I have read your editorials for many years and actually agree with you on most of them. Your editorials on how our beloved hometown has reached a critical crossroad in its history has many of us paying attention. You even stress that all citizens must work together to revitalize our town and make it a place our children can find work and raise their families.
With this constant theme, I find it quite puzzling that you seem to enjoy trivializing our downtown and continue to bring up this Center Street traffic issue. Let me give you a quote from your Wednesday editorial, "And by strolling the health-promoting cobblestones, some of the merchants could lower their blood pressure that has risen sharply with the one-way decision." In an earlier article, you indicated that this issue was a "Solution in search of a problem."
I agree that which way Center Street runs is not a very significant issue and to how it affects our City's future. What I am disappointed in, is that the impression you are giving your many readers that this is the only serious issue being addressed by our downtown merchants and business people.
Since this winter, this group has met with five representatives from various parts of the State government, the Bootheel Regional Planning Group and members of the City Government. I personally wrote you a letter inviting you to attend the meeting that we had with the Bootheel Planning folks. I cannot recall ever seeing you at any of these meetings. If you had come you would see first hand the issues of redevelopment we have been addressing. In all fairness your paper has reported on these events, but evidently it hasn't made a very good impression on you.
Last week the Group unanimously approved a two part development plan and delivered to the City government for their review and input. This plan involves attempting to raise money through State tax credits which will allow possible new construction on our numerous vacant lots. Another part of our plan involved obtaining Block grants similar to what Kennett is doing. This Block grant could be used by the City to improve streets, lights and other public works.
We don't know whether we will be successful in implementing these two projects. We do know that it will take the enthusiastic support of the majority of our citizens.
Mike, you and I grew up in Sikeston. Memories of the downtown cotton carnival, the Miss Sikeston Contest, the parades and even smell of Kirby burgers will forever be with us. I think each community's downtown area is unique and reflects a certain personality to its citizens. I think keeping this unique identity is important. We can't let our inner core whither and die. I would hate to see the day, when our Chamber of Commerce is asked by visitors about our retail trade and all we can say is our Wal-Mart is bigger than theirs.
Sure would appreciate if you would spend a little more time getting familiar with what we are attempting to do, than discussing which way Center Street runs.
James G. Bucher