My 15th Look at St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Drive

 

 Today is the annual holiday to honor the civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the …

Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Police Continue To Be Required To Live In The City?

 

 For the nearly 30 years I’ve lived in St. Louis all city employees must live within the city’s limits. This has included members of our police department. This may change — for the police only. “Right now, we have a clean bill,” Hicks said in a committee hearing on the …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 28 of 2019-2020 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 28th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 27. Today’s agenda includes two (2) new bills. B.B.#191 — Rice/P.Boyd/Spencer/Navarro/Ingrassia/Guenther Green – An Ordinance amending …

St. Louis Lambert International Airport Needs An Open Regional Approach, Not Private Shareholders

 

 Recently St. Louis Mayor  Lyda Krewson announced the process to consider bids to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport, which began with her predecessor, was dead. To many of us this was a good thing. Whenever I’d post about airport privatization a reader would post a comment like this: What …

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My 15th Look at St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Drive

January 20, 2020 Featured, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on My 15th Look at St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Drive
 

Today is the annual holiday to honor the civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.

King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. (Wikipedia)

Following King’s death many cities began renaming streets in his honor. In 1968 the Veterans Bridge, opened in 1951 over the Mississippi River, was renamed to honor King.   Four years later, after much debate, St. Louis joined other cities by renaming two streets through the city after King — beginning at the Missouri end of the Martin Luther King Bridge.

Dr. Martin Luther King Drive starts down by the Mississippi River’s edge, and follows what was Franklin Avenue, making fits and starts in the convention center. King Drive continues westward, following old Franklin until just west of Jefferson Avenue. There, it abandons Franklin and gives King’s name to Easton, which, for generations, was an important shopping and socializing avenue for the blacks and whites in the northern part of the city and the inner ring suburbs of St. Louis County. (St. Louis Public Radio)

By 1972 the Wellston Loop shopping district, once second only to downtown, on Easton at the city/Wellston city limits, was already in decline. In 1965 Northwest Plaza had opened a short 15 minute drive further into St. Louis County.

In 1972 some wanted a more prominent street renamed after King — Lindell, for example. These days streets are not renamed, an honorary designation is added but addresses aren’t changed.

Let’s start today’s look at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at the west end at the Wellston Loop.

For decades this was the point where streetcars turned around to head back downtown. The last few years a tarp had cover the roof, but it is no longer in place.
In this view you can see the lack of tarp protecting the building from water damage.
The street is increasingly sparse. I still miss the 4-story building that was on the other side of the Loop building. Click image for more information on that building.
As it looked in 2013
2017
The 2-story building on the NW corner of MLK Drive and Hamilton is now gone. It wasn’t remarkable, but it was part of a continuous group on that block — now a hole. This is part of the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood which was getting a huge demolition focus in 2019. 
Just after demolition in August 2019.
Up close in July 2019
Last year
The group a year ago.
Just west of Union is the vacant site, I’d watched the home deteriorate for years.
In 2017
In 2013
East of Union is a still intact group of commercial buildings. One looks like it was hit by a car. Reviewing Google Streetview this happened after August 2017.
Just east of Kingshighway (4965 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr) a new building has been under construction since last summer, but the future occupant is unclear. City records list WM Grand Plaza LLC of Ballwin as the owner.
Recently palleted bricks site on the sidewalk where a building once stood.
Last year I said this was “Another building in need of stabilization.” It was actually two buildings, both from 1893. 4740-42 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.
The former John Marshall School at Newstead is still vacant and deteriorating.
4208-4216 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive is in the final stages of demolition.
Last year bricks were starting to fall from it, I said then “It should be stabilized, but it’ll likely be allowed to crumble until neighbors demand it be razed.”
Another building I’ve been watching crumble is 3047 Dr. Martin Luther King, the back wing has now completely collapsed. Built in 1880 it is owned by the City’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA)
In 2012 the rear wing was still intact…sorta.
At Tucker the former Post-Dispatch newspaper building is being converted to offices for Square.

