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Our Opinion: Clearing the way for redevelopment

Demolition can be constructive.

The dismantling now under way at the Missouri State Penitentiary Redevelopment Site is a welcome sight.

The redevelopment effort has not progressed rapidly.

Although $2.3 million in grant funding was secured in 2010 to remove specified buildings, the demolition awaited completion of required environmental assessments of the entire site.

The structures to be razed were determined to be dilapidated and to have minimal historic value.

The demolition will occur in two phases.

During the first phase, continuing through June 15, structures scheduled for demolition include the education building, corridor canteen, prison chapel, planning unit warehouse, outside industry warehouse, slaughter house, west section of the north wall, and areas around Housing Unit 1/Administration Building.

Phase two demotion — to be bid in mid-May and finished by January 2013 — will target the diesel plant, power plant, I Hall, inside warehouse and a section of the east wall.

Completion of the demolition would clear the way for continued redevelopment, if adequate funding can be secured.

The 140-acre site was subdivided in 2009 into three areas. One is the historic area where tours now are conducted and where structural renovations are planned.

The remaining areas are designated either for government or private development. Road construction also is planned.

The redevelopment site offers great potential for our community, including historic renovation, continuation of popular prison tours, new government facilities and added venues for commerce, retail and nightlife.

Clearing the way is a vital step in the redevelopment process.

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