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Readers: Year Later Conditions ‘Slightly Better’ In Ferguson

August 12, 2015 Ferguson, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on Readers: Year Later Conditions ‘Slightly Better’ In Ferguson

In the Sunday Poll readers indicated conditions were “slightly better” than they were just before Mike Brown was shot a year earlier. Protests, rightly so, continue because conditions are only slightly better, rather than significantly better.   And criminals use the protests as an opportunity to cause chaos.

Aside from the political & institutional, the physical isn’t much better. Most buildings burned are now just vacant sites. Only one was rebuilt.

Public Storage office at 9291 W. Florissant in August 2014
Public Storage office at 9291 W. Florissant in August 2014
Same after the late night decision to not indict Wilson, November 2014
Same after the late night decision to not indict Wilson, November 2014
Not sure when this new office was completed. photo: August 7, 2015
Not sure when this new office was completed. photo: August 7, 2015

The results:

Q: It’s been a year since Mike Brown was shot in Ferguson. How would you rate conditions today compared to just prior to his death?

  1. Slightly better 16 [44.44%]
  2. Unchanged 7 [19.44%]
  3. Significantly worse 4 [11.11%]
  4. Slightly worse 3 [8.33%]
  5. TIE 3 [8.33%]
    1. Worse
    2. Other:
      1. better in what way?
      2. Tougher for the lawmakers; open season for the law breakers.
      3. Same, but with more awareness of how bad conditions are
  6. TIE 0 [0%]
    1. Better
    2. Significantly better
    3. Unsure/No Answer

The current conditions are institutionalized and will take decades to change.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: How would you rate conditions today compared to just prior to Mike Brown’s death?

One year ago today Michael Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. For today’s poll, a barometer of how things stand today compared to a year ago.

Please vote below, the answers are presented in random order. The “conditions” are left up to you to interpret.


The poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


Readers: Remove/Change The Confederate Memorial

First, let me apologize for the lack of posts Monday & Tuesday, our new fiber optic internet in our building went out last Saturday night. Our building’s IT provider didn’t get it fixed until after 4pm yesterday.

Sunday the poll software didn’t automatically close the poll at 8pm like I had set it to do. As a result, the poll stayed open until I noticed it Monday morning — closing it via my smartphone. That said, the percentages are roughly the same as they were at 8pm the night before:

Q: What should St. Louis do about the confederate memorial & street name in Forest Park?

  1. Change the street name & remove the memorial from Forest Park 20 [28.17%]
  2. TIE: 14 [19.72%]
    1. Do nothing
    2. Change the street name & supplement the memorial with additional information
  3. Change the street name, leave the memorial in Forest Park 11 [15.49%]
  4. Leave the street name, supplement the memorial with additional information 10 [14.08%]
  5. TIE: 1 [1.41%]
    1. Unsure/no answer
    2. Other: Change the street name and move the memorial History Museum grounds 
  6. Leave the street name, remove the memorial from Forest Park 0 [0%]

The “do nothing” vote was less than 20%, conversely those who wanted change of some type was more than 78%. This is a great opportunity for a public process to brainstorm possible solutions that’ll help us reach a consensus. Last week I visited the confederate memorial to check it out, I’ve lived here almost 25 years and didn’t know about it until recently.

I also asked landscape architect Eären Hummel for her thoughts, which were:

  • I think there should be a dialog, rather than a reactionary move. Further, I don’t think the monument should have been placed there to begin with.
  • City parks are meant to be places for all people to have a respite away from their busy lives, I think a park is no place for a confederate memorial, especially without the balance of a union memorial. That may sound “politically correct”. A civil rights garden could be created of the area, if the process is inclusive of all the players that civil rights – or lack there of – has affected. Whatever is done, I think it is important that it is not just a bandage, but true dialog.
  • As far as I can tell, there is no monument to the Union soldiers in St. Louis, nor a Civil Rights monument/memorial other than the “Naked Truth” sculpture at the Compton water tower. And that is really a monument to 3 German men, and not really for the cause of civil rights. Meaning there is not civil rights memorial significant to African-Americans.
  • The lack of other memorials in St. Louis, I think speaks volumes about the attitudes of the people of StL. Reinforcing the notion of white supremacy, everyday racism… It is the ongoing issues that were raised in Ferguson last summer, but have since fallen silent. Personally, I think focusing on removing flags or memorials skirts around the true issues and are only platitudes to quiet the cries of racism.
  • One thing that greatly bothers me about the monument, is the statement on it about the “battle to preserve the independence of the states…” The war was fought over slavery, as very clearly stated in the southern states on declarations. It was treason. The statement on the monument is revisionist history of the “lost cause”. That I find offensive and reprehensible. For that alone, I wish the monument was not there as it perpetuates erroneous “history”.
  • I would leave the language as is, but definitely have a panel next to it explaining that it is wrong, and why many people wanted to rewrite the history of the war.
  • It is a beautifully crafted monument by a notable sculptor.
  • I believe a civil rights garden could be sensitively incorporated into the park. There have been numerous additions to the park over the years.

