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An Update on Lucas Park

March 24, 2014 Downtown, Featured, Homeless, Parks 33 Comments

The land that’s now Lucas Park was given to St. Louis by the Lucas family in the 1850s. Read about Lucas Place, now Locust, and Lucas Park here. In the last couple of decades the park became the gather place for the homeless downtown. For a couple of years the park has been closed as it undergoes a much-needed refresh. Slowly the park has been opening up again.

Lucas Park yesterday
Lucas Park yesterday, the former center fountain is now filled in with lawn grass
Temporary fencing remains up to allow the grass and perennials to get well established
Temporary fencing remains up to allow the grass and perennials to get well established
At the west end a former playground now has exercise equipment.
At the west end a former playground now has exercise equipment. I’ve yet to see this get used.
The east end has new children's playground equipment
The east end has new children’s playground equipment, the playground is frequently used.
Belongings of the homeless surround the park at the base of the construction fence.
Belongings of the homeless surround the park at the base of the construction fence.

Old habits don’t die easily. 

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "33 comments" on this Article:

  1. Sgt Stadanko says:

    i hope they can keep the homeless out of this park once finished. that is how how a lot of these parks fall to the wayside. the homeless deter people from the park, meanwhile, they have their belongings all over the place. they are like animals, and defecate in the park. unfortunately, the are like roaches, you uproot them, them will gather someplace else. but hopefully they can find another park to destroy. thanks -Sarge

    • Sean McElligott says:

      The city needs to shutdown NLEC. That would help out downtown and the homeless. Rice should not be able to hold back downtown so he can get a tax write off. Dose any one know when the city would make a decision on NLEC and how the meetings are going?

    • Mark says:

      I question Steve’s final comment: “Old habits don’t die easily”. They appear to reinforce “Sarge’s” comments about the impact the homeless are having in downtown STL. (It’s possible I misinterpreted Steve’s intentions, but Sarge’s were loud and clear!) To a lesser extent, certain City residents’ preoccupation with cleansing downtown of homeless can be compared to Hitler’s obsession with cleansing society of the Jews. Hitler determined that Jews represented an element that decayed society from within–which appears to be the sentiment of some loft dwellers and downtown merchants and downtown business people about the homeless. The redesign of the park appears to be an intentional effort to dissuade the homeless’ use of the park by removing the fountain which provided opportunity for them to cool off during a hot, muggy summer afternoon, gather under the trees, well away from the asphalt streets and parking lots, or to catch up on needed rest. I live out of the country now and return to STL infrequently for meetings, but it’s remarkable to me how the differently the homeless are regarded in the US vs around Europe. I still can’t sort out why/how the loft dwellers can move into an area where the homeless’ roots were well established, then expect the homeless to move away because they’re not pretty….much like we did to the American Indians a few years ago!

      • I see & talk to the homeless daily, I’ve served on the board of a service agency. I’m an advocate for apartments for the chronic homeless and places where the temporarily homeless can store their meager possessions.
        But I’m curious about the appeal of this particular park, seeing stuff lined up around the perimeter surprised me.

        • Mark 2 says:

          The appeal is that the park is close to the NLEC and next door to the Central Library. If you have ever used the Central Library which I do frequently, you soon come to the realization that this is where many of the homeless people go during the day when they can not get into the NLEC. When its cold out, there is often a line of homeless waiting at the door for the library to open. The NLEC provides no counseling or work training so the homeless are left on their own most of the day and the park is one of the few grassy areas in close proximity. Now look at it from the residents POV, if you had children would you take them to a park where dozens of grown men, some possibly mentally ill were hanging around? Probably not.

