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Sunday Poll: Would a MLS Stadium be a Catalyst for St. Louis’ Downtown West Neighborhood?

December 2, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Popular Culture, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would a MLS Stadium be a Catalyst for St. Louis’ Downtown West Neighborhood?
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Last week the city’s development agency issued a glowing report about the economic value of a potential soccer stadium, and aldermanic committee approved a resolution related to a soccer stadium:

For three hours Wednesday, aldermen on the Housing Urban Development and Zoning Committee questioned the prospective team owners and their aids on the many details of the soccer proposal. They wanted to know how much money the prospective owners were putting into the deal and how much the city would be on the hook for.

Team owners said they’d cover almost the entire $392 million cost to build the stadium, although they won’t have to pay the amusement or real estate tax. And three cents will be added to every dollar spent by fans at the game, which will go to the team.

Some aldermen wanted to know how much it would cost to demolish the yet-to-be-built stadium in 30 years because the city will own it by then.

“Some of that stuff was just meant to distract and it’s sad those things continue to happen,” Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said.

The place was packed with soccer fans; it was standing room only. Everyone who spoke up supported the proposal.

“I have asked countless people in all walks of life tell me the downside of this. ‘It’s too good to be true.’ ‘What am I missing?’ The answer is simple there is no downside,” said Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin.

The proposal passed out of committee by a unanimous 8-0 vote. (Fox 2)

With the Resolution 180 out of committee, the full board voted on it on Friday:

The city Board of Aldermen overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday that outlines tax incentives for a proposed Major League Soccer stadium downtown.
The proposal passed 26 to 2, with President Lewis Reed voting yes. Megan Green, 15th Ward, and Sharon Tyus, 1st Ward, voted no. Sarah Wood Martin, 11th Ward, was absent.
“I will enthusiastically vote yes,” Alderman Scott Ogilvie, 24th Ward, said before the vote. “But I will remind everyone that our work is not done making sure this is a good and fair lease.”
 
The resolution is just a first step. It outlines the financing plan but doesn’t create the laws required to secure tax incentives. Aldermen would vote on those later — if, Mayor Lyda Krewson has said, the MLS awards St. Louis a team. (Post-Dispatch)

Now it’s up to Major League Soccer (MLS) to determine if St. Louis will be awarded one of two remaining expansion teams. Today’s non-scientific poll is a hypothetical based on being awarded a team by the MLS. It’s up to you, the reader, to define what “catalyst” means in this context. An existing highway on/off ramp — built for a long-abandoned highway loop project — would be replaced by the stadium.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll share my thoughts, along with the poll results.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How Do You Feel About The Loop Trolley Now That It Is Operating On The Full Route?

November 25, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: How Do You Feel About The Loop Trolley Now That It Is Operating On The Full Route?
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The ribbon was cut on the Loop Trolley on Thursday November 15, 2018 — the ceremony was held indoors due to the snowstorm. When it began rolling it couldn’t enter University City because of a bureaucratic snafu.  That has all been rectified and the vintage cars are now rolling on the full route.

The 2.2-mile line was a long time coming. First envisioned in 1997, various hiccups slowed St. Louis’ re-connection with its street car past. The line finally opened last week.

But opening day was thrown for a loop when University City barred the trolley cars from crossing the border from St. Louis because of permit requirements that had yet to be met.

As a result, the trolley operated only on part of the St. Louis segment of the route last weekend — between the history museum and the corner of Delmar Boulevard and Des Peres Avenue.

Gregory Rose, U. City city manager, said he gave the go-ahead to enter the city on Wednesday, after trolley officials approved a $300,000 bond to be paid to dismantle the line if the project fails. Crews also erected temporary barriers around an electric line tower. (Post-Dispatch)

I rode the Trolley yesterday — it was free for Small Business Saturday. I’ll talk about my experience on Wednesday. Today’s poll is about how you, the readers, feel about the Trolley now that’s it is finally operating.

This non-scientific poll will close at 8pm tonight. Again, on Wednesday I’ll share my experience as a passenger using a wheelchair, thoughts on the project, and these results.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Would You Take Amtrak If St. Louis Union Station Was Still Used For Trains?

November 18, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would You Take Amtrak If St. Louis Union Station Was Still Used For Trains?
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It has been over four decades since Amtrak stopped using St. Louis Union Station for passenger rail.  When it opened in 1894, replacing the original St. Louis Union Station, it had 42 tracks.

