STL Downtown Multimodal Study Engagement Week Begins Today

 

 Today kicks off a week of events, from the Facebook Event page: You’re invited to join the City of St. Louis as we talk about the future of our Downtown transportation system. Join any of these half-day workshops. We hope you are able to attend and take part in the …

Sunday Poll: Was Justice Served In The Stockley Verdict?

 

 On Friday a judge finally issued his ruling on the murder trial of a former St. Louis police officer. Stockley, then a St. Louis officer, fatally shot Smith, 24, after a police chase in December 2011 over a suspected drug deal. After he pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bill #122

 

 Last week the St. Louis Board of Aldermen introduced twenty (20) new Board Bills. Today. only one. ON AGENDA* FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 9/15/17: *Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced if they suspend the …

Readers: OK To Raze For Amazon’s HQ2

 

 Last week Amazon announced it planned to build a second headquarters somewhere in North America. Every Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of at least 1 million people is likely interested in attracting Amazon. That’s roughly 50 regions just in the US, the St. Louis region is 20th in size on this …

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Preparing For The Solar Eclipse, August 21. 2017

July 10, 2017 Featured Comments Off on Preparing For The Solar Eclipse, August 21. 2017
 

Solar Eclipse fervor is increasing as August 21, 2017 approaches.

What’s all the fuss?

For the first time since August 7, 1869 (That’s 148 years!) a total solar eclipse will come to Missouri, and, weather permitting, the next one will be even better than the last one. The 1869 eclipse only clipped the northeast corner of our state. The 2017 eclipse will begin its sweep from the northwest corner to Cape Girardeau (see eclipse map). Depending upon where you are in the state, the eclipse will begin between 11:30 am and noon. It will continue until between 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm.

The path of totality will go over 42 of our state parks and historic sites and 22 of the KATY Trailheads. Of all of our sites, Felix Valle wil have the longest totality of more than 2 min 40 seconds. Even the parts of Missouri farthest from the path will experience a partail eclipse in which over 92% of the sun is covered and even that will be spectacular! (Missouri Dept of Natural Resources)

It’ll pass near and through major cities:

It’s an interesting fact that this eclipse path cuts right through the middle of several very large cities. If you’re in St. Louis or Kansas City, you need to be in a certain part of town to see totality. Nashville is partially in totality. Portland OR misses it, as does Atlanta and Chattanooga. Bowling Green is barely in the path. Greenville SC is, but Spartanburg isn’t! And Charlotte misses as well. Omaha is not in the path, but Lincoln is – just barely. And the great national Parks of Yellowstone/Grand Teton, and the Great Smoky Mountains are cut in half by the path. But Craters of the Moon misses the show! The Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky will be perfect, weather permitting! But if you want to be there to see it, then you need to be in the right spot! Check out the maps to make sure you’re there! (Eclipse2017.org)

Confused? The image below illustrates the path, with the center blue line being total darkness.

This image shows how a partial eclipse will go through part of the St Louis region.

If you’re in the City of St. Louis on August 21st you won’t experience the eclipse — except those on the South side will experience a partial eclipse.

Where you are will determine how long you’ll experience it. If you’re in Tower Grove Park you’ll get 27 seconds. However, if you’re in Carondelet Park you’ll have over a minute.

Those South & West of the city will experience it. The closer you are to the blue line the the darker it’ll be and the longer it’ll last.

On August 21st we plan to drive about an hour to be on the blue line to experience the full total eclipse  — nearly 3 minutes long! Yes, a 2-hour round trip for just under 3 minutes of the solar eclipse. Our eclipse glasses arrived Friday.

Use the links above, search for more, or look at Wikipedia for additional information. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Is New CWE Project Too Much Density?

July 9, 2017 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Is New CWE Project Too Much Density?
 
Please vote below

The 1-story storefront/warehouse at 4534 Olive St has stood for nearly a century. From March 2015:

Every resident will get a balcony or a deck at a four-story apartment building to be constructed on piers over an 89-year-old Central West End warehouse.

Planned are 22 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom apartments in the new building at 4534 Olive Street and an adjoining structure built in 1900. The warehouse will provide garage parking for residents. (Post-Dispatch)

City records show both buildings were built in 1926, the adjacent building has 2-floors.

The warehouse occupies the entire lot — 100 foot of street frontage and all the way to the alley. The 1-story street facade was retained but a new tower contains 29-30 apartments.

Today’s poll is about the resulting density of this project. Is it too much?

This poll will close at 8pm tonight, The results and my thoughts & photos of the finished project on Wednesday.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bills 95-98

July 7, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: Board Bills 95-98
 
St. Louis City Hall

There are 4 new bills to be introduced at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen today.

ON AGENDA FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 7/7/17:

Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced if they suspend the rules to do so. As of 9:15pm last nigh the pages containing the full PDF of each bill were not yet public. Note: Links added below on 7/14/17 @ 1:15am.

  • B.B.#95 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports and the Comptroller of the City owner and operator of St. Louis Lambert International Airport to enter into and execute the “Hunter Engineering Lease Agreement AL-004” between the City and Hunter Engineering, granting to the Lessee, subject to and in accordance with the terms, covenants, and conditions of the Agreement, certain rights and privileges in connection with the occupancy and use of the Premises, which is defined and more fully described in Section 201 of the Lease Agreement that was approved by the Airport Commission and is attached hereto as ATTACHMENT “1” and made a part hereof, and its terms are more fully described in Section One of this Ordinance; containing a severability clause; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#96 – Coatar – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Mayor and Comptroller to execute, upon receipt of an in consideration of the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) and other good and valuable consideration, a Quit Claim Deed to remise, release and forever quit-claim unto Midtown Locust Properties, LLC certain City-owned property located in City Block 74, which property is known as 910 South 4th Street.
  • B.B.#97 – Vaccaro – An ordinance amending Ordinance 68536, permitting the seamless transfer of a liquor license between a company selling their business and the company purchasing the business.
  • B.B.#98 – Green – An ordinance amending the City of St. Louis Revised Code to add certain protections for the homeless.