      • Mark 2 says:

        The NLEC attract a homeless population that is not native to our area but offering free meals and an occasional bed, but beyond these offering does nothing to move these people into a better life. Not only is the NLEC deficient in it’s mission, it fails to take any responsibility whatsoever for the people it attracts during the majority of the day leaving them to fend for them selves on our streets. Like any community, the residents shouldn’t have to put up with non-resident homeless people many of them mentally ill and dangerous being attracted to our neighborhood by an irresponsible neighbor such as the NLEC. To compare the homeless issue with the plight of the Jews during WW2 or the American Indians goes beyond irresponsible, bordering on insanity. It’s beyond me why so many people feel it necessary to bad mouth loft owners who are trying to make their community a better and safer place for their families to live. The park is for residents and guests of the area to enjoy, it is not a bathroom, shower facility, or dormitory for transients. I suspect you do nothing in your own community to resolve these issues, other than push your problems into the city, and your fear stems from the demand that outlying areas start to accept responsibility for their own neighbors.

      • Jason Stokes says:

        Godwin’s law. Your argument is now invalid.

        • Mark says:

          @ Jason Stokes: My statement about Hitler had nothing to do with Godwin’s law (which by the way is not based on deductive reasoning–but rather on personal opinion). My comparison was based rather on the argumentative device called Modus Ponens, which while not a law of logic, is in fact a recognized argumentative device of deductive reasoning to reach a conclusion. Under Modus Ponens, if the first statement is true (about Hitler), then the second statement is true, based on the first and based on the comparison and CONTEXT OF THE COMPARISON. You may not agree with the argument, but you can’t disagree with the comparison. IN ANY CASE, both Hitler AND those who are opposed to the ways of the downtown homeless are making value judgments based on personal prejudices and personal experience, all of which attempt to eradicate a certain segment of the downtown population. If not un-American, it is certainly un-American in spirit!

          @Mark2: NLEC is only ONE of a few downtown agencies that house and feed and otherwise assist the homeless, and therefore it is unlikely that only those who “contaminate” Lucas Park are among the NLEC residents. So your efforts should be directed toward assisting not just NLEC’s management personnel but St. Patrick’s et al. as well, toward developing programs that will continue to assist those who need assistance, not toward denying the homeless ANY hope for getting through life without the blessings and benefits that the rest of us enjoy. And I acknowledge that MOST of us have earned our blessings (which is really important in my eyes) but we can’t ignore personal suffering among our population just because we’re pissed off at the welfare system! And, in my opinion, use of that park is among the few benefits (other than food and housing) that the homeless can enjoy! Your argument appears to single-out NLEC. Don’t St. Patrick’s residents also use the park? I now live in Germany, and there are several programs available there to assist the homeless. And while I am not blowing my own home, I am involved there, just AS I USED TO BE INVOLVED AT NLEC when my family lived in the STL region. My boys, wife and I spent several Thanksgiving and Christmas days preparing and serving food at NLEC’s holiday meals. And while I don’t necessarily agree with everything that goes on at NLEC, I recognize it as an attempt to make the best of a horrible situation. So, rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, why not try to save the baby but flush the dirty water down the commode?

          By the way, the new Musial bridge is great and speaks well of the design professionals and contractors who orchestrated the effort! And the work underway on the arch grounds is a compliment to whichever agencies were responsible for negotiating the much-needed improvement to the Riverfront! And I’m glad to see IKEA has finally committed to a store in STL. Things here seem to be advancing well.

          • mark 2 says:

            Mark 1, it is obvious that you really do not have a clue on what is going on here. Downtown residents are not apposed to the homeless or to most of the organizations such as St. Patrick’s Center that operate in our neighborhood. Unlike the NLEC, St Patrick’s Center operates with a goal of rehabilitation and is not simply a warehouse using the homeless to attract donations. Unlike the NLEC, St. Patrick’s center provides direction for their people and helps get them back on their feet. On the other hand the NLEC continually solicits donations while doing nothing to promote the health and safety of the people who they are attracting. The problem with the NLEC goes much deeper as they have refused to take responsibility of any of their actions or the results thereof. If you mission is to attract a large number of vagrants into a residential area and than cast them out to wonder the streets than the NLEC can be considered a success. It is obvious that you have some sort of issue with residents and feel the need to put words in this discussion that don’t originate from anyone that lives here such as “contaminate”. And really how dare you judge hard working people who are trying to promote the growth, health and safety of their community and call them offensive names? Before you judge others you should first try and get a handle on what makes you so bitter and condescending. Maybe you will take heed of good advice and walk awhile in someone’s else’s shoes before making a judgment.

