Citing the zipline adventure course proposed for Creve Coeur Park as a benefit for area residents, the St. Louis County Council passed the proposal in a vote of five to one in tonight’s meeting. Councilman Quinn, whose district includes Greensfelder Park where the course was initially proposed, was the only dissenter, saying he was uncomfortable with using public lands for profit.
More than 15 county residents spoke about how the proposal would undermine the value of the park, focusing on loss of wildlife habitat and quiet green space. The lack of public hearings and input on the project was another deep concern.
One speaker spoke in favor of the course, in addition to Acting Parks Director Tom Ott, who said the project will benefit many people in the county and provide 12 jobs. Proceeds from the operation will go into the parks budget. The course is expected to open this summer.
Speak Up NOW for Creve Coeur Park's Future! Tuesday, February 19 at 6 p.m.
St. Louis County Council Chambers
41 S. Central Ave., Clayton, MO 63105
To Go Ape or Not Go Ape: This Is the Question
St. Louis County Council Wants to Squelch
We think the public has an important role to play in determining the nature and scope of changes made to St. Louis County's most popular park: Creve Coeur Park. With over 1 million visitors a year it is the people's park, bought and maintained by the taxpayers and voters of St. Louis County.
In a proposal produced last fall, St. Louis County sought to enter into a contract with Go Ape, a developer of adventure activities, to install a tree-top adventure course in Greensfelder Park. They held two community forums to inform the public, only to find out the public did NOT want the course located there. After significant public debate, that proposal was withdrawn.
This winter, the St. Louis County Council moved the proposed course to Upper Creve Couer Park without any attempt to involve the public in a discussion of the merits of the project in the new location. There has been NO attempt to bring park users & taxpayers into the conversation with community meetings and detailed information on the scope of the proposed development by Go Ape.
There are other troubling aspects to the process of approving this major change to Creve Coeur Park:
We believe there is a serious lack of public input and a breech of trust with St. Louis County residents in this attempt to force through a speedy vote on the Go Ape contract. We need clarification on several issues:
- The St. Louis County Council has quietly put the project on a fast track to a contract approval. It has already passed a preliminary plan approval in Bill No. 26, 2013 at last Tuesday's county council meeting.
- This Tuesday, Feb. 19, they fully intend to commit to the contract with Go Ape.
With so many open questions, we believe it is important to slow the process down and conduct full public hearings on the Go Ape contract proposal.Here's what you can do:
- Why is the council circumventing the normal public-engagement process?
- What's the hurry? Why is it being fast tracked in two consecutive meetings over 8 days?
- St. Louis County Parks have a detailed master plan for the parks and this type of use is not mentioned. Why are they circumventing the parks' well-considered master plan?
- Why are they allowing Go Ape to stipulate the required environmental assessment comes after contract approval? There will be significant changes made to the tree canopy and disruption to the internationally designated important birding area.
- Is the modest income projected from this adventure course worth disturbing the people's park for private profit?
- As it currently stands, any monies paid to St. Louis County will go into the general fund, NOT St. Louis County Parks. How does that help the parks?
- Attend the St. Louis County Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. and voice your opinions.
- Contact your St. Louis County Council member and let them know you want public input on this proposed contract.
- Contact the bill's sponsor, County Council District 2 Council Member Kathleen Burkett, and let her know what questions you have and what you think of the project.
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Whether or not you foster fond memories of the Pasta House restaurant on Dorsett near McKelvey Road, you no doubt have noticed what an eyesore it has become since it closed.
Take heart: the landowner there has submitted a preliminary development plan to raze the old restaurant and build a new multi-tenant building in its place. No leases have been signed, but tenants could include something along the lines of an eye glass company, cell phone retailer and possibly a small restaurant. On October 9, the Planning & Zoning Commission approved the plan with modifications, which primarily are aimed at improvements to the building's design features.
Another, perhaps greater, concern is how the new building will help or hinder the effort to move Dorsett Road toward becoming a "Great Street" (see post below), that is, more pedestrian and bike friendly with a unique character. Merely replacing the Pasta House with a newer version of the same thing does not contribute to the city's own initiative to bring more distinctive character to the neighborhood.
Many buildings along the Dorsett/McKelvey business district are older and may come up for replacement at some point. We should take every opportunity, including the one with the Pasta House location, to make sure we are creating the community and street-scape that we want, and not just perpetuating the past.
