Opinion: Urban Design Only Works If Both Sides Of The Street(s) Are Also Urban

 

 When I started this blog over 14 years ago I was of the belief that all corridors in the city should be urbanized as new development replaced old. Gradually the corridor would slowly become more urban — with newer buildings up to the street rather than set back behind a …

Thoughts on the Midterm Election

 

 Among the biggest midterm election news is that deep red Missouri overwhelmingly approved the most liberal (Proposition 2) of three medical marijuana propositions, the other two failed (Prop 3 & Prop C). All 3 were described in a Sunday Poll in late September. In 2019 we’ll see rules for growers & …

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

 

 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 In the city buildings built up to the sidewalk have been replaced by buildings set …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 23 of 2018-2019 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 23rd meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Today’s agenda includes four(4) new bills: B.B.#157 – Ingrassia – An ordinance approving a blighting study and redevelopment plan for Chouteau/Jefferson/La Salle/Missouri/ Hickory/Mackay Place Redevelopment; and containing a severability clause. B.B.#158 – Vollmer …

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Parking Lot Change Resulted In Cars Encroaching On 11th Street Public Sidewalk

August 27, 2018 Downtown, Featured, Parking, Walkability Comments Off on Parking Lot Change Resulted In Cars Encroaching On 11th Street Public Sidewalk
 

The Louderman building at 11th & Locust includes restaurants, offices, and residential. Most parking is underground, but they’ve always had a small surface lot

The fenced surface lot is over the underground parking for Louderman Lofts building. A few years ago I used this image in a post suggesting a small retail kiosk/building at the 11th/Olive corner. The developer confirmed it was built to handle that.

Change did come to this corner in June 2017, but not in the form of an urban building to establish the corner. The parking lot was reconfigured — possibly without city approval.

June 22, 2017: A Jeep is pulling out of the one fenced-in parking lot.
A new curb cut was created. This is just East of their basement garage drive.
Looking toward the lot we see the South fence section removed.
A more direct view
Closer up we can see the old fence leaning in the background.
The removed section was installed out at the Olive sidewalk, but a gap remains along 11th Street. September 6, 2017
Parking stops weren’t used so vehicles can pull forward to allow others to be able to exit. This means vehicles are parking on the public sidewalk — as defined by a tire on the sidewalk. May 16, 2018

Either the Louderman condo association did this without the city’s blessing/permission OR the city ignored their own parking lot requirements regarding minimum space size and fencing. This lot once used the existing alley for access, now we have an exit onto Olive. It was bad enough watching for cars entering/exiting their underground garage, not pedestrians must watch for vehicles exiting this surface lot as well. The sidewalk is narrowed by the cars encroaching.

Either way it’s annoying, ugly. I’ll be sending a link to this post to numerous people to find out A) was permission granted for the curb cut change and B) if there’s anyway to require parking stops &/or continuous fencing to keep cars from encroaching on the sidewalk.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How Will Missouri’s Clergy Sex Abuse Investigation Compare To Pennsylvania’s?

August 26, 2018 Featured, Religion, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: How Will Missouri’s Clergy Sex Abuse Investigation Compare To Pennsylvania’s?
 
Please vote below

Recent news in Pennsylvania making national headlines is getting attention here in Missouri:

Pennsylvania officials last week released the results of a two-year grand jury probe that found evidence that at least 1,000 people, mostly children, had been sexually abused by some 300 clergymen in the state during the past 70 years. The most-wide ranging report on clergy sex abuse in the United States said the numbers of actual victims and abusers could be much higher.

Similar reports have emerged in Europe, Australia and Chile, prompting lawsuits and investigations, sending dioceses into bankruptcy and undercutting the moral authority of the leadership of the Catholic Church, which has some 1.2 billion members around the world. (Reuters)

In response, Missouri’s Attorney General opened an investigation here.

Jefferson City, Mo.  – Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley today announced that his office has launched an independent review of the Archdiocese of St. Louis regarding allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members. This comes after the Archdiocese agreed to voluntarily cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office. 

