Blairmont Became NorthSide Regeneration, Received Blessing of Mayor Slay and a Majority of Aldermen

 

 On Monday I took you back through years of looking into various shell companies involving hundreds of properties, many acres, and lots of secrecy — up to the public reveal in late May 2009. If you missed it, see Before It Was Officially Named NorthSide Regeneration, We Knew It As ‘Blairmont’. …

Before It Was Officially Named NorthSide Regeneration, We Knew It As ‘Blairmont’

 

 With the news last week that the City of St. Louis now considers developer Paul McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration project in default and Missouri suing him for tax fraud, I got to thinking about how we got here. To my knowledge the first blog post about Blairmont was Michael Allen’s July …

Sunday Poll: Any Hope of Reviving North St. Louis Without Paul McKee?

 

 Developer Paul McKee had a bad week last week. In a letter filed Tuesday, city officials say it’s time to face facts. “After a decade, the promised redevelopment has not come, nor is there any indication that it will,” the letter states. “Land lies fallow. Taxes go unpaid. Vacant buildings remain …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bill Week 9 of 2018-2019 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 9th meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Today’s agenda includes just new bill: B.B.#87 – Murphy – Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an Ordinance authorizing the honorary street name, Robert Prager Way, to begin at the intersection of Morgan Ford Road …

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Sunday Poll: Was The Last Few Months Designed To Force Eric Greitens To Resign?

June 3, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Was The Last Few Months Designed To Force Eric Greitens To Resign?
 
Please vote below

After months of saying he wouldn’t resign, Tuesday last week Eric Greitens  announced he would resign as Missouri’s 56th governor effective 5pm Friday June 1, 2018. Today’s poll is about Greitens’ resignation statement on Tuesday May 29, 2018:

Here is the full text:

Good afternoon. Today I am announcing that I will resign as governor of Missouri effective Friday, June 1, at 5 p.m. 

I came to office to fight for the people of Missouri, to fight for the forgotten. I love Missouri, and I love our people. That love remains. I am thankful to all those who have worked beside me, sweated beside me, those who gave their time, their energy, their precious resources so that we could pursue our mission of taking Missouri in a new and better direction. We have accomplished a lot together. I am proud of you, and I am proud of all of our work.

The last few months have been incredibly difficult for me, for my family, for my team, for my friends and for many, many people that I love. This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family. Millions of dollars in mounting legal bills, endless personal attacks, designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends. Legal harassment of colleagues, friends and campaign workers. And It’s clear that for the forces that oppose us, there is no end in sight. I cannot allow those forces to continue to cause pain and difficulty to the people that I love. 

I know, and people of good faith know, that I am not perfect, but I have not broken any laws nor committed any offense worthy of this treatment. I will let the fairness of this process be judged by history. It has been a great honor and a privilege to serve as your governor. Traveling the state, I have talked to many of you who harbor extraordinary anger at this ordeal and for those who have pushed and promoted it. 

For those who would be moved to vengeance, let us allow history and God to bring justice. We must, as we have always done, work to improve the lives of those around us. This is not the end of our fight. I will always be a fighter for the people of Missouri. A great deal of work is left undone. The time has come, though, to tend to those that have been wounded, and to care for those who need us most. So for the moment, let us walk off the battlefield with our heads held high. We have a good and proud story to tell our children. Let’s love them and each other every day.  (Springfield News-Leader)

May God continue to bless you and to bless the great state of Missouri.

You can watch the video here.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 7 of 2018-2019 Session

June 1, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 7 of 2018-2019 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 7th meeting of the 2018-2019 session.

Today’s agenda includes four (4) new bills:

