the replacement of a roof on Fort D, a local historic site that holds events throughout the year. Two volunteers from Fort D, Patti House and Bill Eddleman, approached the council Monday to request the project be expedited so as not to interfere with planned events, but the project remained on the second-round list for which the council will evaluate funding in the next few months.

Board of Examiners

The continued existence of the city's Board of Examiners also was an issue for the council Monday. A proposed ordinance that would eliminate the board by giving its duties to city staff was scheduled for a first reading, but the council decided to postpone a vote after hearing from opposed board members.

For the last several years, the board, which examines qualifications of applicants for licenses for plumbers, mechanical installers, master drainlayers and electricians, has kept enough members to create a voting quorum, but has had trouble drawing new participants.

The board has five of eight seats filled with two members continuing to serve beyond their three-year terms. Board members who spoke to the council asked for an opportunity to seek new applicants to fill seats.

"I don't think we've let the city down in any way, as say, not doing our job," board member George Reutzel told the council.

City manager Scott Meyer and Voss advised the board members that the city charter has changed in recent years to reflect term limits for boards. One of the vacancies on the board is because of the death of a member, who served for about 25 years. Another current member has served nearly 18 years.

"We're trying to strike a happy balance between having lots of citizens participating in our government, and some expertise," Voss said. "In this case, there has been a deficiency in the number of applicants for this board. We want to make sure we aren't letting a very small handful of our citizens control or monopolize part of our government. I don't think that's anywhere near anyone's intent who is serving or has served, but one could look in from outside and say 'Why is this same set of whoever serving?'"

The council plans to revisit the ordinance after 30 days.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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