Hundreds of people have signed up for our email alerts over the last four years to keep up with the latest development proposals near Creve Coeur Park. We're switching to a new email service, so to keep the information coming, please sign up for email alerts AGAIN with the link at right.
We expect developers of Maryland Pointe to return with a conceptual plan for their big-box development in the next few months. Stay on top of the news by re-subscribing!
The following is a full reprint of remarks made by resident Melissa Moulton at the August 23 public hearing on the Maryland Pointe development, in the Howard Bend area, next to Creve Coeur Park.
A good Missouri boy named Mark Twain once said, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” I think what that means to us today is that you can’t properly evaluate the Maryland Pointe proposal unless you use your imagination to see what other possibilities there are.
Residents who oppose this development are not naysayers, we’re visionaries. We’re using our imaginations to see what else is possible. For example:
· With its proximity to other outlying farms, could this land be the site of a large regional farmer’s market, on the scale of Soulard Market?
· Could recreational attractions be expanded, such as the new soccer fields going in across from the Lakehouse Restaurant?
· Could it be the area’s first solar farm?
· Could it serve the fast-growing market for locally-produced food, for customers such as Schnucks, Dierbergs and local restaurants?
· Could it hold a training ground for science education for Parkway, Pattonville, Maryville, Lindenwood, and beyond?
· Could it provide a unique environment for research by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center? Has anyone asked?
· Would it be suitable for grazing cattle or horses?
· Floodplains are not unique to Missouri. Could the Missouri Botanical Garden be interested in this habitat for its global research projects?
Just think of the possibilities! This land could be so many things that add to us locally and to the region as a whole. Unique attractions. Businesses that grow the economy by providing something new and different. Expanded recreation and agricultural resources that have too often gotten pushed further and further out from where people need them.
But please, not another generic retail area that robs from neighboring communities – and even our own – for the short-term gain of a few developers.
Maryland Pointe is the first proposal to come to us for this location – not counting a quite similar proposal by the same developers, in roughly the same spot, in 2008. To accept this proposal would be like getting married after your first date. All I can say is don’t do it. There will be other suitors, other worthy ideas. All you need to see them is your imagination.
The following is a full reprint of comments made by resident Norma "Susie" Meyer at the Maryland Heights Planning Commission Meeting on August 23, 2011.
I wish to acknowledge the members of Maryland Heights Planning and Zoning Commission, Maryland Heights Officials, my fellow residents of Maryland Heights and YOU the developers. Thank You for allowing me to speak.
Do you sometimes think who or how many people live in the truth of reality? The word REALITY is defined as "The fact or state of being real or genuine, an actual situation."
In reality the developers have approached Maryland Heights Planning and Zoning Commission, our officials and the residents with an actual situation. Which is to develop Maryland Pointe, 191 acres of large-scale retail and/or mixed use in a flood plain adjacent to Creve Coeur Park. I enumerate on the words "flood plain" because although the levy is termed a 500-year levy the mighty Missouri River is truly in command when it comes to floods. Just as the Tornado of April 22 took command and devastated our Community. IT CAN HAPPEN.
The word REALISM is defined as "Concern or interest with actual facts and things as they really are."
I am a member of THE MARYLAND HEIGHTS RESIDENTS FOR RESPONSIBLE GROWTH and we are interested with actual facts and things as they really are. In other words "REALISM".
Actual facts are:
We pay taxes to support this city of Maryland Heights.
We choose to live here because of what Maryland Heights has to offer.
The EF3 Tornado devastated our community on April 22. Ninety per cent or more of these devastated homes owned by Maryland Heights residents are rebuilding. WHY? Because we know Maryland Heights is a great city. We need to keep it a quality First-Class city. Do not destroy what has already been built!!!!
We do not want a massive development next to our beloved Creve Coeur Park and along Maryland Heights Expressway as the developers have designated.
We do not want to diminish or damage all the joys of being a community that has a Park that is completely diversified in its assets and neither do we want our green space destroyed.
We do not want big box stores who promote products MADE IN CHINA.
We do not want added crime, pollution, traffic increase and excessive noise to disrupt our peaceful township.
We do not want our tax money wasted helping developers get RICH.
Nor do we want our community blighted with more vacant buildings.
This development stands a grave chance of failure and we will be left with the aftermath of no revenue and an eyesore of vacant buildings to mar and depreciate the value of our community.
The word REALIZE is defined as "To understand correctly."
