If you have questions or concerns about the recent changes to our trash pick-up schedules and the new 95-gallon bins, plan to attend the Ward 2 community meeting on Monday, April 19, at 7 p.m. in the Maryland Heights Community Center.

Ward 2 Councilmembers Judy Barnett and Ed Dirck will lead a discussion of the new automated trash collection system. Guest speakers will be Tony Lamantia of Allied Waste and Gary Gilliam of Resource Management, the company that accepts all the city's recyclables

Residents from all wards in Maryland Heights are welcome to attend.
Acting on a suggestion from the July meeting for Ward 1, Ken Gold and Don Hunt brought in Bryan Pearl to answer residents' questions about current and upcoming infrastructure projects in Maryland Heights.

Ward 1 Meeting Notes

The majority of the meeting focused on current and planned infrastructure projects for Maryland Heights. A briefing on the projects follows at the end of this post.

MetroLink Discussion

A lively discussion ensued on the possibility of MetroLink coming to Maryland Heights. Unfortunately, the Ward 1 representatives took away the “message” from last month’s Listen & Learn that the majority of residents were against MetroLink coming to Maryland Heights. That’s not what we took away from the meeting: it looked like 50% for and 50% against when an informal vote was taken at the Listen & Learn meeting.

Residents at the Ward 1 meeting challenged that false conclusion and the ward meeting appeared to again split 50% for and 50% against MetroLink. It will be an interesting community discussion to have once it ever becomes a true possibility as it appears to be partly a generational issue. Younger, working adults tend to be pro-MetroLink while older retirees tend to be against it.

The truth is a lot of early residents chose to move to a semi-rural area before Maryland Heights was a city. Now, it’s a second-ring suburb of St. Louis and more urban. To find a similar, semi-rural community, you’d have to look at western St. Charles County these days.

Please note:  There are NO current plans or money to pursue MetroLink in Maryland Heights at this time so everyone can relax.

Allied Waste Changes Coming

Allied Waste is currently working with the city on a test of new garbage cans. The joint intention is to keep costs low so that residents can continue to enjoy the free garbage, recyclables and yard-waste pick-up currently provided by the city. The goal is to move toward a uniform-size garbage can that can increase automation in the pick-up process. If the test goes well, residents may be provided a new garbage can (at no cost) to use for garbage pick-up. No changes are anticipated for recyclables or yard-waste pick-up.

Maryland Heights Infrastructure Projects

Dorsett Road Sidewalks to Creve Coeur Park(October - December 2009) Beginning in October, construction will take place on the north side of Dorsett Road from Pheasant Run Drive to Rule. It will provide a separated sidewalk from Dorsett with an elevated pathway to the north of the guard rail where the land drops off. At the same time, a south sidewalk will be installed from Garden Lane, past the fire house, and connecting to the existing sidewalk to the east. Estimated completion: December 2009.

(Planning Stage)  Under consideration is a North sidewalk on Dorsett Road from Pheasant Run Apartments west to Marine Avenue to complete the North sidewalk from the McKelvey-Dorsett shopping area all the way to Marine. Estimated start date: Summer 2010.

Creve Coeur Park and Marine Avenue

(Planning Stage) St. Louis County is planning a shared pathway that would move walkers and bikers from the Dorsett entrance of upper Creve Coeur Park down to lower Creve Coeur Park and the lake. The path may have switchbacks to allow a safe descent. The purpose is to move bikes and pedestrians off the dangerous and narrow part of Marine that winds down to the lake and give them safe passage on an easily navigable pathway separate from traffic. Estimated start date: Summer 2010.

I-270 and Dorsett Road Interchange

(2009 – 2012) This summer, you’ve probably noticed the utility work going on around the ramps to I-270 along Dorsett Road. It’s all preliminary work for the “divergent diamond” interchange being constructed over the next two years.  Work began this spring with the closings of the BP Station and Waffle House east of I-270. The two businesses were closed to prepare for moving Progress Parkway north of Dorsett Road to a new intersection farther east on Dorsett. This will eliminate the bottleneck of traffic that currently jams up traffic along Dorsett Road, Progress Parkway, and the I-270 entrance/exit ramps.

