By David Wilson, EdD. Wilson is a school administrator, writer, presenter, and consultant. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In downtown Jefferson City, I could take you to a spot where a huge chunk of plaster is coming loose on an exterior wall on one of the buildings and I could pull it off with my bare hands.
And I’m not Superman.
The city does a great job to promote downtown and there has certainly been some work done over the years to make it more ascetically pleasing, but there are still buildings in need of repair and/or restoration.
There is certainly an opportunity for Jefferson City to do more to make the area more inviting.
The problem is that in Jefferson City, and in communities everywhere, buildings are rarely restored to look like they did when they were brand new.
There is much good work that can be done in the downtown area. Stucco buildings can be repaired. Brick structures can be rejuvenated. And high pressure water can be used to clean buildings and sidewalks.
As the years go by, brick and mortar becomes stained, worn, and prone to absorb water during a rain (much like a sponge).
During winter, water absorbed by brick freezes and expands, causing the brick to crack and the mortar to crumble.
Eventually, a brick building is in need of cleaning, repair, and waterproofing. In some cases, the entire exterior may need to be restored.
It is possible to clean brick buildings with chemicals that are safe according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the cleaning can be done with a process that meets the approval of architects.
In addition, the masonry joints between the brick can be fully restored through a process called tuck pointing, which makes the structure stronger and more water-resistant.
But it must be done properly to make a building look like new.
More of this kind of work is needed to truly revitalize the downtown area. As it is, not enough buildings make the grade.
Too many are showing the years of wear and too many storefronts are simply unattractive.
If a building looks old, that’s not bad in and of itself.
An old look can be good. A historic look can be good. A rustic look can be good.
But unfortunately in some instances in downtown Jefferson City, we simply have a dilapidated look.
And dilapidated is not good.
To fully address this issue, it takes money, and lots of it. The community has to decide if it’s worth it to make downtown look new and clean and attractive again. The state should ask itself that question as well. After all, this is the capitol, with lots of out-of-town visitors, and like it or not, in some respects the downtown area is the face of Missouri.
In the end, the community may feel that downtown isn’t worth the money or the effort.
But it’s at least worth having a conversation about it.