Two Buildings, One Small Lot

 

 In the past you’d see multiple buildings on a single lot. Usually this was house and outhouse, stable, or garage. Large fancy homes might have servant quarters over the stable/garage — such was the case at the Campbell House. In more modest neighborhoods you might see two houses or a …

Renovated Kiener Plaza Reopened 5 Years Ago Today

 

 Five years ago the trees at the renovated Kiener Plaza looked so new, provided no shade. Now they’ve matured nicely. Saturday we spent 2+ hours sitting in the shade. It’s nice seeing Kiener Plaza be a space that can hold thousands of people and still function. Now if only we …

Rethinking 811 North 9th Street (Holiday Inn Express)

 

 I recently posted about a 1960s hotel in the Downtown West neighborhood that no longer worked (see Rethinking 2211 Market Street (Pear Tree Inn). Today is a similar look at an early 1980s hotel the no longer works: The Radisson/Ramada/Holiday Inn at 811 North 9th Street. It is across 9th …

Vacant Land Near Centene Stadium Awaits New Construction

 

 Centene Stadium (St. Louis) – Wikipedia, the soccer stadium finishing up construction now, is reshaping the Downtown West neighborhood.   This got me thinking about a vacant parcel just south of the stadium, next to the former YMCA that became a Drury Hotel in the 1980s. The official address is …

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Urban Flooding May Be The New Normal In St. Louis Region

September 9, 2019 Environment, Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Urban Flooding May Be The New Normal In St. Louis Region
 

The St. Louis region is no stranger to flooding — from the slowly rising Mississippi River (think 1993) and from flash floods overwhelming creeks, rivers, and man-made drainage.

On the afternoon of Aug. 19, 1915, remnants of a hurricane reached St. Louis from Texas. Heavy and steady rainfall fell through the next day, dumping a total of 7.4 inches across the area. (6.85 inches on Aug. 20 remains the one-day record in St. Louis.)

The River Des Peres rushed from its banks, swamping long stretches of Delmar and Lindell boulevards, Manchester Avenue and other streets. People were stranded on the Wabash Railroad platform at Delmar (now a Metrolink station) by a seven-foot-deep current 200 yards wide. Firefighters reached them with ladders and used boats to rescue residents of Maple and Hodiamont avenues. (Post-Dispatch)

South on DeBaliviere Avenue from Wabash Railroad toward the Jefferson Memorial Building. River Des Peres flood of August 1915. [photo page 2, top]. Kinsey Collection. Photograph, 1915. River Des Peres Drainage Problem. [Report by J.W. Horner, 1916]. Kinsey Collection. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. SS 0740. NS 15188. Scan © 2007, Missouri Historical Society.
Their solution was a massive project to bury much of the River Des Peres and create a wide channel for the rest as it runs out to the Mississippi River.

More than a century later flooding is still a major problem in the region.

First, let’s talk about some definitions:

Flash Floods

These quick-rising floods are most often caused by heavy rains over a short period (usually six hours or less). Flash floods can happen anywhere, although low-lying areas with poor drainage are particularly vulnerable. Also caused by dam or levee breaks or the sudden overflow of water due to a debris or ice jam, flash floods combine the innate hazards of a flood with speed and unpredictability and are responsible for the greatest number of flood-related fatalities.

Urban Flooding

Flash floods, coastal floods, and river floods can occur in urban areas, but the term “urban flooding” refers specifically to flooding that occurs when rainfall—not an overflowing body of water—overwhelms the local stormwater drainage capacity of a densely populated area. This happens when rainfall runoff is channeled from roads, parking lots, buildings, and other impervious surfaces to storm drains and sewers that cannot handle the volume. (Natural Resources Defense Council)

The term “urban flooding” better describes what we’ve recently experienced in the region.

From July 22, 2019:

The ensuing floods inundated streets and businesses in Eureka, displaced residents from a University City apartment complex, caused sewage overflows and prompted a spate of rescues around the area for motorists stranded in high water.