I agree the memorial represents revisionist history and shouldn’t have been built. Let’s take a look…

The confederate memorial was dedicated in 1914, rededicated in 1964. Click image for more information
The 32 foot high confederate memorial was dedicated in 1914, rededicated in 1964. Click image for more information
The sculpture is by George Julian Zolnay,
The sculpture is by George Julian Zolnay, Click image to read about him on Wikipedia
The words on the south face
The words on the south face
I could't read the revisionist  text on the north face
I could’t read the revisionist text on the north face
Confederate Dr is in poor condition
Confederate Dr is in poor condition, the memorial is on the right

Renaming, or even removing, Confederate Dr is a given — relatively easy. The memorial is a much more complicated issue. The words are offensive, but it is a good reminder of St. Louis’ race problem. I think we should discuss the creation of a civil rights garden that would educate visitors on events from our history, for example:

There are many more that could be included in a civil rights garden, these could all be told.

— Steve Patterson



Significantly Reducing Access Points To Public Transit Isn’t Fair, Just, or Equitable

In a guest piece in the St. Louis American 20th Ward Ald. Cara Spencer makes a passionate plea for expanding MetroLink light rail:

The St. Louis region needs a high-quality light rail system to connect Florissant/Ferguson and our densely populated South Side to Downtown and the Central Corridor. Now is the time to push for economic investment to help stabilize some of the city and county’s most vulnerable communities. We should be demanding that our local leaders prioritize North Side/South Side MetroLink expansion as imperative to making St. Louis a progressive and economically just metropolitan area.

Public transportation speaks volumes about a society. Lack of transportation is an indicator of economic injustice and is the number one deterrent to employment and community involvement across the country. (St. Louis American)

Would light rail be more “just”?  Those who don’t actually use public transit on a daily basis may think so, but the reality is the opposite.

Map currently being circulated
Map currently being circulated, click image to view larger PDF in Scribd.

The above map is from the North South MetroLink Expansion Facebook page.


Currently to get from downtown (14th & Spruce) to Ferguson and the Florissant Valley Community College there are two options:

  1. #74 (Florissant) MetroBus is the most direct option. This takes 1 hour and 1 minute with up to 68 potential stops along the way.  That’s a long time, I’ve done it many times in the last year.
  2. MetroLink (Red) to Hanley Station plus #36 (Spanish Lake) MetroBus.  This option takes a total of 1 hour and 2 minutes. This route is 23 minutes on light rail with 10 stops, 10 minutes between modes, and 29 minutes on bus with up to 40 stops.  I’vc also done this a few times.
The two primary choices for getting from downtown to Florissant Valley CC
The two primary choices for getting from downtown to Florissant Valley CC, click image to view in Google Maps. Note that times may vary, just depends on when you depart.

The proposed light rail line would certainly cut this down to 30-45 minutes. That’s a good thing, right? Not necessarily.

Very few ride the #74 MetroBus end to end. It’s a busy bus route but people get on/off where they need to. With 68 points of access it serves the corridor well. More frequent headways would be better though.  The proposed light rail route would most certainly mean the #74 would end at a new Jennings Station MetroLink Station at Goodfellow & W. Florissant, rather than duplicate service from that point North. From Goodfellow & W. Florissant it currently takes 24 minutes to reach the community college at the end of the #74.  The light rail map floating around would instead have just 4 stops including the start & end stops! How is that just?

