February 20, 2017Downtown, Featured, ParksComments Off on New Arch To Riverfront Ramps Are A Great Improvement
When I first moved to St. Louis in August 1990 the grand staircase down to our riverfront wasn’t complete — it was grass with steps only on the North & South edges. At some point the center steps were completed.But even as a young (20s) able-bodied person the steps were a pain. I recall one time, in the early 90s visiting the Arch grounds with my parents & grandfather — in their early 60s & mid-90s, respectively, The steps were a huge problem.
This weekend I visited the Arch grounds twice — along on Saturday and with my husband on Sunday. Both days I did all four of the new ramps connecting the upper Arch grounds to Lenore K Sullivan Blvd on the riverfront.
I saw many people using the new ramps both days, but nobody else in a wheelchair. Users were all ages, some were biking, others walking their dogs, some pushing baby strollers, most just out with family and/or friends.
The Arch & grounds were designed at a time when the disabled were institutionalized — not independent members of the community. Ramps just weren’t done back then. Today, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, those of us who are disabled are better able to live independent lives.
These four ramps, plus the connection next to the Eads Bridge, make getting to/from the riverfront a pleasure.
Last month my husband and I finally visited the National Blues Museum, just a 15 minute walk from our loft. The museum opened in April 2016, but we never got around to visiting until recently. First, we had lunch a Sugarfire Smoke House located in the same building at 6th & Washington.
I’ve been a vegetarian for a quarter century now, but I have no problem eating at BBQ places — as long as they offer something like a portobello sandwich. Smart BBQ places do.
The museum isn’t large, but it’s well-organized. The displays and signage is fresh looking.
There was a concert later in the evening, our tickets would’ve gotten into that as well. I’ll keep that in mind — will plan our next visit, followed by dinner and a blues concert.
Very glad to see the museum completed, I was a sceptic when I first heard the concept.
The 2nd subsection defines a parking station as a parking lot. the 3rd discusses a permit:
No person, firm or corporation shall operate, maintain or conduct a parking station in the City without first obtaining a parking station permit from the Building Commissioner. A permit must be obtained for each parking station and no permit shall be transferable from one person to another nor transferable from one lot to another.
The Building Commissioner may order barricades for any or all parking stations not in full compliance within one hundred and eighty days from the date of original notification.
Here are three later sections:
8.70.070 – Permit—Suspension or revocation—Hearing. The building commissioner may refer any permit heretofore issued to the board of public service with the recommendation that a hearing be held to determine whether the permit should be suspended or revoked. The board shall designate a day for the hearing, and after considering the evidence and arguments submitted, may suspend or revoke the permit and license heretofore issued, upon proof of any of the following:
A. The operator has knowingly made any false or materially incorrect statement in his application;
B. The operator has made any charge for parking in excess of the rate posted on the required sign;
C. The operator fails to keep an attendant on duty during the times specified in his application; and
D. The operator has knowingly violated or knowingly permitted or countenanced the violation of any provision of this chapter.
See also §§ 8.70.090, 8.70.110 8.70.080 – Permit—Suspension or revocation—Barricading lot. Upon suspension or revocation by the board of public service the police department shall upon notice by the building commissioner barricade the parking lot until further notice. No lot barricaded as herein provided shall be used for the purposes of a parking station.
(Ord. 55061 § 1 (part), 1968: 1960 C. § 388.150 (part).) 8.70.090 – Annual inspection fee. The building commissioner shall make or cause to be made an inspection at least once a year of every parking station within the city to ascertain whether the station is operated within the provisions of this chapter. An annual inspection fee shall be payable on the first day of January each year in accordance with the capacity of the parking station as follows:
A. Under ten cars, seven dollars;
B. Ten to fifty cars, fifteen dollars;
C. All over fifty cars, twenty dollars;
Except these fees shall not be deemed to apply or be applicable to parking lots or parking stations operated by a church solely and exclusively for church parking.
All inspection fees shall be paid within thirty days of billing date after which time they shall become delinquent, which shall because for revocation of the parking station permit.
So I did a Sunshine Request asking for a copy of the most recent permit. The response? “We don’t do that anymore.” Really? Can a city department just decide not to follow city ordinances?
All the ordinances listed in the various subsections of 8.70 were enacted prior to them being online, 1963-1979. So I went to the 3rd floor of the central library and looked up each and every ordinance. Fascinating documents up there! Anyway, in 1968 the original 1963 section was repealed & replaced. After changes were minor, dealing with the amount of the permit fee. The first such change came months after being enacted.
