Leaders work to improve downtown Sikeston
SIKESTON - Breathing life into the soul of a community is the mission of Main Street Missouri.
"Downtowns are the heart of a community," said Norma Ramirez de Miess, of Main Street USA.
Main Street USA and Main Street Missouri spent last week meeting with community leaders and examining the features of downtown Sikeston.
Sikeston is one of three area towns which participate in the Main Street Missouri program based in Branson, Mo., and funded from a U.S.D.A. grant. The other communities are Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
Last week, Miess presented Historic Downtown Sikeston with her thoughts on the potential of its growth.
"Sikeston is ready to grow," said Miess. "Our approach to examining a downtown is structured on four key points: design, economic vitality, promotion, and organization."
Miess gave examples of other communities which have successfully used these core principles to make their downtown an actual destination for the the community and visitors.
Main street participants Cape Girardeau and Washington, Mo. are nearby communities whose downtown regions are bustling with commerce.
Miess recommended using art in all aspects of the downtown to make the area pleasing to visitors. "Large open walls are perfect for murals to reflect the area's heritage," said Miess.
Decorating the walkways enhances the area, and actually using that space to displays items for sale if possible," added Miess.
Miess showed pictures of decorative benches and bike racks in the shape of a bicycle to illustrate.
Lynn Lancaster, director of Historic Downtown Sikeston, is hopeful that the downtown area can continue to grow and become a destination.
"It's a process and we have the components in place to see growth and exciting changes," said Lancaster .
Lancaster cautioned that patience is required to overcome years of economic decline in downtowns across the land.
"We hope to develop more residential properties near downtown Sikeston, and attract more restaurants and businesses, so its a hub of activity."
Lancaster is a native of Sikeston and has nostalgic memories from his youth.
"I remember growing up in this town when the sidewalks were bustling with traffic and families shopped in downtown stores," said Lancaster.
"By this process we are rebuilding our culture as a community where we live and where our kids are raised, and our beliefs are formed," said Lancaster.