The meeting begins at 10am, it can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session. Next week’s meeting will be the last prior to their Summer break.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: Grand Blvd & Forest Park Ave One Of Many Intersections That Should Be Redesigned

July 5, 2017 Featured Comments Off on Opinion: Grand Blvd & Forest Park Ave One Of Many Intersections That Should Be Redesigned
 

A slim majority (52,75%) of those who voted in Sunday’s poll agree with St. Louis Magazine’s Chris Naffziger that the intersection of Grand Blvd & Forest Park Ave — continuing East to Market/I-64 — should be replaced:

The solution to the morass of broken asphalt, crumbling overpasses and roaring traffic requires St. Louis to look to the past design of the neighborhood. I am not claiming that every aspect of St. Louis’s past is worth emulating, but I do know that the built environment was much more equitable for pedestrians. The interstate-like entrance ramps from Forest Park Avenue to Highway 40 should be replaced, removing the huge swaths of dead space, and allowing for a safer pedestrian environment. I feel bad for the residents of the Council Plaza apartment buildings; most are elderly, and they are forced to cross wide streets, with speeding cars threatening them, and sidewalks that are shattered to pieces from wear and tear. Redesigning this area is more than just reviving historic urban planning; it is about providing an equitable built environment for all people, pedestrian and motorist, young and old. (St. Louis Magazine)

I agree. Over six years ago I talked about this area in the context of the then Del Taco “flying saucer” at Grand & Forest Park. In that post I included a 1958 aerial image I’d purchased from HistoricAerials.com. In 1958 Forest Park Ave ended at Grand on the East — the land was being cleared to connect it to Market Street. The Danial Boone Expressway, later highway 40/I-64. hadn’t been built this far East yet either.

1958 aerial of Grand & Forest Park before highway 40. Click image to see June 2011 post where I first used this image.
This is a cropped version of the above, focusing on Grand to Compton. Click image to see larger version in new tab/window.

The tight street grid has been repeatedly screwed up over the years…in the name of progress. Meanwhile, the population has continued to drop. Decades ago St. Louisans willfully followed Harland Bartholomew as he forcefully reshaped the city, and by extension, the region. into an auto-centric mess at the expense of the pedestrian, cyclist, and transit user.

The area around Grand Blvd & Forest Park Ave has been decimated on purpose. Crime rose as a result. Saint Louis University made matters worse by fencing the campus off from the city.

Looking East from Grand Blvd. Aug 2012
A lone SLU student walking at Grand & Forest Park, Aug 2013
Compton % I-64/Forest Park Ave, Aug 2012

If St. Louis wants to recover it must remake itself for humans — not just those driving.

b

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis should replace Forest Park Ave going under Grand Blvd with a conventional at-grade intersection.

  • Strongly agree 15 [37.5%]
  • Agree [10 25%]
  • Somewhat agree 2 [5%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [5%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [5%]
  • Disagree 4 [10%]
  • Strongly disagree 5 [12.5%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

b

b

I don’t think the city/region has the political will to reverse Bartholomew’s lasting legacy.

— Steve Patterson

 

Judge: Special Business District Did Not Comply With State Law, Board Members Failed To Disclose Conflicts of Interest

July 3, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy, Taxes Comments Off on Judge: Special Business District Did Not Comply With State Law, Board Members Failed To Disclose Conflicts of Interest
 
In 2013 The Locust Business District completed a fenced surface parking lot on Olive.

In January 2016 the Locust Business District was sued by a property owner within the district. Last month the property owner, Bob Wood, was victorious. Yes, for 18 months he’s tried to improve transparency of just one of the city’s many special districts. From March:

But for more than a year, Bob Wood has been battling in court with the Locust Business District, which collects a special property tax estimated to bring in about $325,000 this year to fund security and events in an area stretching from Downtown West to Midtown.

Wood, the owner of the Majestic Stove and Adler Lofts in the district, took his case to trial in St. Louis Circuit Court this week, where his attorney, Elkin Kistner, grilled Locust Business District board members about meeting minutes, budgeting and the tedium of administering a taxing district.

Wood said he was looking for Judge Joan Moriarty to say that some of the district’s management and budgeting practices were illegal. A ruling in the case is expected in about two months. (Post-Dispatch)

I’ve been following the case since it was filed. The ruling was in Wood’s favor:

Budget practices at the Locust Business District did not comply with Missouri law, board members failed to disclose conflicts of interest and the district made unlawful donations of tax money, a St. Louis judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling by St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Joan Moriarty caps over a year of litigation against the special taxing district, which uses property taxes to pay for security, marketing and events in an area stretching from Downtown West to midtown. (Post-Dispatch)

Judge Moriarity’s 16-page ruling doesn’t mince words, for example:

The District routinely spends money without Board approval. Its Rules, Policies and Procedures explicitly authorize expenditures by the Chairman of the Board of up tp $2,500 without board approval.

The Board frequently considers matters presented to it by Commissions who have personal, financial interests in those matters. Such matters present conflicts of interest. Commissioners who are so conflicted do not make written disclosures of the nature of those conflicts, nor do they always refrain from participating in Board discussions of, and votes on, such matters. (See ruling

By some estimates there are at least 100 such districts in the greater St. Louis region, there are probably at least a few more like this. Don’t expect your elected official to make sure this doesn’t happen — it can benefit them greatly.

— Steve Patterson

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