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Readers: Money Spent Improving Arch Grounds Not A Waste

May 31, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Parks No Comments

Over half those who voted in Sunday’s non-scientific poll don’t think it’s a waste to invest in the Arch ground improvements.

ver Q:  Agree or disagree: the millions being spent on changes in & around the Gateway Arch are a waste of taxpayer dollars.

  • Strongly agree 2 [6.06%]
  • Agree 2 [6.06%]
  • Somewhat agree 3 [9.09%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [9.09%]
  • Somewhat disagree 6 [18.18%]
  • Disagree 6 [18.18%]
  • Strongly disagree 11 [33.33%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

I tend to agree with the majority despite many other pressing needs in the region.More than a century ago local leaders got the idea to erase the original 1764 street grid and raze all buildings. Demolition began in 1939. When the Arch opened for visitors in 1968 the surroundings had been decimated by urban renewal, highways. surface parking, etc. In the 1980s (70s?) a parking garage was built at the North end of the grounds so visitors wouldn’t have to experience the awful surroundings.

So we’re spending more money to correct psst mistakes. Why bother? Tourism.

From 2015:

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 2 million visitors to Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 2014 spent $173 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 3000 jobs in the local area, and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $270 million. (NPS)

More visitors from outside the region means more money is injected into the local economy. Getting them to enter the museum from the new West-facing entrance means they may stay longer, spend more money. Locals will also enjoy the experience more.

One of the new ramps connecting the top of the Arch grounds to the riverfront
Looking forward the Old Courthouse
The mew Kiener Plaza

Will all this make a difference? That’s the hope.

In a 2012  CBS News/Vanity Fair poll the Arch was voted the least impressive of five national landmarks listed (see slide).   A significantly better experience may change perceptions.

So no, I don’t think the investment is a waste. I do think about all the other mistakes in the region and the billions (trillions?) it will take to fix them.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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