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Media Credibility Town Hall Meeting

May 2, 2009 Events/Meetings, Media Comments Off on Media Credibility Town Hall Meeting

Passing along info on an interesting meeting I can’t make tonight:

Whom do you trust
Media professionals, just like the airline industry, know that consumers have a choice when it comes to where they go for news. But in today’s complex, shifting and financially tenuous media landscape, it can be a disconcerting and daunting task to decide where to turn for news that you can trust is accurate, fair and complete.

The St. Louis chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is hosting a town hall meeting to encourage a dialogue among news listeners, readers, and viewers with the people who work for and study the media across various platforms.

St. Louis will be one of 12 sites across the country to host a dialogue during SPJ’s Ethics in Journalism Week, April 26-May 2. Pam Fine, the Knight chair in news, leadership and community at the University of Kansas’ William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will serve as moderator of the event. Practitioners and professors from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis Beacon, Saint Louis University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Webster University will talk about the multiple dimensions of credibility and hope to hear from news consumers throughout the St. Louis metro area.

The event is funded through support from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. SPJ is celebrating its 100th year of commitment to improving and protecting journalism.

What: Media credibility town hall meeting
When: 6-7:15 p.m., Saturday, May 2.
Where: AT&T Multipurpose Room, Missouri History Museum, 5700 Lindell Blvd (map).
Who: St. Louis chapter of SPJ will be hosting Pam Fine, Knight chair in news, leadership and community at the University of Kansas’ William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication, as moderator of the event with a panel of local media practitioners and professors.
Cost: Free.



New Dog Park Opens in South St. Louis Neighborhood

At noon today the Benton Park West Dog Park opened for business — bring neighbors and their dogs together.

The site selected was two city owned lots on the SE corner of Nebraska & Utah (map).  A decade ago one lot was intended as a pocket park for the neighborhood.  Some paving & benches were added.  Without ongoing positive activity, the pocket park attracted a bad element.  The old lot and the adjacent lot were fenced in to create the dog park.

Now neighbors have a reason to come to this corner — to let their dogs play with other dogs off leash.

The two combined lots are 58ft x 128ft.  All but a wedge from the corner is fenced.  The old concrete paving from the pocket park was retained.  There are four benches inside the dog park.

Access is for members only.  Annual membership is only $35 for residents ($15 per additional dog). Not a resident of Benton Park West but want to become a member?  Submit your application (PDF) now.  First memberships go to neighborhood residents but it will soon be opened to others.  The annual fee will be slightly higher for non-residents. Members get the code to the outer gate to the vestibule entry.

I don’t have a pet of any kind.  And when I did it was always a cat.  But I love dog parks.  They have a great way of bringing neighbors together.  They create activity  in places that might otherwise only have illicit activity.

Water is one of the required items.  This fountain serves humans and their doggy companions.  The city has regulations regarding the requirements for dog parks — fencing, surface, water, managing organization, etc.  President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed, when he was 6th Ward Alderman, introduced the legislation to set up the process for dog parks throughout the city.

Reed, above, was on hand for the opening.

Alderman Craig Schmid (left) shakes hands with Bill Byrd (right), President of the Benton Park West Neighborhood Association at the opening.  Schmid used ward funds to help with infrastructure costs.  Newly sworn in 25th Ward Alderman Shane Cohn was present for the opening.  Hopefully we’ll see a new dog park in the 25th ward in the future.

Actually I hope we will see dog parks in every ward, in every neighborhood in the city.  We no longer walk to the local commercial district so neighborhoods need a way to get residents out walking and talking.  Dog parks are one of the best ways to accomplish that.    My congrats to the residents of Benton Park West for making this project happen.

Further reading & helpful documents:

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Neighbors in Fountain Park Neighborhood Continue Organizing

Few neighborhoods symbolize St. Louis as well as Fountain Park (map). The once densely filled neighborhood retains much of the feel it would have in the 19th Century.

The namesake park is beautifully scaled.  The gently curving street pleasantly deviates from the street grid.

But for the last half century the neighborhood has had some of the same issues faced by others: fewer residents, fewer businesses, a concentration of lower income residents and nuisance crimes.  Stately homes with owners unable to afford increasing maintenance costs.

Despite its issues, the neighborhood remains appealing.  Efforts continue to reverse its fortunes.


Neighbors plan to meet with city officials this Saturday (4/18/09) at Centenial Church (4950 Fountain), 10am.  This is a neighborhood worth fighing for.


