I was more than pleased to read the status report from the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority presented to the Sikeston City Council this week. By any measure, the LCRA's efforts to remove problem properties has been an overwhelming success. There is much less success, however, on the front of redeveloping some of these properties that have plagued our community for far too long.
The LCRA was a good idea at an important time for our community. We had fallen into a sad situation where aging and eyesore properties were becoming common place. Were these properties an isolated situation, the problem would have been substantial in itself. But the reality is that these problem properties breed a lack of pride and a deterioration for nearby properties and the cycle grows larger and larger. Without LCRA - which was overwhelmingly approved by voters here - we would not be seeing the progress we've witnessed.
But let's also face another harsh reality. Virtually every day, more properties become a problem and will need to be addressed. In short, LCRA is not a quick fix nor a temporary solution. The efforts of this community-based program are ongoing. And they will continue until the problem is resolved. I remain optimistic that that day will indeed arrive.
Now there's scuttlebutt that an opportunity may present itself that is massive in scope but also massive in potential.
I know few details other than the following:
Over the past two or three years, a questionable practice was invading Sikeston whereby an unscrupulous mortgage company was acquiring several Sikeston properties at inflated prices. If my numbers are correct, as many as 130 homes were sold to these outside "investors" with someone pocketing some money along the way. The deal gets real complicated but suffice it to say that federal authorities have been in Sikeston several times to investigate the scheme.
Regardless of the mechanics of the scheme, Sikeston may soon be in a position to make an unbelievable move forward on the issue of problem properties. I understand that a second mortgage company may make available for purchase by LCRA over 100 of these properties. Many need improvements and can be sold to prospective home buyers. Others are long past their prime and need to be removed. Over half of these homes in question are located in the LCRA-designated areas of town.
It will take money. It will take tremendous effort. And it will take some time. But the possibilities are massive for one major improvement to the problem housing in our community.
Granted, I know far less than I should on the subject because apparently this opportunity has just surfaced. But if there is a chance for LCRA to acquire these properties and make the necessary moves, we could see substantial changes in the near term and lifelong changes in the long term.
I would urge everyone to contact their city council member and support this effort to acquire these properties. The devil is in the details but the big picture is the homerun that we have needed for far too long could be just around the corner.