“Victims of sexual abuse of any kind deserve to have their voices heard and Missourians deserve to know if this misconduct has occurred in their communities,” Hawley said. “By inviting this independent review, the Archdiocese is demonstrating a willingness to be transparent and expose any potential wrongdoing.”

In Missouri, jurisdiction for crimes of this nature lies with the elected local prosecutor. However, because the Archdiocese has agreed to voluntarily cooperate, the Attorney General’s Office will be able to conduct an independent review for the purpose of public transparency and accountability. (Missouri Attorney General)

St. Louis isn’t statewide, as news reports indicate the investigation will be. It does appear other diocese in the state will cooperate.

The following is something I wasn’t aware of before Friday.

From 1973 to 1983, the leader of the Springfield diocese was Cardinal Bernard Law, who is remembered for his time as archbishop of Boston, where he and other officials shuffled priests from church to church even as reports of clergy sex abuse mounted. (USA Today)

For more on Boston, see the 2015 film Spotlight.

Today’s poll is about what Missouri’s investigation will find compared to Pennsylvania. That state has twice the population, so the totals should be higher. So the question is based on per capita. Note: If you think the findings will be less per capita, then you’re in the agree camp. If you think the results will be higher, per capita, then you’re in the disagree camp.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

New Book: This Used To Be St. Louis, by NiNi Harris

August 24, 2018 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: This Used To Be St. Louis, by NiNi Harris
 

I’ve known historian/author NiNi Harris for many years, so I’m always pleased when I see she had a new book out.

St. Louis’s history is layered. Each layer, whether the French pioneers establishing St. Louis as a river trading post, or Swiss immigrants starting dairy farms and dairies, or immigrants from Europe putting on the uniforms of the American doughboy, has left an imprint on the city. This Used to Be St. Louis is a fun trip through those layers of history following the story of: the glamorous, urban lofts that had been the factory for ball turrets for World War Two Air Force bombers; the dock of the pasta plant where the Civil War ironclads were built; the elegant townhouse that once served as an Albanian Orthodox Church. (Reedy Press)

The premise of This Used to Be St. Louis is simple — talk about lots of places we know in St. Louis — what they were and what they are now. For example, the Schlafly Tap Room, where my husband and I had our first date, was originally a printing company. Nearby is the 2020 Washington condos, but most everyone knows the handsome building as the Sporting News building. The publisher occupied the building for decades.  Originally, however, it was Emerson Electric’s Ball Turret Factory. Who knew? NiNi Harris — that’s who.

Warning — this book is very addictive. I’ll let you explore the book to read about the Civil War secessionist camp within our current city limits.  The book has many photos — mostly black & white — but it does have a nice color section in the center. It’s mostly the City of St. Louis, but also includes entries from St. Louis County.

— Steve Patterson

My Vision Is Better Than It Was On Sunday!

August 22, 2018 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on My Vision Is Better Than It Was On Sunday!
 

Sunday’s non-scientific poll was about vision. My poll answers are still the same, but my vision is better today than it was on Sunday. Monday morning I had outpatient surgery on my left eye to remove the cataract.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye which leads to a decrease in vision. Cataracts often develop slowly and can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms may include faded colors, blurry vision, halos around light, trouble with bright lights, and trouble seeing at night. This may result in trouble driving, reading, or recognizing faces. Poor vision caused by cataracts may also result in an increased risk of falling and depression. Cataracts cause half of all cases of blindness and 33% of visual impairment worldwide. (Wikipedia)

Over a decade ago, not long after my stroke, I was diagnosed with early cataracts — my lenses were just beginning to cloud over.

Like the myth about the frog in boiling water, the change is gradual.  Myth because the frog would notice and would jump out. Over the years I’d learned how to compensate — going into a building because I couldn’t see my phone’s screen outside, having apps set on the largest text option, not driving when glare would be an issue. This year I jumped out of the pot and asked my physician to refer me to a specialist. The first ophthalmologist that examined me agreed both lenses should be replaced, I just needed to come back to make sure the surgeon concurred.

