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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We Bought a Newer Car With Lots of Technology

April 9, 2018 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on We Bought a Newer Car With Lots of Technology
 
The 2007 Honda Civic EX we bought in April 2014.

Last month my husband David and I bought a newer used car to replace the 2007 Civic EX we bought four years ago, see No Longer Car-Free.  This is my 15th car in the 35 years I’ve been driving. I’ve seen a lot of new automotive technology be introduced end become mainstream.

I took my drivers exam in 1983 in my mom’s 1974 Dodge Dart. It had manual windows, door locks. I don’t think it even had a right side mirror. It was 9 years old but it seemed ancient. At 15 I bought a 1974 Mustang II  — sold it before I turned 16. After I got my license I began driving my brother’s 1971 Dodge Demon — nothing like today’s Demon.

Here’s a summary of when I got new automotive technology

  • 1983: power seat & moonroof in a 1975 Mercury Monarch
  • 1984: power windows, flip up sunroof in a 1979 Ford Fairmont Futura
  • 1986: manual transmission, front wheel drive in a 1984 Dodge Colt (Mitsubishi)
  • 1993: central locking, manual steel sunroof, turbo, 4 wheel disc brakes, fuel injection in a 1987 Volvo 740 Turbo
  • 1998: Side marker  turn signals on two 1986 Saab 900S — one S 4-door and one Turbo 3-door
  • 2000: ABS brakes, airbags, remote locks in a 2000 VW Golf
  • 2004: All wheel drive in a 1999 Audi A4 Avant

There were many more cars, but they didn’t offer any new technology that I hadn’t had before. Basically new cars have added one or two new things. Last month we got lots of new tech all at once.

Our newish car in front of Broadway Oyster Bar

Our 2015 Sonata is the top trim level — Limited — with both optional packages: tech & ultimate. The only option ours doesn’t have is a more powerful turbo engine.

We first saw this car at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The primary feature we wanted was memory seat & mirrors.  Since we share one car we’ve spent the last 4 years adjusting the driver’s seat and both mirrors each time we get into the car after the other drove it.  Competition like the top level Accord has had a memory seat since 2013, but no memory mirrors even in 2018 models.  The Camry still doesn’t have either.

David has experienced many of these before via Enterprise CarShare and rental cars. For me, these are very new:

  • Proximity “key” allows me to open car doors without removing the fob from my pocket. Approaching the locked trunk and waiting a few seconds will open the trunk lid. Some cars require you to wave a foot under the back of the car — I couldn’t physically do that. Inside the fob stays in my pocket. This lets me use my one good hand to worry about my cane.
  • On a related note, when you press the off button the seat moves back to give you more room to exit — very helpful for me.
  • Still adjusting to the back up camera and how the rear view mirrors tilt down while in reverse.
  • The rear cross traffic alert is helpful when backing out of parking spaces. It detects vehicles and pedestrians.
  • The blind spot detection warning is amazing. Whenever a vehicle is in a blind spot an orange light displays on the appropriate side mirror. If you signal to get into a lane with someone in the blind spot the car beeps at you. Last year we test drove a 2013 Honda Accord EX-L with Lane Watch. We weren’t impressed with Honda’s blind spot system — nothing on the left and for the right you don’t look at the right mirror — you look at the center screen to see if there’s a car. Huh?
  • Lane departure warning is good on well marked roads when it’s dry out.
  • Front collision warning will beep at you to stop before hitting something in front of you. David says it went off when a car changed lanes right in front of the car in front of him. Impressive. What baffles mw is Hyundai didn’t include emergency braking in case the driver doesn’t hit the brakes in time — this was added the next year.
  • I used the adaptive cruise control for the first time yesterday — driving to/from St. Charles, Remarkable.  While using the cruise control it van automatically stop the car, so I’m told.

For more on my first time driving this car see a feature on Curbed.

The amount of new tech is a bit overwhelming. The list above isn’t complete, there is more. As I get more miles behind the wheel I’ll post addition thoughts. I’ll also compare the car to competition and tech offered from other manufacturers. In addition to lacking emergency braking, I wish it had start/stop technology. The hybrid version of the current generation Sonata didn’t come out until the next year, 2016. When we replace this car in about 5 years I hope to get a plug-in hybrid.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Which of the Seven Candidates for St. Louis County Executive Would You LIKE to Win in November 2018?

April 8, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Which of the Seven Candidates for St. Louis County Executive Would You LIKE to Win in November 2018?
 
Please vote below

You’ve likely been seeing political commercials in the race for St. Louis County Executive. The primary for Republican & Democratic candidates will be held August 7th — just over 3 months from now. We already know the unchallenged Libertarian & Constitution candidates will win their primaries.

