Mayor backs off Spanish Street parking plan

Rocks jut from the hill Nov. 6, 2017, in front of the Common Pleas Courthouse at the intersection of Spanish and Themis streets in downtown Cape Girardeau.
Southeast Missourian file

A proposal to cut into the Common Pleas Courthouse hillside to provide added parking on Spanish Street may not be worth the cost, Cape Girardeau Mayor Bob Fox said Wednesday.

Fox recently suggested improvements should be made to Spanish Street in conjunction with plans to renovate the courthouse as part of the new city hall project.

The city council last week approved a design-build agreement with Penzel Construction Co., in partnership with architecture firm TreanorHL, to renovate the 165-year-old Common Pleas Courthouse and the adjacent Annex and construct a connecting addition at 44 N. Lorimier St., at a cost of $12 million.

The plan includes construction of a parking structure and “redoing” the courthouse steps, which Fox said are falling apart.

A downtown strategic plan unveiled in 2017 calls for adding 48 parking spaces on the west side of Spanish Street, bordering the courthouse property. It envisions cutting into the hillside to carve out the parking spaces.

But cutting into the hillside to add angled parking may not be wise, Fox told the Southeast Missourian editorial board Wednesday.

City manager Scott Meyer agreed.

“Angled parking may not work out,” he said.

Fox said cutting into the hillside could lead to an undesirable, steeper grade for the courthouse steps.

Even if parking spaces are not added on Spanish Street, Fox said he would still like to see new streetlights and sidewalk renovations along the street.

Casino revenue could be used to pay for the improvements, he said.

If the decision is made to go ahead with downtown Spanish Street renovations, both Fox and Meyer said it is important to coordinate it with the city hall project.

“We need to merge the two plans,” Meyer said.

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