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National ADA Symposium and Expo Assistive Technology Consumer Fair Monday & Tuesday

May 11, 2008 Accessibility, Events/Meetings Comments Off on National ADA Symposium and Expo Assistive Technology Consumer Fair Monday & Tuesday

I would have been interested beforehand but now that I am disabled I’m very interested in the National ADA Symposium and Expo Assistive Technology Consumer Fair to be held Monday & Tuesday:

May 12-13, 2008
Downtown St. Louis, America’s Center

Paraquad and ADA Great Plains Center are pleased to announce the National ADA Symposium and Expo and the Assistive Technology Consumer Fair are collaborating on this joint event.
The Assistive Technology Fair will educate and empower consumers of assistive technology devices, equipment, products, and services to promote community participation and independent living.  This is the only show of its kind in the Midwest.
There is a wealth of products and services that enable people with disabilities to live life to its fullest.  The AT Fair provides community members with information on disability-related services and opportunities to try new products.
The AT Fair is free to the public and will be held in Hall 1 of the America’s Center from 12:00pm-8:00pm Monday, May 12th and from 9:00am-4:00pm Tuesday, May 13th.
The AT Fair is hosted by the Enabling Mobility Center, MS Society, Paraquad, and the Spinal Cord Injury Support Group.

For more information see atfair.org.  Come out and see everything from vans with slide out ramps to can openers for those of us with only one good hand.  Once you see some the products that are out there you begin to realize how much you take for granted.


Parking Nightmare on Halliday Continues!

It has been nearly a year now that residents of one block in the Tower Grove East neighborhood have been dealing with a paved front yard that just won’t go away. Sadly the saga continues. Yet another hearing is scheduled before the board of Adjustment on Wednesday afternoon at City Hall (1:30pm, room 200).

Initially the developer just paved the front yard of the property without proper permits. Since then numerous meetings have been held between residents that objected to having a neighbor’s front yard be nothing but parking. The compromise was to be angled on-street parking. The developer and alderman Conway were pushing for the city to vacate part of the street so that real estate could be deeded to each of the four condo units — a bad idea.  I think someone from the city this would br bad policy so that pu the developer back at trying to pave the front yard for parking — this time applying for a permit in advance.

Currently the space remains unplanted and filled with gravel — condo residents are parking on the gravel area.

This is what we gey when we allow aldermen to play development consultant.


Title Loan Outfit Proposed for Former McDonald’s Location

One of the hot topics from 2006 was the proposal to relocate a McDonald’s location (w/double drive-thru) to back up to the Gravois Park neighborhood along South Grand. After a long battle, that plan was scraped. The owner shuttered the old McDonald’s at Grand & Chippewa.

The property sold last year and now a title loan company (or similar?) is proposed for the existing building and drive-thru. I’m told the same company is also interested in opening in the former Wendy’s at South Kingshighway and Tholozan. Neighbors of both properties are mobilizing to oppose what they see as loan sharks that prey on the poorest in our society.

Tomorrow morning at 8:30am, in room 208 of City Hall, a hearing will be held on conditional occupancy of the former McDonald’s location (along with other agenda items). Ald Florida (D-15th) is said to neither support nor oppose the application.


Gateway Mall: Nothin’ New to See

IMG_9711.JPGOn December 12th I told you an announcement was coming in January for the Gateway Mall (see post). Well, Monday was the day with a press conference on the 12th Floor of the lovely Civic Courts building — between 11th and Tucker smack dab in the middle of the Gateway Mall. The big announcement? Nothing!
Despite claims of new items by Rollin Stanley, the city’s Director of Planning who is taking a new job in the DC region next month, we already knew about the 2-block sculpture garden. That would be the one announced before the city asked the public for feedback on the master plan for the too long space (see post from June 11, 2007). We also knew that The Lawrence Group was looking at doing a couple of blocks around their project, The Park Pacific.

Did the Lawrence Group get funding worked out to do those two blocks? Nope. Maybe someone else stepped up to do another area? Nope. Perhaps something new to announce around the sculpture garden? Nope. Well, Mayor Slay indicated a couple of pieces have been purchased by the Gateway Foundation but that doesn’t justify a news conference.

But I was there and took photos and video so I put together a 10-minute video which includes various speakers as well as a collection of images taken from the 12th floor promenade at Civil Courts:


CD’s were handed out with the Master Plan on them in a single PDF file. Interestingly the cover and the file on the CD both indicate October 2007. Again, nothing new, although I don’t recall them having the full document available before. Still, I think they’ve had it for months and held onto it until now to drag this into 2008 and timed it just before Stanley’s departure. The city has the PDF available at http://stlouis.missouri.org/citygov/planning/gatewaymall/STLouisGatewayMallMasterPlan.pdf.

The conceptual plan still has lots of bells and whistles — lots of little activity centers strung together by a sidewalk that is supposed to draw us along the path for blocks and blocks.  These unfunded spaces will be so compelling that we will get international attention — people will come from all over the world just to see them.  Well, maybe a few blocks will get that sort of attention.  They are also supposed to draw loft residents, like myself, over to the mall.  Unfortunately, that is time where we are not over on Washington, Locust or in other places downtown spending money in shops and restaurants.

Stanley brought out the late 60s argument that we have too many streets — talking about how little space is green relative to street pavement.  Their solution is not to narrow Chestnut, as should be done, but close it entirely.  The plan also calls for the removal of short term on-street parking along the North side of Market.  Taking the place of on-street parking will be a bike lane — a two direction bike lane.  A curb will separate cars on Market from an 8ft wide bike lane.  Still, a bike lane is not something you can do two blocks at a time so I have to wonder what will become of that space along the sculpture park in the meantime?  Will they remove the parking now and do a temporary bike lane without the protection of the curb?  The big issue is creating traffic signals in such a way that permit cyclist movement that is not in conflict with turning vehicles. In such a relatively short distance, I think the 2-way bike lane will prove to be another failed experiment.

The press conference offered me a chance to get my camera to the top of the building to take advantage of some great views.  But next time guys, actually have something new to share.


Marine Villa Neighborhood to hold Officer Elections Tonight (1/28/2008)

A small neighborhood group holding elections for officers might not seem like news to most of you. However, to residents of this part of South City, it has been a long time coming. Last year residents were finally able to obtain a copy of the 1969 bylaws (view pdf) which do in fact call for annual elections after a nominating committee collects the names of those interested in running.

Alderman Craig Schmid, whose 20th ward covers only about a 1/3 of the neighborhood, lives within the boundaries and has been President of the organization for at least the last six years.  In that time nobody has ever ran against him for the job of President, although the election process outlined in the bylaws had not been followed either.  Supports of Schmid will gladly tell you he has been instrumental in reducing problems in the neighborhood.   Opponents will argue that Schmid can be too authoritarian.

Tonight’s meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Peterson Auditorium of St. Alexius Hospital (enter on Osage Street), 3833 S. Broadway.  The Marine Villa website lists the following nominations:

(President) Mike Siculan
(Vice-President) Eddie Brauer
(Corresponding Secretary) Susan Sheppard
(Recording Secretary) Pam Lanning
(Treasurer) Mike Ferguson
(Sergeant at Arms) John Oberkramer and Rod Cook

It would appear that Schmid and others who have long controlled the organization are bowing out rather than face a strong opposition — doing a Blunt if you will.   I’m predicting a smooth transition of power.