Opinion

David Jenkins: Step up and help better Downtown Sikeston

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Anyone who has been to Perryville has almost certainly been downtown and visited what is called the Square. It often serves as the center of activity for a block party or race or home brew contest, drawing residents to numerous downtown shops and restaurants.

Those who havenít been to the Square in Perryville, have almost certainly been to downtown Cape Girardeau, where there are always events drawing people downtown to restaurants and stores.

In both cases, downtown serves as a heartbeat to the community. While Cape is helped by the Mississippi River rolling past downtown, there is nothing but stores, restaurants and most of all, atmosphere, drawing people to downtown Perryville.

Downtown Sikeston hasnít yet reached that level. While Downtown Sikeston has improved greatly in the last decade, there is still plenty of room for improvement. There are still vacant buildings and numerous physical improvements that can be made.

But to think Downtown Sikeston canít return to the hub it once was is just not looking at the potential.

In the last decade, Downtown Sikeston has brought in the popular Wine Festival and the St. Patrickís Day Beerfest, concerts and Dashing Through Downtown during Christmas season just to name a few. There is also a variety of different stores and a few restaurants along with Sikeston city offices that attract people downtown.

But that is just scratching the surface on the possibilities. I imagine a downtown with more restaurants, maybe a brewhouse, alley parties with hanging lights and much more housing, especially upper story housing. I can imagine downtown that bustles with activity on the weekends with many different kinds of events.

Iíve spoken with others who have similar visions of downtown, but in speaking with same people I also hear a lot of doubt. Too many times we sit around and complain about what could be but isnít instead of working to make it what it can be.

There are good people with Historic Downtown Sikeston that are working to make Downtown Sikeston what it could be. And there is plenty of room for others in the community to step up and help as well. People can support Historic Downtown Sikeston just by joining the organization. Membership helps to not only keep having events like the Wine Festival but to continue revitalizing Downtown Sikeston and helping bring more businesses downtown.

A healthy downtown means successful businesses, engaged citizens, cultural events and jobs, all things Iím sure most of us want for Sikeston. But unless the community comes together and steps up to take part in the bettering of downtown, we will be missing out on a huge opportunity.

David Jenkins is co-editor of the Standard Democrat.

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