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Cape Girardeau Launches Neighborhood Development Initiative

A program that will bring leadership skills and a two-way flow of communication between Cape Girardeau neighborhoods and City Hall will launch later this year.

The Neighborhood Development Initiative will start with two pilot neighborhoods. One neighborhood is between Highway 74 and Hackberry Street, and Beaudean Lane and Ranney Street. The other is between Big Bend Road and Water Street, and East Cape Rock Drive and Second Street.

Each neighborhood will develop a neighborhood association, according to Cape Girardeau city planner Jennifer Criblez. Leaders will emerge from the association who will then work with a Neighborhood Association Coalition to share ideas, problems and solutions.

“We’ll be providing them with those resource and tools that will be necessary to lead their neighborhood,” Criblez said. “We’ll be helping them learn everything from how to conduct a meeting to how to present to council so that they feel comfortable leading their neighborhood.”

The long-term goal is to a create a two-way flow of communication between the city and neighborhoods through the neighborhood leaders. Criblez foresees several issues that could be addressed by neighborhood groups such as streetlights and crimes that are repeated over and over.

“It really helps to improve communication between neighborhoods and the city as well as amongst neighbors themselves, to really help position neighborhoods in a place where they feel like they have a voice and are able to make consistent change to their neighborhood,” Criblez said.

A steering committee of city staff members from the planning department, the police department and the public information office chose the two neighborhoods because, Criblez said, they have a good chance for success.

“We’ve got such a diverse population in those areas of people that have lived there for many years and some folk that have just moved into the neighborhood,” Criblez said. “We’ve got a number of landlords in the neighborhood. There’s some churches that have been well-established in those neighborhoods. And we’ve got some businesses that really want to see those neighborhoods succeed and be good foundations for their businesses.”

The program received support from city council on Monday. The neighborhood development initiative will kick off on October 1.