Monday as I was about to be wheeled out of the Center for Advanced Medicine

She did, no prescription would help me see as well as I should. On Monday I got a new lens in my left eye — it also corrected my near vision. Colors are more vivid, everything is sharp now.

The right eye will hopefully happen soon. I’ll still wear glasses for distance. Cataracts runs in my family — my mom had it, as did her mom. My dad had it. My two older bothers both have it, though the oldest has had one lens replaced. For some, like me, it starts earlier and progresses faster. Lucky me…

Through all this I thought about a 60 Minutes story from April 2017 — two US doctors who travel to other countries to perform the surgery I just had:

U Myint Oo hadn’t seen for two years, until this moment. Others here had been blind for decades. They all had cataracts – a milky, white build-up of protein that clouds the lens of the eye.  In the U.S. they mainly afflict the elderly; removing them – a routine operation. But here in Burma, also known as Myanmar, cataracts go untreated and blindness is a way of life. (CBS News/60 Minutes)

Yes, left untreated cataracts gradually leads to blindness. This is why my maternal grandmother had her cataracts surgeries in the early 1960s — back then it was a major operation that required hospitalization — and it didn’t correct vision — just removed the clouded lens. She wore thick glasses, but wasn’t blind. A few years later Dr. Charles D. Kelman’s research changed the process:

In 1967, the phacoemulsification procedure was introduced. Instead of making a large incision in the eye and removing the lens, doctors could make a tiny one. Then they inserted an ultrasonic tip which, vibrating thousands of times a second, broke up the cataracts without damaging the surrounding tissue. The remains of the cataract were suctioned out.

The procedure, which Dr. Kelman taught to thousands of doctors around the world, is now performed more than a million times a year in the United States alone. Artificial lenses that he developed in the 1970’s are now routinely implanted in patients’ eyes, making unnecessary the ultrathick glasses that once were common after surgery. And his ultrasonic approach has been adopted in other fields of medicine, including neurosurgery. (New York Times)

Both of my parents, already in their 70s, had both eyes done in the 2000s. I recall my mom being so thrilled — something I can finally understand. Sadly, she died just a few years later. After my mom died my dad had both of his cataracts removed, but was hospitalized & died just after the 2nd — completely unrelated to the cataract surgery. Getting mine done at 51, I hope to have many more years of enjoying good vision again.

Yesterday after returning home from my followup with the surgeon

Cataracts is one of the big four causes of adult blindness/low vision:

Four eye diseases — age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts — account for most cases of adult blindness and low vision among people in developed countries. Unlike many other ailments associated with aging, they cause no pain and often no early symptoms and thus do not automatically prompt a person to seek medical care. But a thorough checkup by an ophthalmologist can detect them in their earliest stages, followed by treatment that can slow or halt their progression or, in the case of cataracts, restore normal vision.

Macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older, involves an irreversible loss of retinal cells that robs people of the central vision needed to read, watch a TV program or identify a face or object in front of them. There are two types, dry and wet. In the dry type, the light-sensitive cells in the macula, a structure near the center of the retina, gradually break down. In the wet type, abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula.

Steps you can take to lower your risk of macular degeneration or slow its progression include not smoking, eating lots of dark leafy green vegetables, wearing sunglasses to block ultraviolet light, and taking one or more supplements formulated to support macular health. There are also treatments specific for wet A.M.D., including laser surgery, photodynamic therapy and drugs that are injected into the eye to slow the growth of abnormal blood vessels.

Diabetic retinopathy, the cause of most blindness in American adults, also affects the light-sensitive retina, damaging the vision of more than half of people with diabetes age 18 or older. The most effective preventive is maintaining a normal level of glucose in the blood through medication and a proper balance of diet and exercise. Blood glucose should be routinely monitored, high blood pressure effectively treated and smoking avoided entirely.