  • B.B.#68 – Tyus – An ordinance to regulate employer and employee working relationships between the City and all employees under the Classified Service, including a compensation plan, terms and conditions of employment, benefits, leaves of absence, and authorization for a Deferred Compensation Plan; repealing Ordinance 70285; allocating certain other employees to a grade with rate; and including an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#69 – J. Boyd – An ordinance recommended by the Parking Commission making appropriation for payment of the operating expenses, capital equipment and improvement expenses, including lease purchase agreements involving Parking Division assets, and debt service expenses of the Parking Division of the Treasurer’s Office, Kiel & City Hall Parking Facilities, Information Technologies, Argyle Parking, Chouteau Building & Parking Facility, Williams Paper Parking, Central Downtown Parking, Buckingham Parking, Cupples Parking Facility and Justice Parking Facility for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2019, amounting in the aggregate to the sum of Sixteen Million, Two Hundred Twenty One Thousand, Nine Hundred Two Dollars ($16,221,902) and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#70 – Navarro – An ordinance approved and recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment and the Board of Public Service; authorizing a First Amendment of the Lease Agreement authorized by Ordinance 63956 between the City, and the Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis by amending Section 2. Term; Section 4. Other Consideration (a) Forest Park Improvements; and Exhibit C; with an emergency provision.
  • B.B.#71 – Vaccaro – An ordinance establishing a three-way stop site at the intersection of Pernod Avenue and Tedmar Avenue regulating all traffic traveling eastbound and westbound on Pernod Avenue at Tedmar Avenue and regulating all traffic traveling southbound on Tedmar Avenue at Pernod Avenue, and containing an emergency clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: Proposed Crosswalk “Improvements:” On Grand Won’t Improve Pedestrian Safety

May 30, 2018 Featured, Midtown, Planning & Design, SLU, Walkability Comments Off on Opinion: Proposed Crosswalk “Improvements:” On Grand Won’t Improve Pedestrian Safety
 

Grand Avenue runs through Saint Louis University’s main campus. It’s very busy because other North-South options like Spring & Theresa were vacated years ago. This means North-South that had 5 options now have 3: Vandeventer, Grand, and Compton. To handled the increased volume, on-street parking was removed. Without having to slow for cars parking, speeds increased. For pedestrians this is dangerous.

Since the city has given away public right-of-way (aka streets) to private property owners for years this problem exists throughout the city.  The proposed solution is the same superficial one — decorative crosswalks. The warm & fuzzy element of urban planning.

SLU’s rendering of proposed changes to Grand where West Pine used to be

Here again is what SLU is planning at Lindell, where West Pine used to be, and Laclede:

The project calls for the elimination of one of the three northbound lanes on Grand, which will allow the remaining lanes and the median to be widened. Bollards will also be installed to protect pedestrians who are about to cross the street as well as those who might be standing in the median. The roadway where the crosswalk is, will be changed to a brick-like surface to enhance the look and remind drivers to slow down. (KMOV)

Let’s take a closer look at each element.

  • Removal of one Northbound travel lane: Reducing the number of travel lanes is good.
  • Widen the remaining travel lanes & median: While widening the median is ok. increasing the width of travel lanes is the wrong thing to do! Wider lanes means driver’s feel safe at higher speeds. The remaining lanes should either be kept at their current width or reduced if you want to slow vehicles to increase pedestrian safety.
  • Bollards installed: In this context bollards gov an impression of safety, though they might help since cars will be going even faster on wider lanes.

b

I’ve long been interested in the Grand & formerly West Pine crosswalk. I visited and observed at 4:45pm on Tuesday September 21, 2010 — nearly 8 years ago.

The crosswalk was highly visible to pedestrians & motorists, September 2010

After I observed the crosswalk and took the photo (above) I decided to record what I was witnessing,

Here are the problems I listed at the end of the video:

  1. Signal timing is too long for pedestrians, they get tired of waiting and cross when they can. The timing needs to change so pedestrians can safely cross more frequently.
  2. The pedestrian button, like most in St. Louis, doesn’t do anything. Even the one person who pressed the button crossed before getting the “walk” signal.  Eliminate the button or make the signal change quickly once pressed.

The fixes, save for shortening the crossing distance & giving students more space to stand between traffic, won’t make this crossing any safer. It’s possible the dark bricks will be less noticeable to motorists than the white paint. I know from a wheelchair perspective brick crosswalks are highly annoying. Motorists need to slow down before they reach the crosswalk.

Looking North on the East side of Grand, June 2011

One of the big problems is the lack of anything to get motorists to slow down: parked cars, narrow lanes, or — my favorite — street trees. It feels too wide open so motorists feel ok going faster than they should. Other things to do would be rumble strips in the pavement prior to reaching the crosswalk. make traffic stop more frequently during busy times, embed flashing LED lights in the lane markers ,a lighted sign overhead, etc.

Sadly too many are fooled by this region’s superficial efforts to appear to make pedestrian-friendly environments. Here’s the results of the recent non-scioentiofic Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Proposed changes to the crosswalk on Grand South of Lindell will greatly improve safety for pedestrians.