In Eureka — no stranger to flood damage from the adjacent Meramec River in recent years — the intense, early-morning rain flooded streets of the Old Town business district. Police said they had no reports of injuries.

The flooding happened between about 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Monday, police said. The National Weather Service said local reports indicated Eureka received about 5.5 inches of rain overnight. (Post-Dispatch)

From August 14, 2019:

Flash floods that closed roads and delayed the start of the school year in Granite City are being blamed on the perfect storm: torrential rain, an outdated and inadequate storm drainage system, and political finger pointing.

A thunderstorm dropped between 5 and 7 inches of rain on the central and northern areas of Granite City Sunday night and into Monday morning, flooding the city and turning its roads into waterways. The southern part of the city received roughly 4 inches of rain.

“There was a deluge of water in a short time and the area couldn’t drain fast enough,” Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler said. “It was storm on top of storm.” (Belleville New Democrat)

From August 21, 2019:

Flash flooding causing water rescues and major problems for drivers. Video shows water covering 141 at Interstate 44 in Valley Park.

Police have blocked off 141 to keep cars from driving through the high water.

Most of the rescues dispatched for first responders were in the Valley Park and Fenton area. (Fox2)

Route 141 in Valley Park has routinely flooded, but one of the objectives of MoDot’s $25 million 141 at I-44 project, completed last year, was to reduce flash flooding — the contractor’s proposal included “Improved drainage to reduce the possibility of flash flooding.”

From August 26, 2019:

Flash flooding left drivers stranded and closed roads and highways across the St. Louis area Monday morning.

A flash flood warning was in effect during the morning commute for most of St. Louis County, the city and areas west. The warning was allowed to expire at 10:15 a.m. Some areas reported getting rain at a rate of 1-3 inches per hour. (KSDK)

Last week KMOV reported on a couple rebuilding their lives/home after the August flooding in Granite City. The couple didn’t have flood insurance — I’ll let them explain why they didn’t.

Michelle and Michael are working hard to put their home back together. They don’t have flood insurance because they said they are not in a flood zone and were told they didn’t need it.

“This has never happened in 25 years. Never,” Michelle explained. (KMOV)

It had never happened in 25 years and their home was not in a flood zone! Unfortunately, this is likely the new normal — non-flood zone areas will become overwhelmed by concentrated rains. Homes that had never flooded before will be flooded.

We’ve simply paved over too much land, our drainage systems can’t keep up when inundated with high volumes of rain. Do we invest in beefed up drains throughout the region? Do we begin to remove impervious materials to allow water to drain naturally?  Somewhere in between?

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should The U.S. Government Release a Redacted Name from 9/11 Report?

September 8, 2019 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should The U.S. Government Release a Redacted Name from 9/11 Report?
 
Please vote below

Wednesday is the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

From July:

The House on Friday approved legislation to replenish a depleted federal fund to compensate emergency workers and others who became ill as a result of their work in the ruins of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, extending it for the lifetime of those who were at Sept. 11’s ground zero.

The bill, passed by a lopsided bipartisan 402-12 vote, would authorize $10.2 billion for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. It comes in the face of a large uptick in medical claims from people who worked on “the pile,” as the steaming heap of steel rubble was often called by those who labored there in the months after the attack in 2001. Many of them have since become gravely sick with cancer and other ailments. (New York Times)

It later passed the Senate 97-2. Not everything is covered, this month a new study was published:

The study points out that the cardiovascular care is not currently covered by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, meaning 9/11 firefighters receive no compensation for cardiovascular diseases from the fund.

The cardiovascular risks that appear to be linked to Ground Zero exposure include heart attack, stroke, unstable angina, coronary artery surgery and angioplasty. (NBC News)

Less discussed is an ongoing victims lawsuit:

The Justice Department is wrestling with whether to disclose a name sought by the plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit that seeks to link the government of Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 attacks.

Attorney General William Barr faced a Friday deadline for deciding whether to release the name or to invoke a rarely used state secrets privilege and refuse to divulge the information. But Justice Department officials decided they needed more time, submitting a request to a federal court in New York for an extension until next Thursday. A judge granted the request.  (NBC News)

Today’s poll is about the question of releasing a previously redacted name.