Glaucoma, another leading cause of blindness, involves a rise in fluid pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve. It affects more than four million Americans, about half of whom don’t know they have it, and is especially common among African-Americans and Hispanics. It can be detected with a comprehensive eye exam, which should be done annually for African-Americans and those with a family history of the condition.

Although glaucoma is not curable, treatment to lower pressure in the eye with prescription eye drops and, in some cases, pills or surgery can control the condition.

Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss among people over 40. They involve a gradual clouding of the lens, a normally transparent tissue directly behind the iris and pupil that helps to focus images on the retina. As cataracts progress, it becomes increasingly difficult to see clearly, impairing the ability to read, drive or recognize faces.

Preventing or slowing the development of cataracts involves protecting the eyes from sun damage, not smoking, consuming a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and, if you have diabetes, keeping blood sugar under control.

In years past, doctors often advised patients with cataracts to wait until they were far advanced before removing them surgically. This is no longer the case. Cataract surgery is now done when the condition begins to affect a person’s quality of life or interferes with the ability to perform normal activities.

The surgery is nearly always done under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. If both eyes have cataracts, as is usually the case, the second eye is typically treated some weeks after the first to avoid the rare risk of a postoperative infection in both eyes. The operation involves removing the clouded lens and, in most cases, replacing it with a clear artificial lens that often gives patients better vision than they had even before developing cataracts. (New York Times)

Here are the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: How is your vision? Check all that apply.

  • I wear prescription glasses: 14 [38.89%]
  • I often wear sunglasses: 7 [19.44%]
  • I don’t need glasses/contacts: 6 [16.67%]
  • I wear prescription contacts: 4 [11.11%]
  • I have reduced vision: 3 [8.33%]
  • TIE: 1 [2.78%]
    • I have cataracts
    • I have glaucoma
  • TIE: 0 [0%]
    • I’ve had laser or other surgery to correct my vision
    • I have no vision (blind)
    • I have age-related macular degeneration
    • I have diabetic retinopathy

If you haven’t had an eye exam in the last couple of years, please do so soon.

— Steve Patterson

Well-Used Bus Stop Is A Muddy Hole After It Rains

August 20, 2018 Accessibility, Featured, Public Transit, Transportation, Walkability Comments Off on Well-Used Bus Stop Is A Muddy Hole After It Rains
 

Usually when I go to my regular doctor I take either the #97 (Delmar) MetroBus or MetroLink to connect with the southbound #90 MetroBus at Goodfellow or Forest Park station, respectively. However, depending on the bus schedule and my appointment time I’ll take the #10 MetroBus from Olive @ 16th to the Gravois-Hampton MetroBus Transit Center, and then catch the #90 MetroBus heading northbound. The alternative takes about 15 minutes longer, but often will get me to my destination closer to my appointment time.

The #10 (Lindell-Gravois) MetroBus ends at the transfer center on the NE corner of Hampton & Gravois

But I only take the Gravois-Hampton alternate if it hasn’t rained recently. You see, the bus stop I use to catch the Northbound #90 is a muddy hole if it has rained recently.

The bus stop is where thw standing water is on this October 2014 photo.

‘The Northbound #90 bus stays on Hampton rather than pulling into the transit center. Riders getting off/on must use the grassy tree lawn.

At the bus stop looking South toward the MetroBus transit center
Looking North, note the bus stop sign is mounted very high on the poll — and facing the street. I couldn’t read the stop ID from my wheelchair.
Cropping later I could see it’s stop #3275
The tree lawn is quite wide here, you can see how the grass is well-worn.
Up close I could see a tire track likely made when it was muddy

Even dry this stop is a problem when boarding. When the bus driver puts out the ramp/lift it leaves a huge gap my chair must get up — this is because all the use has worn this spot down so it’s lower than the curb and surrounding grass. Recently I was waiting in the grass just before the stop to avoid this problem. It’s adenegrated  experience for everyone dry or wet, impossible for us wheelchair users when wet.

Metro occasionally gets grants to improve accessibility of MetroBus stops — #3275 needs to be toward the top of the list for improvement.

— Steve Patterson

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