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Sunday Poll: Which Location Would You Pick For A Soccer Stadium?

October 30, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Midtown, Popular Culture, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Which Location Would You Pick For A Soccer Stadium?
Please vote below
Please vote below

The NFL has left, but major league soccer (MLS) is interested in St. Louis.

There are at least two potential MLS ownership groups in St. Louis.

They include Foundry St. Louis, which has already identified property at the northwest corner of Chouteau Avenue and Grand Boulevard for stadium development, and MLS2STL, whose representatives are adamant the stadium site should be downtown. (Post-Dispatch)

The downtown site would technically be in Downtown West — just West of Union Station.

So today’s non-scientific poll seeks to figure out where the readership thinks a dedicated soccer stadium is best placed, if at all. There are many pros & cons to both possible locations.

The poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


Generic Form Letters Mailed To Owners Of Poorly Maintained Surface Parking Lot Notifying Them Of Code Violations

August 30, 2016 Downtown, Featured, Parking 17 Comments

In May I posted about the parking lot to the East of my condo building, see Deplorable Surface Parking Lot At 1601 Locust Cited, Fined. The next month I submitted a request to the city for copies of the notice(s) sent to the owner. I’ve finally received  them.

Standing water in some of the many holes in the paving, August 23rd
Standing water in some of the many holes in the paving, August 23rd

Here’s the timeline:

  • Friday June 3 @ 9:09am: Emailed request to St. Louis’ centralized custodian of records.
  • Wednesday June 8 @ 4:43pm:  Reply from the city acknowledging the request, describing the process. “We anticipate completing this process during the week of June 13, 2016.”
  • Tuesday June 21 @ 10:03am: I replied to followup on the status.
  • Friday August 12 @ 11:02am: I replied again, but copied Maggie Crane in the mayor’s office, I wrote: “It’s been nearly three (3) months since my request was made. Guess I’ll have to file a complaint with the state…”
  • Friday August 12 @ 11:46am: I received a reply from the custodian of records: “I apologize for the delay in getting back to you regarding your above-referenced Sunshine Law request. I appreciate your patience in this matter. Attached are the responsive documents.”

I was initially encouraged when I found out the city had centralized the request process, as opposed to having a person in each department be familiar with Missouri’s Sunshine Law and ensure compliance. I was disappointed I didn’t receive a response by the date they said I would. I was upset when I didn’t get a reply to my followup email. By the time I remembered in mid-August I was furious.  I should’ve copied someone else on my initial followup of June 21st.  Lesson learned.

Cars overhanging & parked on the public sidewalk, August 23rd
Cars overhanging & parked on the public sidewalk, August 23rd

Here are the documents I received:

I now know the name of the building inspector, we’ve talked by phone and are communicating. I’ve asked if the owner is being fined and if it can be sent to court for prosecution of the violations. I’m not an expert in these matters, but I don’t think mailing letters to an LLC in Illinois regarding a surface parking lot with the first sentence that reads “Thank you for choosing to live in the City of St. Louis” is an effective strategy.

I didn’t want to do this, but yesterday morning I emailed Carl Phillips at Parking Enforcement and asked them to warn/ticket people who end up over/on the sidewalk. After lunch I went out and the same two cars from 6 days earlier had something under their wiper.

Looking North
Looking North
Looking South
Looking South

Hopefully drivers will start paying attention, or will park elsewhere. If the owners lose enough business perhaps they’ll take action.

— Steve Patterson






Readers: Aquarium A Good Fit For Union Station

I’ve never been to an aquarium before, but I know they’re popular attractions.  We recently spent the day at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, next to their Shedd Aquarium.  Shedd’s ticket prices range from $8/adult ($6/child) to $54.95/adult ($45.95/child). I assume most but the $37.95/28.95 “total experience” ticket, it allows you to see everything but you must wait in lines.

For years I’d heard about the World Aquarium, located within City Museum. Now it’s in Laclede’s Landing. Adult admission, for comparison, is only $6.

The new aquarium will be in addition to the existing:

St. Louis Aquarium will be a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, LHM said. The facility will employ marine biologists and aquarists to care for the creatures displayed and oversee water chemistry, animal nutrition, veterinary duties, education, staffing and safety.

The association, based in Silver Spring, Md., has more than 230 members. Among them is the Butterfly House, which opened in 1998 in Chesterfield and, since 2001, has been a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

The aquarium, expected to get a million visitors annually, will be a draw for school groups as well as an entertainment destination, LHM said. An 8,500-square-foot event space with the shark tank as a backdrop will be available for weddings, social gatherings and corporate parties. (Post-Dispatch)

As with zoos, I question the ethics of keeping wild animals in captivity for our amusement.