  • Strongly agree 3 [13.64%]
  • Agree 3 [13.64%]
  • Somewhat agree 7 [31.82%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [9.09%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [9.09%]
  • Disagree 4 [18.18%]
  • Strongly disagree 1 [4.55%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

This crosswalk will, to most eyes, look better. Aesthetics aside, it won’t perform any better — it might be worse. This is a way for SLU to mitigate damages from a future lawsuit by claiming they made an effort to improve safety. Actual safety is perceived as too inconvenient to motorists.

— Steve Patterson

 

Soldiers Memorial Opened Memorial Day 1938, Will Reopen November 3, 2018

May 28, 2018 Downtown, Events/Meetings, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Soldiers Memorial Opened Memorial Day 1938, Will Reopen November 3, 2018
 

A century ago World War 1 was ongoing in Europe, having begin in 1914. This coming Fall marks 100 years since the beginning of the end of the war to end all wars.

November 3, 1918 – Mutiny strikes the German Navy at the ports of Kiel and Wilhelmshaven as sailors refuse orders to put to sea to engage in a final colossal battle with the British Navy. Along with this, revolutionary fervor and Bolshevist-style uprisings erupt in German cities including Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin. The extent of the unrest stuns German leaders, and even the Allies, who fear Germany might now succumb to a violent Bolshevist revolution in the manner of Russia. This brings a stark urgency to the armistice negotiations.

November 3, 1918 – The only remaining ally of Germany, Austria-Hungary, signs an armistice with Italy, leaving Germany alone in the war. (Source)

On November 11, 1918 Germany signed the armistice. St. Louis lost many men in the war, so a memorial to them was a given. It didn’t happen quickly.

Mayor Dickman laid the cornerstone on November 11, 1936

It would be nearly two decades since the end of the war before the memorial opened.

Soldiers Memorial officially opened on Memorial Day in 1938. The building was designed by St. Louis architecture firm Mauran, Russell & Crowell in a classical style with art deco flourishes. It features four monumental groups of sculptures by artisan Walker Hancock that represent courage, loyalty, sacrifice, and vision. Hancock, a native St. Louisan, served in the US Army in World War II but is perhaps best known for being one of the Monuments Men, the group tasked with protecting and recovering cultural and historical artifacts from wartime damage.

By the end of the 1940s the Court of Honor had been established across the street from Soldiers Memorial. It memorializes the St. Louisans who lost their lives during World War II. (Soldiers Memorial)

Plaques for the Korean & Vietnam wars were later added in the Court of Honor.  Both Soldiers Memorial & the Court of Honor have been managed by the City of St. Louis since built, but a few years ago the city struck a deal with the Missouri History Museum to take over operations of Soldiers Memorial and the Court of Honor. On February 28, 2016, my 49th birthday, both closed to undergo a much needed $30 million dollar facelift to correct decades of neglected maintenance and bring them into the 21st century.

The St. Louis flag being lowered on Sunday February 28, 2016
This is the East display room on the last day, the casework ad detailing are beautiful
The Court of Honor in the foreground with the Soldiers Memorial in the background

I’ve been serving on a disability access panel during the design phases for the site, exhibits, lighting, etc. Access is greatly improved for those of us who use wheelchairs — a second ramp up to the building has been added. The original elevator has been kept, but another was added. The new exhibits have been designed for all to enjoy — including those with vision or hearing loss. I look forward to seeing the finished results, rather than just drawings and renderings.

The reopening is scheduled for 9am on  November 3, 2018.  You can learn more about the renovation project here.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Will New Crosswalks Improve Pedestrian Safety?

May 27, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll, Walkability Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Will New Crosswalks Improve Pedestrian Safety?
 
Please vote below

Regular readers know I’ve often blogged about crosswalks, so it’s no surprise I was interested in a story last week on improvements to three crosswalks on Grand where it runs through the Saint Louis University campusL: Laclede. Lindell, and the point between those two.

The project calls for the elimination of one of the three northbound lanes on Grand, which will allow the remaining lanes and the median to be widened. Bollards will also be installed to protect pedestrians who are about to cross the street as well as those who might be standing in the median. The roadway where the crosswalk is, will be changed to a brick-like surface to enhance the look and remind drivers to slow down. (KMOV)

The work will be funded by SLU, not the city. Here’s more from NextSTL:

SLU to begin Grand crosswalk improvements and road diet

The busiest of the three planned crosswalks is the one halfway between Lindell and Laclede — this is the subject of today’s poll

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

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