Public meeting allows residents to voice opinions on new Emergency Operations Center in Klaus Park

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – Klaus Park has long been a space for outdoor recreation, but local residents are concerned that a new Emergency Operations Center will hamper their ability to enjoy the park. 

At a public meeting at the park on Wednesday, park users, including runner Holly Chapman, voiced their concerns about Cape Girardeau County’s plans to construct the new facility in the park. 

“This park has been one of the most unique places I have seen and one of the spaces that characterizes the community as a whole because it is maintained by the community, it is used fully by the community, and you can see so much togetherness and solidarity that really does characterize the city and the county as a whole in this park,” she said.

The SEMO Mudcats youth mountain biking team regularly uses the park for practices. The park hosts mountain biking races and there are plans for even bigger races in the future. 

“As a coach on the team, I’ve got a lot of kids on the team who use this field for practicing their skills, and we really don’t want to lose this unique space,” Mudcats head coach Mike Higgins said. “Even if it’s just for a season, we don’t want to lose access to it. We don’t want to lose the momentum we’ve got out here.” 

The county received a grant earlier this year to cover the cost of the project, which is estimated to be $5 million. 

Associate District Commissioner Charlie Herbst said the new facility would consolidate the equipment to one place in the event of a natural disaster.

“The problem is that we’ve got equipment that has been given to us or is on loan to us from the state and also from FEMA, the federal government, Homeland Security that we’ve got located in just different places,” he said. “The city of Cape also has equipment, and so does the city of Jackson. If we have some kind of natural event that would wipe out some of those areas, we wouldn’t have that equipment available.” 

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