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Forest Park/BJC Lease Advisory Committee

The 1pm special committee meeting on the Forest Park/BJC deal started a bit late and in a different conference room than was posted (230 vs. 234). It appears that banker and former head of Downtown Now! Thomas Reeves has been asked by the mayor to join the committee.

Gary Best, Director of Parks for the City, outlined how we got to this point. One of the things I found interesting was in discussing the two appraisals — one obtained by BJC and one obtained by the Comptroller’s office. He acknowledged it was no surprise that BJC’s appraisal was less. So how did they arrive at the final price? They “split the difference” between the two.


Sorry, but when the city has an appraisal we don’t split the difference. The city’s appraisal is also from late 2004 and is now considered by many, including myself, to be potentially low.

Ald. Bosley Sr. brought up some interesting points. First, he said he was certain that BJC already had some idea what they intended to do with the land. He wanted to know what that plan is.

Bosley Sr. also said the Treasurer’s office is concerned about the parking meters along the East edge of the current park space. This parking area was once part of the old Kingshighway (a 130ft right of way per Gary Bess). Bosley was suspicious that BJC would return to the city in the future to ask for much that 130ft right of way, leaving just enough for Euclid Ave. He is right, they will certainly come back and ask for that land because they are not going to construct new buildings and leave that as-is.

The committee went into a closed session to discuss hiring an appraiser. I have to wonder how much the Comptroller’s Office spent on the first appraisal and how much we’ll spend on a new appraisal.

Lots of figures are being thrown around. One of which was mentioned again by Park Director Gary Bess: $4.5 million per year to maintain Forest Park. That is a current figure. But what will the figure be over the next 90 years? What guarantee’s do we have that Forest Park Forever will be able to sustain a 90-year match of BJC’s lease payment. Will this maintenance be minimal cutting grass type maintenance or will it be sufficient to cover all the capital improvements at their current level.

I’m afraid we are creating a situation for many generations to come where the park’s basic maintenance is not longer covered much less keep up all the new structures, bridges and water features. This may be an issue as little as 20-30 years from now.

– Steve


Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Craig says:

    A question about the maintenance of Forest Park: Six months ago (or longer) I recall that the Taylor family trust donated a substantial sum that would endow a maintenance fund for the park. At the time, the media implied, or maybe even directly stated, that the donation would provide all of the money needed to maintain the park. Next thing I know, I am hearing about a sales tax increase and the selling of part of the park to BJC.

    Does anyone know more about the Taylor donation?

  2. Craig says:

    Okay, despite KSDK’s portrayal of the donation, it was only enough to generate about $250,000 a year for the park. Very generous, but not enough to cover all of the maintenance.

  3. Jean says:

    My understanding is the city did not pay for either appraisal. BJC paid for one and Wash U paid for the other. I understand having someone else pay for the appraisal is common practice for the city.

    [REPLY – I don’t recall but it was acknowledged in the meeting yesterday that BJC & Wash U are heavily interconnected. If Wash U did pay for the other appraisal then I’d have to question both of them as reliable. If you are selling your house you don’t rely on the buyer giving you what their appraial says it is worth. – SLP]


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