At its height, the station combined the St. Louis passenger services of 22 railroads, the most of any single terminal in the world. In the 1940s, it handled 100,000 passengers a day. The famous photograph of Harry S. Truman holding aloft the erroneous Chicago Tribune headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman”, was shot at the station as Truman headed back to Washington, D.C., from Independence, Missouri, after the 1948 Presidential election. (Wikipedia)

Amtrak, formed in 1971, used the station until a “temporary” station could be built along the tracks to the East. That began in 1978. There was a period where the Union Station’s main “headhouse” wasn’t used but trains still used the shed — the design allowed access to tracks without going through the main building.

I first came to St. Louis just 12 years after passenger rail service ended at Union Station. I had just traveled by train from Union Station in Washington DC though Union Station in Chicago to a tiny station in Kansas. There I caught a Greyhound bus back to Oklahoma City where I got my car and drove to St. Louis to take up permanent residence. However, passenger rail service had been in decline since before I was born. Interstate highways & air travel made rail service seem obsolete — hence the government’s consolidation of numerous rail companies to create Amtrak.

For 40 years rail service has been at locations other than St. Louis Union Station.  Does this make a difference when deciding how to travel?

Today’s non-scientific poll will close automatically at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll have more on this topic.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should All New Development in St. Louis be Urban or is Some Suburban OK?

November 11, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should All New Development in St. Louis be Urban or is Some Suburban OK?
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A century ago St. Louis was highly walkable with an abundance of streetcar lines, but in the last 100 years we’ve widened streets, created major interstate highways, developed suburbs not served by commuter rail, etc. In the city buildings built up to the sidewalk have been replaced by buildings set back behind parking.

All this has taken a toll on the walkability of the city:

St. Louis has an average Walk Score of 65 with 319,294 residents.

St. Louis has some public transportation and is somewhat bikeable.

The most walkable St. Louis neighborhoods are Downtown, Benton Park West and Benton Park. (WalkScore)

WalkScore says “St. Louis is Somewhat Walkable: Some errands can be accomplished on foot.”  The site combines Downtown & Downtown West into one neighborhood called…Downtown (WalkScore is 89).  Many other neighborhoods are considered car-dependent.

Today’s poll is about going forward. Namely, should we try to add urban buildings when building new or should we only do so in a few areas that are currently urban/walkable?

Today’s non-scientific poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Require Businesses To Accept Cash?

November 4, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Require Businesses To Accept Cash?
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I often get asked for change by homeless downtown, which doesn’t bother me. The thing is, I don’t use coins. The exception is I make sure I have a quarter on me for my monthly shopping trip to ALDI — to get a shopping cart. When I get home the quarter goes back into our change bowl. So when a homeless person asks me for change I’m being totally honest when I say I don’t have any on me.

This got me thinking about how I live basically a cashless life, the opposite of my brother-in-law.  Groceries is the main thing I purchase. At ALDI, Trader Joe’s, & Culinaria I use ApplePay with a rewards Visa.  At Target I show the cashier a bar code on the Target app linked to our Target MasterCard. And at Costco our membership card is our Costco Visa.  Our monthly Costco trip is the one time shopping I need to get my wallet out of my pocket and get a card out.  I usually have $5-$10 in my wallet for emergency use, but I don’t carry change.

In researching this topic I found out an increasing number of places don’t accept cash, some cities are proposing laws to force businesses to accept cash and cease cash discounts.

From July 2018:

Mobile payments. Credit cards. Digital currencies. Going cashless seems to be a worldwide trend. In Belgium, it is illegal to buy real estate with cash. Some banks in Australia have eliminated cash from their branches. Sweden has seen its use of cash drop to less than 2% of all transactions, and the number could be heading even lower in the next few years.

However, one city in the US is resisting that trend: Washington DC. In the nation’s capital cash is still king, and a new bill introduced this week wants to keep it that way. The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018 would make it illegal for restaurants and retailers not to accept cash or charge a different price to customers depending on the type of payment they use.

City councilmember David Grosso, and five other councilmembers who co-introduced the bill, are responding to the recent tide of retailers in their city and around the country – like the salad chain Sweetgreen – who are no longer accepting cash. These retailers, which mostly serve upscale customers, say that going cashless speeds up transactions, improves customer service and makes for more accurate accounting. They also argue that having less cash lying around also minimizes the risk of crime and contributes to a safer environment for both their customers and employees. (The Guardian)

There are a couple of restaurants in town I’ve stopped patronizing because one charges more when paying with plastic, the other has a minimum charge I don’t reach when eating alone.

I usually know my position before you see a poll, but I’m very torn on this subject. I love living cashless but know the struggle for those with cash, even managing a debit card is difficult for many.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight, hopefully I’ve got the settings right to adjust to the time change. Wednesday I’ll talk about my past problems managing credit, going all cash, and finally going cashless without going into debt.

— Steve Patterson

 

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