The seven candidates from four political parties, listed in alphabetical order:

Today’s poll asks which of these seven candidates you’d like to see win in November. Not who you think will win — who you’d like to see win.

This poll will close automatically at 8pm, but will be closed earlier if voting irregularities are detected — such as campaigns to make a candidate the winer by emailing supporters to vote in the poll.

— Steve Patterson

New Cafe Will Train Disabled Persons For Work In Hospitality Industry

April 6, 2018 Featured Comments Off on New Cafe Will Train Disabled Persons For Work In Hospitality Industry
 

Very likely many of you have had periods of unemployment — you get your resume out there and get a new job. For disabled Americans it isn’t as easy, resulting in a significantly higher rate of unemployment — or, conversely, a lower rate of employment:

The portion of working-age disabled Americans who are employed averaged 29.3% last year, up from 26.8% in 2013, figures from the Labor Department and Moody’s Analytics show. That’s still far lower than the 73.5% of non-disabled Americans who were working, though the latter has not increased as sharply. The unemployment rate for disabled people is 8.8%, down from 16.9% in 2011, but more than double the U.S. jobless rate. (USA Today)

The problems are numerous — just getting in the door to gain needed experience can be difficult. To address this need Paraquad, through a Missouri Foundation for Health grant, has opened a new cafe.

The Bloom Café is a social enterprise of Paraquad, The Disability Experts, designed to help people with disabilities prepare for employment. The program has three stages:

  1. Training Program: Students complete a 12-week, skills-based curriculum where they study topics, such as food handling and preparation, and learn soft skills, such as .customer service and workplace etiquette.
  2. Paid Internship: Students progress to a short-term paid internship in the Bloom Café and other restaurants to build skills and experience.
  3. Job Placement: When interns are job-ready, Paraquad assists them in finding and maintaining jobs in the community.

Paraquad believes that everyone should be able to live and work independently. At The Bloom Café, we help make that possible. Students in our program take the first steps in building a career.(The Bloom Café)

Paraquad held the ribbon cutting on the first day of Spring — very appropriate.

The building that houses The Bloom Café and Paraquad was built in 1972. Paraquad has occupied the West end of the building for years, but Horner & Shifrin’s main office was on the East end until they moved near Union Station.
Inside Bloom Café has a contemporary feel, the space is flooded with natural light.
The primary facade faces North toward I-64 and Forest Park.
Like many places, you order at the front counter.
I got a selfie with Paraquad board chair, Paralympian, and former neighbor Kerri Morgan. I first met Kerri at Paraquad in early 2007 — before I became disabled from my stroke. Click photo to view the Wikipedia entry on her.

I wasn’t able to stay to try out any of the food the morning of the opening, but I will return soon to try it. Bloom Café is open for breakfast & lunch Monday-Saturday.  It is conveniently located at 5200 Oakland Ave — between the Science Center and Forest Park Community College.

As mentioned above, the building was built in 1972 — nearly 2 decades before the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990. Because we tend to design only for automobiles —  unless forced to consider pedestrians — there was no pedestrian route from the public sidewalk into any building entrance. The only option for pedestrians. like me, who arrived via public transit was to risk getting hit in the auto driveway. I’ve given Paraquad trouble about them not having corrected this.

November 2010
March 2012

So I was very happy to see they finally corrected the 1972 design.

A new walk now leads you from the public sidewalk/bus stop to Paraquad’s entry on the West side of the building.
The old straight-in parking has changed to angled parking to give room for a walkway between the building and parked cars.
To reach a ramp was added along Oakland Ave at the bus stop.

I’m very glad to see this change — still thousands of other properties that also need to be updated. We also need to stop building like this — an example is the Starbucks on Chippewa.

 

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: Region Needs A Major Restructuring

April 4, 2018 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: Region Needs A Major Restructuring
 
The last time anyone looked at the region was Harland Bartholomew’s 1947 plan, which called for 25 airports un the St, Louis region!

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was about a statewide vote to change the Missouri constitution to let the City of St. Louis back into St. Louis County. If you didn’t figure it out, it was an April Fool’s Day joke. The issue, however, is no joke.

Given the St. Louis metropolitan area is falling behind other regions in growth I don’t think doing nothing is a sound strategy.The entire region needs to act quickly or we’ll continue dropping in rankings of metropolitan areas. We’re good at lip service and doing little things that don’t change the big picture — just give us the illusion we’re progressing.

It’s time to end the fragmentation that exists on both sides of the river. Redraw political boundaries so the region can compete. We’ve got to attract immigrates and others to the region — not just get people to leave St. Louis City & County for St. Charles County.

Politicians must give up their little fiefdoms, which is why the needed change probably won’t happen.

