Cape Girardeau County has purchased a new parcel of land to be used for a new Emergency Operations Center, after facing opposition to placing the emergency management building in Klaus Park.
The Cape Girardeau County commissioners announced on Dec. 13 that they had made an agreement to purchase six acres of land from Touchdown Development LLC for $750,000. The City of Cape Girardeau sold the land, which was previously part of the Greater Cape Girardeau Business Park, to Touchdown this fall.
“Tentatively, we had looked at that area before and had conversations with people at the city,” Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said. “Once the new owners were receptive to having a discussion, it was a win-win.”
The approximately 7000 square-foot building will be located at the southeast corner of Interstate 55 and Lasalle Avenue. The county had planned on building the Emergency Operations Center on the open field in Klaus Park across the driveway from the park’s pavilions and restrooms.
Matt Smith, who organized meetings with county officials in Klaus Park on Nov. 16 to voice their concerns about the potential building location in the park, said he was thankful that county commissioners looked for an alternative location. “It’s a blessing,” he said.
Residents had voiced concerns that the county building would limit the only “open green space”in the Klaus Park – where kids regularly play games and where the local youth mountain biking team SEMO Mudcats practice.
“I think the kids and the people who use the park will be excited about keeping the building out of the park and keeping the park natural,” Smith said. “I know the SEMO Mudcats are really excited to be able to practice in that field, hopefully, for many years.”
Tracy said the county had looked at several locations early in the process, but the Klaus Park site was the only site at the time that was suitable.
“We said that unless something else becomes available, this is probably what’s going to happen,” Tracy said about the Klaus Park meetings. “We put that out in a meeting and it was reported on, so we had some people contact us.”
In addition, the county did not receive a $1.2 million grant from the Delta Regional Authority aiming to cover the infrastructure costs including water and sewer needed at Klaus Park for the project, as well as funding to upgrade existing parking and rest-rooms in the park.
Tracy said that without the grant funding and with the opposition to the Klaus Park construction, the newly available six acres near Interstate 55’s exit 102 became a much better option for the county.
“Why would we spend more money to do it at Klaus Park, when we could buy six acres and build it on a better site that is still accessible by the interstate,” he said.
County Commissioner Charlie Herbst estimated the infrastructure costs needed for a new building at Klaus Park would exceed $1 million — compared to the $750,000 land purchase. He said the land from Touchdown Development would be construction ready, with infrastructure including water, sewer and fiber already in place.
“We got six acres and were going to put the building on a third of an acre [at Klaus Park],” Herbst said. “It’s a good business decision at the end of the day.”
The Emergency Operations Center will meet “safe room” standards to safely store county, state and federal emergency management equipment from any natural disaster.
The building will also provide administrative offices for county emergency management personnel and can be used as an incident command center in the event of an emergency event.
The commission has allocated $5.3 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding to the project, and construction is expected to begin mid-2023.