In another sunshine request I asked who made the decision to ignore this law, and when. The city didn’t have an answer. I suspect it was in the 1980s, which would explain how the owner of the parking lot at 1101 Locust got away with using public right-of-way (PROW) for years.
The URL for this section includes the word PAST after the chapter number (https://www.municode.com/library/mo/st._louis/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TIT8BUTALIRE_CH8.70PAST), but it’s still listed. I wasn’t able to locate an ordinance repealing it. It looks like a valid regulation that has simply been ignored by the building division for years, possibly longer than anyone currently working there. Did a past administration direct the building division to ignore this ordinance to make St. Louis more friendly to parking lot businesses?
I just don’t know. What I do know is that my inquires finally got long-needed action next door. Again, on August 30th, I published the awful generic letters the city sent the out of town owners for the last couple of years.
Again, on August 30th I published the awful generic letters the city sent the out of town owners for the last couple of years. Right after that I had phone conversations & emails with a defensive building department. I began digging and submitting sunshine requests.
Meanwhile, I continued emailing with the building department because no permit was listed online. Permit isn’t required for maintenance, they say. I email David Newburger, commissioner on the disabled, to make sure he’s reviewed the plan, disabled spaces, signs, etc. He has nothing to review.
I complained again and the short spaces were removed…again. The last few years trying to get this parking lot maintained has been eye opening. I naively thought reporting it to the Citizen’s Service Bureau a few years ago would get it resolved fairly quickly — boy was I wrong! I thought the main obstacle was the owner and/or operator. Turned out it was the Building Division,, who seem to defend the operators and fight tax paying property owners.
The city has many departments/divisions. I assume some are worse, most better. The next mayor needs to clean it up, fixing the existing culture. Unless repealed, the permit process for parking lots needs to be upheld.
The building at 620 Market, like most, has had numerous uses since it was first built, I recall attending a meeting at East-West Gateway when they were on the 2nd floor — back in the 90s. The most recent occupant was Mike Shannon’s restaurant, which closed January 30, 2016.
When St. Louis’ Chinatown, known as Hop Alley, was razed in the 1960s for Busch Stadium (1966-2006), a 35 ft height restriction was placed on the 620 Market deed. A taller building could have allowed occupants to look down into the new stadium. For a decade now the replacement Busch Stadium has been to the South and the old site a slowly developing mixed-use project between the Cardinals & developer Cordish, called Ballpark Village. Ironically, Phase 2 of Ballpark Village will include a tall building where occupants can look down into the current stadium.
Meanwhile, Mike Shannon has been trying to sell 620 Market. I’m sure, for the right price, he could find buyers willing to accept the 35 ft height restriction. Like anyone who owns real estate, he correctly views the substantial public & private investment in Ballpark Village as increasing the value of his property. Shannon’s former employer, the Cardinals, don’t want to agree to lifting the height restriction unless they get a say in what may replace the current building. See Messenger: Mike Shannon takes on the Cardinals in battle to sell his building.
Q: Agree or disagree? Cardinals/Cordish should get to approve/reject proposals for Shannon’s site in exchange for releasing 35ft height restriction.
Strongly agree 1 [4%]
Agree 0 [0%]
Somewhat agree 3 [12%]
Neither agree or disagree 4 [16%]
Somewhat disagree 1 [4%]
Disagree 6 [24%]
Strongly disagree 9 [36%]
Unsure/No Answer 1 [4%]
I’d forgotten to uncheck the option allowing user-entered answers, I turned it off after the first, which read: “no subsidy for Cordish unless restriction lifted” Agreed, but that should read ‘no ADDITIONAL subsidy for Cordish unless restriction lifted’.
This is another demonstration of failed urban design policy in St. Louis. Within the central business district the only regulation on height of new construction should be minimum height — not maximum. Issues such as heights and design could easily be addressed within a form-based code, replacing our 1940s use-based code. Even a form-based overlay for Ballpark Village and surrounding a decade ago would’ve been a good idea.
St. Louis would rather battle parcel by parcel rather than determine a larger vision through a public process. Great for those in control, bad for creating a healthy city.
When I first moved to St. Louis in August 1990 the grand staircase down to our riverfront wasn’t complete — it was grass with steps only on the North & South edges. At some point the center steps were completed.But even as a young (20s) able-bodied person the steps were ...
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