Downtown Gets Yet Another Plaza

Today (4/3/09) at 4pm Mayor Slay will officially open The Old Post Office Plaza. This is more open space in a downtown with too much open space but not enough quality urban public space.  And though it may look like it, this plaza is not public.

This 3/4-acre plaza is owned, not by the city, but Downtown Now/The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis.  The plaza is to the North of the Old Post Office, across Locust between 8th & 9th (map).

Don’t confuse this new private plaza with the private plaza one block East, that unused plaza will soon become another parking garage.

The plaza is considered a key piece of the emerging Old Post Office Square, which includes the renovated Old Post Office building across the street at 815 Olive St. and Roberts Brothers Properties’ planned $70 million, 24-story residential tower adjacent to the Roberts-owned Mayfair Hotel at Locust and Eighth streets. (source, August 2007)

The plaza’s designers, BSN Architects of Toronto, describe the project:

The winner of an invited architectural competition, this new public Plaza celebrates the adjacent historic Old Post Office of St. Louis and actively engages the surrounding urban form.  A dramatic three dimensional armature is proposed to provide substantive user amenity and involve the public in the unfolding urban drama of the revitalized downtown. Its morphology incorporates surrounding built features into a dynamic stage for public life inspired by an operatic interpretation of the myth of Daedalus and Icarus.

Yes, some architects actually talk like that.

A year ago the project hit a snag which delayed completion:

Underground construction debris has caused design changes and a three-month delay of the Old Post Office Plaza.

Construction crews working on the $8.2 million Old Post Office Plaza at Ninth and Locust streets downtown hit a snag in recent months when they uncovered concrete, steel and other debris beneath the ground.

The St. Nicholas Hotel, built in the 1850s, was formerly located on the site. The hotel was demolished in 1974, but remnants were left behind. “They simply let it collapse into the ground,” said Kozeny-Wagner President Pat Kozeny. “There’s structural steel, even the building’s elevator.” (source, March 2008)

In August 2008 construction was well underway:

A couple of days ago it now looked like:

As you can see it is mostly a hard surface plaza.  This, I believe, is appropriate for an urban context.  Except for the fact we already have the Arch grounds, Kiener Plaza, Gateway Mall, Baer Plaza, etc…  We need less open space to help create more urban space.  This block, like all the others, used to be filled with buildings.

When it came time to renovate the Old Post Office a 2nd time, the need for immediately adjacent parking was cited by potential tenants.  So although this site existed to the North of the Old Post Office, we instead raze the marble-clad Century Building which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Some said a garage could not be built on this site.  I say BS.

Hardscape plazas can be interesting.  No doubt Dundas Square (Wikipedia, map) in Toronto was an inspiration:

Above: Dundas Square in July 2006
Dundas Square is a wonderful urban space – very dynamic.  When I visited Toronto in July 2006 my hotel was just a couple of blocks away.  I saw the space on normal days as well as packed for a large annual event.
I haven’t been in the Old Post Office Plaza yet because it has been fenced off as construction was being completed.  I’m looking forward to experiencing the space this afternoon.  I did roll by along the sidewalk on the South edge:
It is shiny & new.  It is more interesting than the old collection of surface parking lots.  But from the outside looking in I could see (not see?) one glaring omission: bike parking.  Holding large events in a vibrant urban area naturally draws crowds on bikes.  Well designed spaces make sure cyclists have a place to secure their bikes.  Such was the case at Dundas Square:

Yet this new $8 million + facility doesn’t have a single bike rack that I could see.  I guess everyone is expected to drive to the plaza to help justify the garage that replaced the historic Century Building?

The ribbon cutting is 4pm today with activities this weekend.


Mayoral Candidates Make Their Case at Debate

Three of the four candidates for St. Louis Mayor participated in a 90 minute debate before a large crowd at the St. Louis Public Library last evening (3/30/09).  I was in the front row for the event, Twittering (@UrbanReviewSTL) the entire time.  The Libertarian candidate didn’t show!

I briefly talked with Mayor Francis Slay, Elston McCowan and Maida Coleman prior to the debate and again immediately following the debate.  I gave all three to tell the voters why we should vote for them on Tuesday April 7, 2009.  This video is under 2 minutes:


The election is a week from today.

A few readers introduced themselves to me at the event. I always enjoy meeting my audience so if you see me somewhere be sure to say hello.