The proposed light rail has zero stops in the area of W. Florissant that most uses transit.
The proposed light rail has zero stops in the area of W. Florissant that most uses transit.

Sure a light rail train may be faster and be more frequent, but that’s little consolation if you’re walking a mile further in the rain to get to a limited access point. For many current riders they’d now just end up having to walk their entire trip. Unless we ran a bus on the same route as the light rail train, which kinda defeats the point of spending tens/hundreds of millions on light rail.


A similar situation occurs along the proposed Southside route. Currently a person downtown (14th & Spruce) seeking to get to Cherokee & Jefferson using public transit has two choices, both via MetroBus: #11 & #73

How long does it take to get from 14th & Spruce to Cherokee & Jefferson on these two MetroBus routes?

  1. #73: 17 minutes, running every 30 minutes weekdays, with up to 18 points of access in that distance.
  2. #11: 16 minutes, running every 20 minutes weekdays, with up to 19 access points.

Both are pretty quick. The Southside light rail being pushed follows the #11 route exactly between these points so let’s take a closer look.  Google Maps includes the start & end stops in their 19 stop count. Here are the 17 access points in between:

  1. 14th St @ Papin SB
  2. Chouteau Ave @ 14th Street WB
  3. Chouteau Ave @ 18th Street WB
  4. Chouteau Ave @ Mississippi WB
  5. Chouteau Ave @ 22ND Street WB
  6. Jefferson Ave @ Chouteau SB
  7. Jefferson Ave @ Hickory SB
  8. Jefferson Ave @ Park SB
  9. Jefferson Ave @ 1605 S Jefferson SB
  10. Jefferson Ave @ Layfayette SB
  11. Jefferson Ave @ Russell SB
  12. Jefferson Ave @ Shenandoah SB
  13. Jefferson Ave @ Gravois SB
  14. Jefferson Ave @ Pestalozzi SB
  15. Jefferson Ave @ Arsenal SB
  16. Jefferson Ave @ Wyoming SB
  17. Jefferson Ave @ Utah SB

So how many stops would this “just” light rail make to serve the “densely populated South Side”? Five!

  1. Chouteau & Truman Parkway
  2. Jefferson & Park
  3. Jefferson & Russell
  4. Jefferson & Gravois
  5. Jefferson & Arsenal

The density isn’t concentrated at just 5 points! Only a person who doesn’t understand transit can ague that spending millions while reducing 17 access points to 5 is “fair, just and equitable.” For example, everyone who works & shops at Jefferson Commons would now have to walk further. Sorry folks, remember this is “just” as your grocery trips are longer.

Back to Ald. Spencer’s op-ed:

On the one hand, it is exciting to see renewed interest in light rail in St. Louis County. Yet on the other hand, it is alarming that the expansions mentioned did not include a north/south route, but instead focused on the Clayton-Westport, Lambert-Florissant and Shrewsbury-Butler Hill lines. These three lines fail to provide service to the region’s most densely populated areas and many communities that have the highest need. 

Northside/Southside light rail also fails to address actual needs — it would provide service for whites who are uncomfortable riding the bus with non-whites, see Race, Class, and the Stigma of Riding the Bus in America. You can have a free train running every 5 minutes 24/7 but if a person must walk a mile to reach a point of access they’re not going to use it. Stop pretending it benefits them.

Related prior post: Northside-Southside Light Rail Wouldn’t Be Good For St. Louis Neighborhoods

— Steve Patterson




Two Sites Seeking Zoning Changes In Frontenac, Pushback From Residents

Currently there are a couple of interesting zoning issues in the affluent St. Louis suburb of Frontenac. First, some background:

Frontenac is a wealthy inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, located in St. Louis County, Missouri, United States. The signature landmark is Plaza Frontenac, a high-end mall featuring many prominent retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Tiffany & Co., among others. The population was 3,482 at the 2010 census.

The community name is inspired by the Château Frontenac of Quebec City. Benjamin and Lora Wood, who laid out the community’s core called Frontenac Estates, that consisted of 26 two-acre estates, had made frequent trips to Quebec. The community was incorporated as 217 acres (88 ha) in 1947 and annexed another 967 acres (391 ha) in 1948. The community still consists mostly of houses on one-acre lots. French architecture is encouraged in design. (Wikipedia)

From the same Wikipedia page:

The median income for a household in the city was $119,508, and the median income for a family was $136,972. Males had a median income of $100,000 versus $47,344 for females. The per capita income for the city was $64,532. About 0.8% of families and 1.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.6% of those under age 18 and 1.0% of those age 65 or over.

The majority of residences in Frontenac are large single-family detached homes on at least a one-acre lot. At Lindbergh & Conway there are a few blocks of smaller homes on small lots. The biggest exception to the single-family one acre norm is off the I-64 service road West of Spoede — the Daniel Boone Trailer Park. But this 1.31 acre site at 11130 S. Forty Dr isn’t involved in the two zoning issues.

The first is the nearby site of the former Ladue Early Childhood Center at 10601 Clayton Rd., Frontenac is in the Ladue School District. The second is the former Shriner’s Hospital for Children at 2001 S. Lindbergh, on June 1st their new hospital opened in the City of St. Louis.

10601 Clayton Rd

The vacant school  has 420 feet of frontage on Clayton Rd
The vacant school has 420 feet of frontage on Clayton Rd
Closer view of existing building
Closer view of existing building
Some in Frontenac oppose a developer's plan to build a senior residence & villas on the site
Some in Frontenac oppose a developer’s plan to build a senior residence & villas on the site

Though zoned for one acre lots, this site and a few others West to Spoede Rd. are shown as “Single Family Residential – Planned (Overlay) ” on their future land use map. From page 8 of their 2006 Comprehensive Plan:

“Single Family Residential–Planned” is proposed as an overlay land use category. The intention of this is to recognize that the demand for housing options in the area is dynamic and to allow a degree of flexibility for the City of Frontenac to meet this demand. This district identifies areas within Frontenac where the type of residential development described below could easily fit into the fabric of the community. As an overlay, this district is only intended to be an acceptable alternative to the existing land use or the Future Land Use Plan. In addition to the specific areas identified on the map, land adjacent to and fronting on North Outer Forty Drive and South Outer Forty Drive has also been identified as appropriate for Single Family Residential– Planned.

Defined on the following page as:

Single family detached homes or 2-unit attached villas, clustered to maximize open space and allow for flexible home siting and property maintenance arrangements. Requires the creation of a new Planned Residential District as an Overlay District within the City’s Land Use Code of Ordinances.

More detail at the Frontenac Planning & Zoning Commission, see the latest revision to the proposal here.

2001 S. Lindbergh

When the Shriner’s moved their hospital to Frontenac in the early 1960s much of the small town was still undeveloped. Since then, McMansions on one acre lots have closed in on the 14.87 acre site with more than 600 feet of frontage on Lindbergh Blvd.

In 1962 the Shriner's built a new hospital on a large site in Frontenac
In 1962 the Shriner’s built a new hospital on a large site in Frontenac

With the new hospital open the old site can now be sold for redevelopment. From last month.

John Gloss, hospital administrator, said the property in Frontenac attracted 17 offers, which were then narrowed down to four and now one.

The buyer and the hospital are in a “due diligence” period with the buyer, which Gloss declined to identify, citing a confidentiality agreement. 

Robert Shelton, Frontenac’s city administrator, however, told the Post-Dispatch Wednesday “the buyer is DESCO.” (Post-Dispatch)

DESCO is the development company of Schnucks Markets, behind developments like Loughborough Commons and the 9th Street Garage — after razing the historic Century Building. My assumption is they’d like to build a new Schnucks to replace the old/small location at the NE corner of Lindbergh & Clayton in the City of Ladue.

Schnucks at 10275 Clayton Rd. in the Ladue West Shopping Center was built in 1959. The shopping center site is only 5.44 acres.
Schnucks at 10275 Clayton Rd. in the Ladue West Shopping Center was built in 1959. The shopping center site is only 5.44 acres. Click image for map.

Like the former school on Clayton Rd, the nearly 15 acre former hospital site is zoned one acre residential. However, Frontenac’s future land use plan shows it as Regional Commercial, the same as abutting Plaza Frontenac. Their 2006 Comprehensive Plan defines this as:

 Retail, office, and/or other commercial uses at a scale of regional service. 

I’ll be interested to see DESCO’s proposal for this site.

— Steve Patterson