Here are the results from the AFD poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Missouri voters will approve Constitutional Amendment A on August 7th, placing St. Louis back inside St. Louis County

  • Strongly agree 4 [12.5%]
  • Agree 3 [9.38%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [25%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [9.38%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [3.13%]
  • Disagree 3 [9.38%]
  • Strongly disagree 6 [18.75%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 4 [12.5%]

Please…someone prove me wrong.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis’ First Public School Opened 180 Years Ago Today

April 2, 2018 Education, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on St. Louis’ First Public School Opened 180 Years Ago Today
 
Couldn’t find an image of the first school, so here’d an early school:
Dumas Public School was located on Lucas just west of 14th, all razed when 14th was extended to Washington. Sanborn map via UMSL Digital Library

Free public education in St. Louis began 180 years ago today — 74 years after the city was founded:

The city was founded by the French in Spanish territory in 1764. French fur traders Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau founded St. Louis on high land just below the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. (Explore St. Louis)

The city’s population in 1830 was 4,977, but by 1840 was 16,469:

The children of St. Louis responded for the first time to the call of a public school bell. Private schools had long operated in the city, but until the Spring of 1838 there was no free general education. Land grants for schools were provided through the Louisiana cession and a board of school trustees was formed in 1817.Confusion over titles of the so-called “school lands” delayed the establishment of a school for several years. In 1831 a new school board was organized under an act of the Missouri legislature, and in 1837 plans were completed for two schoolhouses.

The first, Laclede Primary School at Fourth and Spruce streets, opened its doors April 2, providing elementary education for both boys and girls, and requiring tuition only from those who could afford to pay. The second school opened a few days later, and in 1841 the Benton School followed. Male teachers received a salary of $900 per year and female teachers received $500. (St. Louis Day by Day by Francis Hurd Stadler, page 62)

Well. poor white kids were now getting a basic education in this time before the Civil War. Keep in mind St. Louis University was founded two decades earlier, in 1818 — so only those who could afford private schools would’ve attended for decades. Washington University in St. Louis, also private, was founded 15 years after the first public school, in 1853.

I wanted to know more so I began searching:

In July 1837, the board agreed to build two school buildings, known as the North School and the South School, respectively located at the northeast corner of Broadway and Martin Luther King Boulevard (then Cherry Street) and at the southwest corner of 4th and Spruce streets. In December, the board met to purchase supplies and to interview potential teachers, and by March 1838, they had selected two candidates, David Armstrong and Miss M.H. Salisbury. The South School, later named Laclede Primary School, opened on April 1, 1838, with Edward Leavy and Sarah Hardy as co-principals.A third school, later named Benton School, opened in January 1842 at the northwest corner of 6th and Locust. The North School, for which the Board initially could not find a teacher, was abandoned and sold shortly after construction of Benton School due to the encroachment of a nearby market.

With the growth of the city, the school building campaign continued at a rapid pace. Between 1840 and 1860, more than twenty new schools were built by the Board, while several others occupied rented space. Among these new schools was the first high school in St. Louis, which opened inside Benton School in February 1853. Approximately 70 students enrolled in the school, and its first principal was Jeremiah D. Low. Courses offered included higher arithmetic, grammar and composition, basic and advanced algebra, geometry, trigonometry, surveying, navigation, and the Latin and German languages. The high school proved very popular among all social classes, and it encouraged attendance at lower level schools. After two years of construction, the first high school building, known as Central High School, opened on Olive Street in July 1855.

In 1848 William Greenleaf Eliot, the Unitarian clergyman in Saint Louis, was elected chair of the school board. He had a passion for creating schools. He and his congregants worked on a campaign to fund the expanding district. Only weeks after the St. Louis Fire of 1849, St. Louis voters approved a 1/10 percent property tax to support the district, and three years later, the Missouri General Assembly passed a school tax, which set aside 25 percent of state funds for education and provided schools with money depending on their enrollment. During the 1850s, it became a St. Louis school tradition for students at each school to “go a Maying”, which was to take an excursion into the countryside.[29] These early field trips were more for recreation than for learning, but school administrators regarded them as healthy trips.

School closed six weeks early in 1861 due to a lack of operating funds and the outbreak of the Civil War. After the Civil War, in 1866, the district opened three schools for African American students.

The St. Louis Public Schools also opened the first public high school for black students west of the Mississippi, Sumner High School, in 1875.

St. Louis Public Schools opened the first public kindergarten in North America in 1873 under the direction of William Torrey Harris, then Superintendent of Schools, and Susan Blow, who had studied the methods of Friedrich Fröbel, the founder of the kindergarten system.

By the end of the 19th century, the district had 95 schools and employed more than 1,600 teachers. (Wikipedia)

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