Today’s poll will close at 8am tonight.

— Steve Patterson

Using St. Louis’ Recycling Dumpsters

September 6, 2019 Environment, Featured Comments Off on Using St. Louis’ Recycling Dumpsters
 

I lived in a condo in Downtown West for over 11 years, our condo association had private trash & recycling.  It was very convenient.

Two recycling dumpsters sit side by side on what is apparently considered a sidewalk. Most people going to/from ZOOM Gas walk in O’Fallon Street.

When we moved to the Columbus Square neighborhood in late December 2018 we had to begin using city recycling dumpsters. As our apartment complex isn’t served by city alleys, we must take our recycling to a designated spot.

For us, that spot is on O’Fallon Street just west of 10th Street. My first thought was how inconvenient it was going to be. Turns out I was wrong…assuming you have a car.

We knew our apartment doesn’t have room for the big paper leaf bags we’d used to collect recycling in our loft, so we anticipated using some of our reusable shopping bags.

We used yard/leaf bags for recycling at our loft. This was taken out back about once a month.
Our primary recycling bag is one we got free at the opening of the Gtreenleaf grocery store. Click image for the city’s recycling website.

The drop off location is actually quite convenient. My husband often takes 1-2 shopping bags of recycling on his way to work. On the weekends we’ll both stop by. I’ve even dropped off the recycling by myself.

If you live in the city, you likely have recycling dumpsters in your alley. I have no experience with alley recycling. My guess is non-recyclable items end up in them. Some neighborhoods with alleys also have recycling locations like we do, presumably to save money by not having trucks drive down every alley.

— Steve Patterson

 

Labor Unions Needed More Than Ever

September 4, 2019 Economy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Labor Unions Needed More Than Ever
 
One of the many cute dogs in Monday’s Labor Day Parade

The few at the top have been using the masses to pass laws designed to diminish unions — increasing their profits. As income inequality gets worse, labor unions are needed more than ever.

Collective bargaining is an important force in reducing inequality and ensuring that low- and middle-wage workers are given a fair return on their work. As productivity has risen over the last several decades, wages have remained flat for the majority of working people, while skyrocketing for those at the top. Union decline can explain one-third of the rise in wage inequality among men and one-fifth of the rise in wage inequality among women from 1973 to 2007. Among men, the erosion of collective bargaining has been the largest single factor driving a wedge between the middle class and the top 1 percent.

Working people in unions use their power in numbers to secure a fairer share of the income they create. On average, a worker covered by a union contract earns 13.2 percent more in wages than a peer with similar education, occupation, and experience in a nonunionized workplace in the same sector. But importantly, collective bargaining also raise wages for nonunion workers—as an economic sector becomes more unionized, nonunion employers pay more to retain qualified workers, and norms of higher pay and better conditions become standard. If union density had remained at its 1979 level, weekly wages of nonunion men in the private sector would be 5 percent higher today. (Economic Policy Institute)

Given the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll it’s clear a majority of participants agree.with me.

Q: Agree or disagree: Labor unions are no longer necessary because laws protect worker’s health & safety.

  • Strongly agree: 4 [9.09%]
  • Agree: 4 [9.09%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [2.27%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [6.82%]
  • Disagree: 3 [6.82%]
  • Strongly disagree: 29 [65.91%]
  • Unsure/No Answer:  0 [0%]

As usual, about 20% take the conservative viewpoint.

— Steve Patterson

Thank Labor Unions If You’re Off Work With Pay Today

September 2, 2019 Featured Comments Off on Thank Labor Unions If You’re Off Work With Pay Today
 

Today’s parade begins at 9am from 15th & Olive. It’ll head east to Tucker (12th), south to Market, then west to 15th.

Labor Day Parade in downtown St. Louis, 2009

Parade participants begin assembling at 7am, for more information see the St. Louis Labor Council parade page.

— Steve Patterson

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