In some of the years past long vacant buildings were getting renovated, new housing being built. Those positives remain, but otherwise the deterioration  continues.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Police Continue To Be Required To Live In The City?

January 19, 2020 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Police Continue To Be Required To Live In The City?
 
Please vote below

For the nearly 30 years I’ve lived in St. Louis all city employees must live within the city’s limits. This has included members of our police department.

This may change — for the police only.

“Right now, we have a clean bill,” Hicks said in a committee hearing on the proposal on Tuesday. “We have a good path through the House; we have a good path through the Senate right to the governor’s desk. He himself told me he’ll sign the bill if we can get it there the way it is written.”

Currently, St. Louis police officers must live inside city limits for at least seven years. This legislation would allow officers to live anywhere that is within a one-hour response time to their precinct.

Mayor Lyda Krewson and Police Chief John Hayden would like to see the requirements changed. They both believe this will help with retention and recruitment problems the city is experiencing. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Police residency is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 28 of 2019-2020 Session

January 17, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 28 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 28th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 27.

Today’s agenda includes two (2) new bills.

  • B.B.#191 — Rice/P.Boyd/Spencer/Navarro/Ingrassia/Guenther Green – An Ordinance amending Ordinance 68597, by creating and defining six Temporary Food Permit Types with a permit fee schedule; identifying Low Income, Low Access census tracts; establishing a Temporary Food Safety Training Special Fund to help pay for Temporary Food Safety Training; recognizing and requiring a free application with the Health Department for Cottage Food Production Operation Temporary Food Permit waivers, established by RSMo. § 196.298; and further explaining what happens to a new annually approvable food permit that is not approved within ninety (90) days, all to be codified in Chapter 11.42 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis.
  • B.B.#192 – Vollmer – An Ordinance authorizing the Amendment to Ground Lease (“Amendment”) between the City of St. Louis and Lucas-Hunt Associates, L.P., a Missouri limited partnership, for property and improvements commonly known as the Hampton Gardens Apartments located at 5927 Suson Place, St. Louis, Missouri 63139.

Their informal calendar includes one Bill for perfection— a public vote to reconsider reducing the size of their body in half.

Board Bills for Perfection – Informal Calendar
IGA B.B.#11 – Muhammad/Vaccaro – An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters a proposed amendment to the Charter of the City to maintain the Board of Aldermen as a body of twenty-eight Aldermen representing twenty-eight wards and preventing its reduction beginning December 31, 2021 to a body of fourteen Aldermen representing fourteen wards as called for under Article I, Section 3 of the City Charter; proving for an election to be held for voting on the proposed amendment and the manner for the voting; and for the publication, certification, deposit, and recording of this ordinance; and containing an emergency clause.

I’m still in favor of cutting the number of members from 28 to 14 — what matters more to me is how the new ward boundaries are drawn.

Republican senators rolled out a plan Tuesday to ask Missouri voters to undo key parts of a nationally unique redistricting model that directs a demographer to draw new legislative districts with “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” as top criteria.

The Republican proposal would abolish the demographer position and relegate political fairness and competitiveness to the bottom of the priority list, behind such criteria as compact and contiguous districts that keep communities intact. (AP via NBC News)

The Board of Aldermen meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Lambert International Airport Needs An Open Regional Approach, Not Private Shareholders

January 15, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on St. Louis Lambert International Airport Needs An Open Regional Approach, Not Private Shareholders
 

Recently St. Louis Mayor  Lyda Krewson announced the process to consider bids to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport, which began with her predecessor, was dead. To many of us this was a good thing.

This dawn photograph of the Lambert Main Terminal was taken in June 1956, less than 4 months after its opening. Photograph by Ralph D’Oench, Missouri Historical Society Collections

Whenever I’d post about airport privatization a reader would post a comment like this:

What the vast majority of people who oppose privatization don’t know is that — in spite of the airport bringing in significantly more revenue than expenses — the City of St. Louis only gets roughly $6 million towards general revenue.