Work will begin in earnest in January 2010 after the I-64/Hwy. 40 roadway is completely finished. Expect to see closures of I-270 entrance and exit ramps at Dorsett Road. East-west traffic on Dorsett Road will be able to get through, but traffic will be diverted to Schuetz Road on the east and McKelvey on the west to move cars from Dorsett to I-270 via Page Avenue.

There will also be a temporary bridge constructed to the west of the current I-270 bridge over Dorsett to accommodate regular interstate traffic during the complete rebuilding of the bridge.

The new interchange will finally provide safe passage for walkers and bikes under I-270 and connect the east and west sides of Dorsett Road currently dissected by I-270.

Look to the city website (www.marylandheights.com), the monthly newsletter, or your ward meetings for on-going updates on this project.  You can go to the MODOT website for complete information and diagrams of the “divergent diamond” intersection that is being built at http://www.modot.org/stlouis/major_projects/I-270andDorsettInterchangeProject.htm.
As MHRRG was coming together early this year as a broad-based community effort by residents in Maryland Heights, one of the first issues we tackled was the lack of regular ward meetings. While Ward 3 regularly has meetings, none of the other wards do and it had been, in fact, years since meetings were held in Wards 1, 2 and 4.

When confronted with the lack of ward meetings, the most common response from our ward representatives and city government was the complaint that only 5-6 people ever showed up for the meetings and it wasn't worth it.

MHRRG countered their complaints with our assertion that residents in Maryland Heights did care and would show up if the meetings were regularly scheduled and properly advertised through a variety of communications to residents.

Thanks to continuous efforts by MHRRG members Robyn Merschen and Kim Cuddeback, Ward 1 held a long-delayed residents' meeting on June 8. In addition to the traditional neighborhood signs, MHRRG sent email to the hundreds of people on our mailing list.

The turnout was fantastic! Over 58 people joined Ward 1 City Council members Ken Gold and Don Hunt for a spirited dialog on community development and transportation activities in Maryland Heights as well as an introduction to the new police dog and his handler, Office John Wilson. Residents clearly voiced their preference for regular meetings, approximately every four months.

We'll refrain from saying, "I told you so," but the absence of regular ward meetings is a serious problem and hinders accountability and transparency in city government. The council members have a responsibility to be the "eyes and ears" of their wards. They represent everyone and it's hard to do that without regular ward meetings where they can learn from, and talk to, their constituents.

Ward meetings are one of the few city forums that aren’t restricted by meeting protocols and are truly open to a productive dialog with our elected representatives. While time is allotted at City Council meetings and Planning Commission meetings for public  comments, they are time restricted  (usually three minutes per speaker) and there is no opportunity to ask questions or have a discussion with the city representatives or other meeting members.

So what can you do?

Ward 1 – Your next meeting is coming up, please attend!
To their credit, Ken Gold and Don Hunt, have just scheduled their next Ward 1 meeting, fulfilling their promise to residents at the June 8th meeting.
Monday, September 14, at 7 p.m. at the Maryland Heights Community Centre on McKelvey Road.

Wards 2 and 4 – It's time to contact your City Council members and ask why they aren't holding regular ward meetings.
Each City Council member has a public phone number and a city email address. Please feel free to contact them.

Ward 2
Ed Dirck:
 314-878-9001  edirck@marylandheights.com
Judy Barnett:  314-878-0056  jbarnett@marylandheights.com

Ward 4
Norm Rhea:
 314-739-0096  nrhea@marylandheights.com
Carol Turner:  314-739-5086  cturner@marylandheights.com

Ward 3 – Keep up the good work and let us know when the next meeting is scheduled.
It should be noted that Ward 3 City Council members Mary Nichols and Don Johnson have had a long tradition of regularly scheduled ward meetings. We applaud their ongoing efforts to fully represent their residents!