To the citizens of Sikeston:
We want to take this opportunity to summarize the Redevelopment Plan and Project; submitted by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority and adopted by the Sikeston City Council dated Nov. 19, 2003. The LCRA was approved by a vote of the citizens of Sikeston in April 2001 by a near 80 percent majority. Though progress has been slow, the LCRA has made significant strides in the past year and has even more aggressive plans for the future.
During the past year, 20 individual structures that were condemned and vacant have been demolished and the lots have been prepared for future development. This is just a small step in the right direction. Much more needs to be done and, in our opinion must be done, so that our community grows and prospers into the 21st century.
The Redevelopment Plan consists of four elements: 1) Acquisition of property and demolition of dilapidated and deteriorated structures; 2) Consolidation of property and disposal of property; 3) Low interest loan or grant program; 4) Construction of needed public infrastructure and facilities.
In order to implement the plan, the LCRA is prioritizing these areas. The first priority is the demolition of dilapidated structures that are prevalent throughout our target area. The plan has identified over 300 properties that currently meet this criteria. These properties and the land on which they are located will be acquired through condemnation. The law requires that fair value be paid for the properties.
The second priority is redevelopment within the targeted area, including replating certain blocks so that they are more attractive to single family owner occupied housing. In order to accomplish this, a large enough area must be acquired to make it attractive to developers, and infrastructure improvement may be needed in order to accomplish our goal.
The third priority is neighborhood preservation. This will consist of purchasing properties that are subject to deterioration, and either demolishing these properties or helping aid rehabilitation of these properties. It is imperative that property values increase or remain stable in these areas.
In order to accomplish our goals, it will take money. The LCRA has approved a budget of $800,000 for a three-year period. The city has proposed funding the LCRA $500,000 if the current tax initiative is approved by Sikeston voters. The balance of the budget will be derived from Community Block Grants and other agencies that have supported us in the past, these being the Sikeston Housing Authority and the Board of Municipal Utilities. These agencies have supported the LCRA from the beginning and we continue to count on their financial support in the future.
Our approved budget is for a three-year period. During the initial phase the LCRA will be acquiring through condemnation derelict properties and demolishing these structures.
It is our intent to be able to sell the real estate that is acquired to developers for owner-occupied housing and commercial development. There are no wages or salaries other than legal counsel in the budget, only the cost to accomplish our goals. The money used by the LCRA is an investment in our community to halt the deterioration and decay that is rampant within our community. By improving property values and encouraging development, the investment in the LCRA will pay dividends for years to come.
Money alone will not be sufficient to accomplish these goals. As outlined in the Redevelopment Plan, the city must undertake an aggressive code enforcement program to cite the tenants and owners of dilapidated and deteriorating structures, properties with overgrown weeds, removal of abandoned vehicles and to ensure compliance with occupancy permit and building code requirements. It will also need to undertake an aggressive demolition lien program for properties that do not comply with code enforcement citations. The city code enforcement officers have met with the LCRA on several different occasions and will continue to meet with the LCRA in the future.
The commissioners of the LCRA work and own businesses in Sikeston. They have children and grandchildren attending our public schools. Their only interest in serving is to improve the community in which we live.
As citizens of Sikeston, we are all in the same boat heading the same direction. The time has come to change direction. With your help and support for the current tax initiative, this will be accomplished. Sikeston has been, and is, a great place to live and raise a family. Together let's make Sikeston a city that our children and grandchildren will be proud to call home!
Michael L. Bohannon