The 1994 FAA reauthorization bill banned airports from taking airport revenue and using it for non-airport uses. St. Louis is one of about a dozen airports which were grandfathered in, but are limited to the amount of money they took at that time, adjusted for inflation.

If the airport were privatized, all revenues from the lessor would be able to go towards general revenue — which would be significantly more than the $6 million a year today.

So basically this is preventing St. Louis from pulling too much money out of the airport, requiring most revenue to service airport debt and to reinvest.

Privatization would enable more money to be siphoned out of the airport — money the winning bidder would cheerfully send to their shareholders, out of state/country home office, donate to friendly politicians, and pay former politicians working as consultants. The city would also get more revenue for new trash trucks, etc.  Would private management at the airport enable it to generate more revenue than it currently does to offset the money leaving the airport? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Airports are important to the region they serve. The City of St. Louis is a small part of the region — both population and land area. Decisions made about the airport should place the interests of the region ahead of shareholders.

Airports, it seems, are the new convention centers — pressure to keep up with others. A recent story on this:

The average airport in the U.S. is now 40 years old, and experts estimate $128 billion in new investment is needed over the next five years just to keep up with the growing number of flyers.

Van Cleave asked Barnes, “Things stay the way they are now, will a traveler’s experience at U.S. airports get better or worse in the years to come?”

“Quite frankly, we think it’ll get worse,” she replied.

That fear has led to a nationwide building boom, with major overhauls in progress at nearly 50 airports – including Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City. (CBS News)

Our airport an important asset for the city & region. Rather than go down the privatization route, the city & region need to have open dialog about what we want from our airport, set goals. Then we need brainstorming on ways to achieve these goals.

Not a backdoor process designed to enrich the few players. We need to reach a consensus on the problems and possible solutions. Not sure this is even possible in our city/region.

Here are the non-scientific results of the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Mayor Krewson should not have abruptly ended the privatization process without first reviewing some bids.

  • Strongly agree: 2 [9.52%]
  • Agree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Somewhat agree: 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Disagree: 5 [23.81%]
  • Strongly disagree: 11 [52.38%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

I’m glad the process stopped when it did because I can hear elected officials saying “It’s too late to stop now” has it continued. Remember, always follow the money.

— Steve Patterson

Eads Bridge Remains Inaccessible Years After Arch Project “Completed”

January 13, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on Eads Bridge Remains Inaccessible Years After Arch Project “Completed”
 

Thursday last week I decided to go see the level of the Mississippi River before we began getting rains and localized flooding. The best view is from the pedestrian walkway on the south side of the Eads Bridge top deck. I knew there had been accessibility issues at the west end of the sidewalk, but the I’d seen some asphalt had been put down to lessen the problem.

The loaner wheelchair I’m using couldn’t get over the huge gap.

So I had to stand up and, while not falling, drag the chair up onto the sidewalk by pulling on each front caster, alternating from left to right. Someone saw me and came to help when I was nearly finished.

This is the view as I approached. The steel plate and asphalt are more recent, but now ineffective.
If we step back across Memorial Drive we see barricades have been placed to physically prevent anyone from going from the Eads to Arch grounds, or vice versa.

It seems a contractor on the Arch project accidentally busted into the MetroLink light rail tunnel beneath the Eads Bridge/Washington Ave. Since Metro owns the bridge & tunnel it’s up to them to get it fixed.

Let’s take a look at my older photos, in reverse order.

May 31, 2019. A steel plate covered the gravel but no asphalt yet to get up
May 2, 2019
April 1, 2019
March 16, 2019
May 7, 2017 is my oldest photo of the problem. This is when I began conversations with various officials about being able to access the pedestrian walkway in my wheelchair.

So this problem is about three years old at this point. Three years!

I did get to see the river level last week, but it took far more effort than it should have.

As Spring flooding season begins I’d like to get regular photos to show how water is approaching and eventually covering Lenore K. Sullivan Blvd.   I live close by so this shouldn’t be the issue it is.

— Steve Patterson

 

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