The former food court and retail spaces under the train shed had a decidedly mall feel, October 2011
The former food court and retail spaces under the train shed had a decidedly mall feel, October 2011

The results of the non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: An aquarium in the former shopping mall area is a good fit for Union Station

  • Strongly agree 13 [27.08%]
  • Agree 11 [22.92%]
  • Somewhat agree 7 [14.58%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.08%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [4.17%]
  • Disagree 6 [12.5%]
  • Strongly disagree 6 [12.5%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.17%]

I voted for “somewhat agree”, but it depends on the execution, admission price, etc. I’m more excited about the new hotel rooms to be built within the clock tower!

— Steve Patterson


Cobra Heads Shine Light Up Into Our 4th Floor Windows

Street lights are important for safety, so motorists and pedestrians can see better at night. Good lighting can help reduce crime. Sadly, most cities, including St. Louis, have bad lighting. Instead of lighting the road and sidewalks we also light up the night sky.

The International Dark-Sky Association estimates that 1/3 of all lighting is wasted at an annual cost of $2.2 BILLION dollars. The light projected directly upwards from a cobra-head streetlight is about 30% of the total light it emits! (James Mason University/John C. Wells Planetarium: Light Pollution: The Overuse & Misuse of Artificial Light at Night)

Our loft is on the 4th floor of our building, our windows don’t directly face Locust St. Still, a cobra head light across the street blasts our uncovered windows with light every night.

Looking South from our balcony toward Locust St, two cobra head lights can be seen -- one per side
Looking South from our balcony toward Locust St, two cobra head lights can be seen — one per side
This cropped version narrows down to the two lights
This cropped version narrows down to the two lights
Cropping again you can see
Cropping again you can see

The solution is to replace the old cobra head lights with more efficient LED lights, right?

The new plan for security was put in place before the recent robberies. It calls for four more surveillance cameras, license plate recognition cameras, and brighter street lights.

“What we want now are the surveillance cameras that have red and blue flashing lights on them so that people realize they are on camera and that is a really critical next step to make people realize this is a watched area,” said Missy Kelley with Downtown St. Louis, Inc.

The plan calls for all 3,000 downtown street lights to be replaced with LED lights that are brighter.

“Change out all of the cobra head lights downtown to LED lights which are brighter and whiter and will splash back onto the sidewalk. They will light the streets but also light the sidewalks,” Kelley said.

Areas around the Busch Stadium, the Peabody Opera House and Scottrade Center will see the new lighting first. (More security measures coming to downtown St. Louis)

The word “brighter” was used three times in the above quote. But, again, LEDs are the solution, right?

Not necessarily says the International Dark-Sky Association — they detail five myths about LED streetlights:

  • Myth #1: The use of LEDs reduces light pollution and is “good for dark skies” because they’re highly energy efficient.
  • Myth #2: The use of LEDs reduces light pollution and is “good for dark skies” because they make it easier to control where the light lands on the ground.
  • Myth #3: LED lighting increases traffic safety
  • Myth #4: LED lighting improves security by discouraging crime.
  • Myth #5: Energy savings from LEDs automatically means a lower carbon footprint, which is better for the environment.

Just like most regions, we’re replacing bright cobra heads that scattered light in all directions with brighter LEDs that scatter more light in slightly less directions. Brighter isn’t necessarily better or even safer.

— Steve Patterson




Sunday Poll: Aquarium A Good Fit For Union Station?

Please vote below
Please vote below

Last week LHM, owners of Union Station, announced plans to add an aquarium as par of the remake of the property. The 1985 mall under the train shed failed, but the hotel portion has continued to do well.

Developers are planning to build a $45 million aquarium is [sic] Union Station near downtown St. Louis and they say it will feature one of the largest collections of sharks in the Midwest.

The 75,000-square-foot St. Louis Aquarium will display thousands of aquatic species, such as stingrays and fish in 1 million gallons of water in the complex’s former mall area. A planned v-shaped rope bridge will suspend visitors above the shark tank. It will also include a gift shop, 8,500- square-feet of private event space with the shark tank as a backdrop, and possibly a themed restaurant in the old Houlihan’s space. (An aquarium for St. Louis is part of the redesign for Union Station’s former mall)

Thinking many of you have opinions, it’s the poll topic this week.

The poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson