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Sunday Poll: Will City & County Both Lose Population In Upcoming 2020 Census?

March 12, 2017 Featured, St. Louis County, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will City & County Both Lose Population In Upcoming 2020 Census?
Please vote below

Every Census since 1940, except 1950, the City of St. Louis has lost population. In that same period, St. Louis County has gained population — except the most recent Census in 2010.  Today’s poll is pretty straightforward, will both lose population in the 2020 Census to be held just 3 years from now? Or do you think one (perhaps both) will show an increase?

Missouri Route 364 (aka Page Ave Extension) opened on December 13, 2003 — which helps explain the county’s first population loss other than the 1880 loss following the city leaving the county in 1876.

 

As always, the poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Design Issues With Well-Intentioned Monarch Butterfly Garden

In the news lately has been Alice Hezel’s front yard in Maplewood:

Woman defends native plants in her yard; city says clean it up

She and the City of Maplewood are in opposite corners on the issue of her garden. I see both sides. Yes, the Monarch butterfly is critical — we need them pollenating. Like most things, there’s a right way and a wrong way. First, the results from the non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Finish this statement: Monarch Butterfly Gardens in residential neighborhoods…

  1. …are ok if it’s not allowed to grow wild 9 [24.32%]
  2. TIE 8 [21.62%]
    1. …are more important than local “weed” laws
    2. …are a wonderful change from boring lawns
  3. TIE 5 [13.51%]
    1. …are great if the yard is large enough to have shorter natives around tall milkweed
    2. Other:
      1. Fine if they are kept out of the PROW
      2. Are maintained and in the backyard.
      3. should be encouraged, and perhaps rewarded.
      4. shorter natives plus annual flowers like zinnias, which monarchs love
      5. Irrelevant and belong in rural areas
  4. …are a nuisance 2 [5.41%]

Like many of you, I’m bored with manicured lawns — I much prefer a front-yard garden that produces fruits &/or vegetables or provides habitat for birds, butterflies, etc. Ferguson

However, as I’ve experienced with previous yards, getting the non-lawn garden to look like a planned & cared-for outcome is very tough.

The controversial butterfly garden on Cambridge Ave on August 13th
The controversial butterfly garden on Cambridge Ave on August 13th

Though I’d admire Hezel for her effort to create an environment for the Monarch butterfly, she’s ignored some basic rules of good garden design.

There's no physical barrier between the neighbors lawn and her garden. This makes it impossible to keep the grass out.
There’s no physical barrier between the neighbors lawn and her garden. This makes it impossible to keep the grass out.

The tall plant is milkweed — a must for the Monarch butterfly. There are numerous varieties of milkweed, some aren’t as tall as the common variety. I don’t know the variety she has but my guess is it’s the tallest, not the shortest. There are tall ornamental grasses that look great when contrasted with shorter plants — but you wouldn’t fill your entire yard with pampas grass, for example.

The massing of the plants just doesn’t work. I tried to find examples of good butterfly gardens with milkweed but I had no luck. They must exist, but the people I contacted were unable to point me to any. There are great gardens with natives, but not specific Monarch butterfly gardens.

I think Hezel needs to start over, creating a barrier to the North to keep grass our of her garden. Donate the tall milkweed, and get shorter varieties.

Further reading on Monarch butterfly gardens:

— Steve Patterson

 

 

I Woke Up Two Years Ago

August 9, 2016 Featured, Ferguson 6 Comments

The shooting of an unarmed African-American by a white Ferguson police officer was what opened the eyes to myself and other whites to what blacks had been saying for years. Two years ago this morning Michael Brown died on Canfield Drive.

Heading east on Canfield Dr I spotted the line of red roses in the center of the street. August 22, 2014
Heading east on Canfield Dr I spotted the line of red roses in the center of the street. August 22, 2014
Next to the sidewalk there are more items as a tribute to Michael Brown. August 22, 2014
Next to the sidewalk there are more items as a tribute to Michael Brown. August 22, 2014
By the first anniversary a plaque had been placed, photo date 9/7/15
By the first anniversary a plaque had been placed, photo date 9/7/15
We visited again on Sunday 9/7/16; more than a year later, the concrete still appears new
We visited again on Sunday 9/7/16; more than a year later, the concrete still appears new
9/7/16
9/7/16
Looking East down Canfield Dr toward the spot where he died
Looking East down Canfield Dr toward the spot where he died
Too far for me to walk to the spot, but we slowly drove by it to look at the items people have left
Too far for me to walk to the spot, but we slowly drove by it to look at the items people have left

We weren’t the only ones stopping by on Sunday. Signs indicated Canfield Dr will be closed Tuesday morning for a vigil “planned at the memorial site on Tuesday, August 9th at 10:30 a.m.”

The list of incidents in the last two years it two long to mention — evidence much work remains to be done.

In March 2015 I did three posts on a future Empowerment Center at the site of the former QT:

  1. Will the Urban League’s New Ferguson Center Be Urban or Suburban?
  2. Two Community Plans Intersect at Former Ferguson QuikTrip Site
  3. Top-Down Auto-Centric Thinking Continues In Ferguson, Still Time To Change
The plan was a building set back behind a parking lot. 
The plan was a building set back behind a parking lot.
As of Sunday, the site has been cleared. The opportunity still exists to build a more urban building up to the public sidewalk
As of Sunday, the site has been cleared. The opportunity still exists to build a more urban building up to the public sidewalk

The ground breaking was in July 2015, but in March of this year it was announced it would be triple the original size. No mention of the site planning.

 

— Steve Patterson

 

Two Years Since Jamestown Mall Was Closed

Jamestown Mall in North County closed two years ago. It was over five years ago discussions were going on about redeveloping the site:, see Readers Split on New Urbanist Village at Nearly Dead Jamestown Mall (June 2011)

At the time the mall was still open…barely.

May 2011Two anchors remained in May 2011
Two anchors remained in May 2011
The Jamestown Mall food court was mostly dead
The Jamestown Mall food court was mostly dead

From July 18, 2014:

With the Jamestown Mall quietly locking its doors, officials hope the passing creates an opening to transform a site that has long troubled north St. Louis County residents and leaders.

“The goal is to put the property in a condition where we have reasonable hope to develop it to serve the citizens of North County,” said Andrew Ruben, a senior vice president of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

The County Planning Commission is expected to begin the process Monday by approving a declaration to mark the 1.2 million-square-foot parcel as a “blighted area.” (Post-Dispatch)

A few weeks later Darren Wilson shot & killed Michael Brown.

In late 2014 someone went exploring inside the shuttered mall, followed by others who broke in and damaged stuff.

How long will it sit?

— Steve Patterson

 

The ‘Great Streets’ Project on Natural Bridge, Part 3

Now sidewalks are generous, pedestrians feel protected from passing vehicles
Now sidewalks are generous, pedestrians feel protected from passing vehicles

The last two days I’ve shown you before & after photos of the Great Streets makeover/road diet of Natural Bridge Rd — a 1.7 mile stretch from Lucas & Hunt on the East end to Hanley Rd in the West end (map):

In May 2012 I posted about the upcoming project, see Redeveloping Natural Bridge & The UMSL South MetroLink Station.

Many have said it now looks better, or is prettier.  True, but it functions & feels better — at least for pedestrians in my experience. I’ve also driven the stretch both directions, before and after, but that was on weekends. It also felt better to me as a motorist.

One complaint I received last month is that driving it now can take quite a bit longer. Only two options — either it does take longer or the perception is that it takes longer. I have no method to determine which it is.

The number of traffic signals seems about the same as before, I didn’t tally the number, though that could be done via Google Street View. The major change was reducing the number of driving lanes  per direction from two to one. This freed up a significant amount of the public right-of-way (PROW) for use by pedestrian amenities.

Where such road diets have been performed, the actual number of vehicles through the area, in a given period, remains the same as before. Are there times where it might take longer? No doubt. But any speed that was achieved during the prior decades was at the expense of other users of the PROW.  Before this project vehicles traveled too fast. Two wide lanes per direction made drivers think it was OK.

Posted speed limits have little bearing on vehicle speed — motorists drive at speeds that feel comfortable to them. Give them only one narrow lane per direction and they’ll slow down. However, they can’t pass like they used to. To those who like to race to the next red light, it must be frustrating being behind someone going at or below the posted speed limit.

I plan to return during an afternoon rush hour to see if I can see backups at any of the lights, it’s possible the timing needs to be adjusted.

On the other hand, I received an email from someone who says his significant other walks from home to/from the MetroLink station weekdays — the project is a huge improvement.

While there are some issues I pointed out in the first two parts, the public right-of-way (PROW) is now well-balanced between vehicles & pedestrians. Designing streets that are great for those of us who are disabled also turns out to be great for every pedestrian. Hopefully in the new couple of decades we’ll see new urban infill in the various commercial areas along this stretch.

— Steve Patterson

 

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