I as a resident of Maryland Heights realize and understand correctly that:
Our country recently lost its rating and admitted its failure. The status and the crisis of the economy clearly defines that unemployment is at its greatest number. I realize that no jobs means no money to spend at THE PROPOSED Maryland Pointe Center. I realize that increased gas prices will deter shoppers outside of our community.
The developers state much, much revenue will benefit the community. Wow! Look at those dollar signs $$$$$. Dollar signs $$$ look good on paper.
BUT, I realize and correctly understand that promises sound so good but seldom mature to their estimated potential after the fact.
Like the reproduction of rabbits shopping centers pop up everywhere and then FLOP in a matter of time. Empty parking lots and empty buildings at Northwest Plaza and Crestwood are standing proof of failure. Do we want a new landscape like those??
In realization and in reality ARE shopping malls the answer to the LIFE LINE OF MARYLAND HEIGHTS AND/OR THE UNITED STATES? Or would building and/or re-opening manufacturing plants to create jobs and produce products that say, "MADE IN AMERICA'" be a far better route to take to save our great country.
Big box stores that say 'MADE IN CHINA' are taking over. And now a China HUB at Lambert Air Port.
Too bad we can't out source our shopping malls as they have outsourced our jobs.
Realize and understand correctly it's time to save our community. Bring business into our already existing vacant buildings, re-vamp Westport and bring back business that will benefit our community. Restore manufacturing in our vacant warehouses and create jobs.
In conclusion Officials and members of the Planning and Zoning Commission it is time to live in reality and face the actual situation. Have realism and be concerned with the actual facts and the things that really are. And finally realize and understand correctly that the residents of Maryland Heights want you to VETO this development. Please say "NO" to this massive development of Maryland Pointe.
And to you the developers, I may be a small voice next to a large developer but please realize and understand correctly that "THE RESIDENTS OF Maryland Heights" do not want you to develop Maryland Pointe and take 191 acres adjacent to Creve Coeur Park. The residents do not want you to destroy our wetlands, our productive farmlands, our Theis fresh produce farm and our green space. The residents do not want you to turn 191 acres into concrete pavement and large-scale retail and/or a mixed use district. Thank You!
The August 31 edition of the Suburban Journal printed a more complete summary of the August 23 Planning Commission meeting, which you can find here
. A good recap if you've missed previous meetings.
The next step in the process is the final (we hope) public hearing on September 27. The public will be allowed to make comments at the meeting, and the city planning staff will present their recommendation to the Planning Commission. Then, the commission is expected to vote on whether or not the Maryland Pointe proposal is allowed to go forward.
You can read a good summary of the August 23 Planning Commission meeting at www.marylandheightspatch.com
, an online source for local news. The full article can be found here: http://marylandheights.patch.com/articles/dont-call-us-stupid-sir-maryland-heights-residents-continue-opposition-to-development#c
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept 27. Save the date!
Yesterday's public hearing on the Maryland Pointe development drew a packed house that spilled out into the lobby. Those in favor of the development included, predictably, the developers, several landowners and the Howard Bend Levee District. They were greatly outnumbered by speakers and attendees who oppose the project.
Altogether, 18 speakers had their say over an hour-and-a-half. Opponents of the project were impressive in their diversity. Some have lived in Maryland Heights all their lives, others for only a month. There was Dr. Robert Criss, a professor from Washington University who is a well-known geologist and expert on floodplain development, a mother of two young boys, a retiree, an architect, a business owner, the executive director of the Coalition for the Environment and a mechanic, among others. People -- young, old, male, female, from all walks of life -- stood at the podium and spoke eloquently about why this development should not be allowed.
Five planning commissioners attended the meeting, which was better than the four that showed up at the first hearing on May 10, but still two members shy of the full Planning Commission. Because the Commission does not record the meeting or take detailed minutes, it is hard to see how anyone missing these meetings could be fully informed on the community impact of the project or understand the depth of feeling that runs against it.
The city did not present its report on the development's conceptual plan, as was expected, and therefore the Commission took no action on the proposal. The city has apparently asked for more information from the developer before making their review final. The Commission left the public hearing open until this new information is submitted and reviewed.
The next public hearing will most likely be June 28, July 12 or July 26. Let's use this time to:
-- Educate friends and neighbors on why this development is bad for Maryland Heights;
-- Get more people to sSign our petition; and
-- Call or email your council representatives to let them know how you want them to vote when the time comes.
There is a rumor going around that this development can’t be stopped, but it’s just that: a RUMOR. Working together, we CAN stop this development!