          • Mark says:

            Again, the discussion is about Lucas Park. Sarge’s post and Steve’s final comment sparked my response. My comments were directed to the design changes that APPEAR to have been made to the park, possibly in response to the outcry among downtown residents et al. regarding the homeless problems associated with the park and downtown in general. Whether NLEC management pockets the funds intended for the homeless, whether or not they make efforts to rehabilitate their residents, whether or not they mentor them with regard to their personal health or the growth, health and safety of the community….is NOT the issue. The issue is that whether the homeless reside at St. Patrick’s, at NLEC, at the Salvation Mission or wherever, .they’re going to end up congregating at the park, and unless 20′ walls are constructed around the park, you’ll see them doing their thing there in the park. If 20′ walls are in fact erected, with gates equipped with electric strikes and controlled by FOBS, then you’ll have that on your conscience. If you can live with that. so be it. I’ll never try to change you. (But like inmates in a jail cell who in weeks can find every security design flaw in the cell, I’m confident the homeless can be crafty, and can easily outsmart those who built the wall!)

            No, I have no issues with downtown residents and/or downtown living. If I were single and childless, I’d consider living there. But I’m not, so I won’t!

            …..oh, and this Alabama-born hick accepts my “gold star” with all the sincerity, guilelessness and probity with which it was offered.

          • mark2 says:

            How would you feel if people came into your community and trashed your front yard, peed on your front door, set up tents in the property next store and started using drugs and dumping their trash where ever it fell? What if every time you walked out your front door, there was someone standing there asking for money? It would probably get annoying and you might have concerns about the safety of your family members. And you would probably want to correct the problem wouldn’t you? Now how would you feel if every time you tried to correct the problem, someone form the next town called you names, compared you to Hitler, questioned your motives, or outright supported the rights of transients over honest hard working families who have invested in making St. Louis a better place? You would probably be a little irate that someone with no skin in the game was being such an ass wouldn’t you? Well give it some thought and perhaps you could keep your unfounded opinions on how the residents should run their business to your self. This is a park that is being developed through efforts of the residents, it is not being developed as a refugee camp.

          • Mark says:

            How would you feel if you lived for an established period of time the best way you could in an area of the community, and then outsiders invaded your turf and scorned you because you were poor, un-or-under-employed, had a drinking problem that couldn’t be hidden behind a 6′ privacy fence, or the victim of a poor economy, wore torn trousers and carried around your worldly possessions on your shoulder, and suddenly you were confronted with the possibility of being evicted from your community because you were some or all of those things, or weren’t pretty, or rich, or whatever. How would you feel and where would you piss if you just had to piss and were denied access to a restroom because your clothes were dirty, or because you hadn’t shaved over a week because someone on the streets had stolen your razor? How would you feel if you couldn’t afford to wash your clothes to clean yourself up enough so that the restaurant manager down the street maybe wouldn’t notice (or smell you) when you walked through their front door to use the restroom? How would you feel if there wasn’t even a close-by laundromat available for you to wash your clothes? How would you feel if you had a drinking problem and felt like alcohol was the only pleasure left in life and so “what the hell”–but couldn’t “hide” your problem because there was really no where to hide!! And how would you feel about YOUR new neighbors if you were the victim of all or some of these hardships but also smart enough to understand the age-old real estate motto “location, location, location” or “buyer beware”–or both! Safety of your family members? Did you not feel that threat before you signed your rental/purchase agreement? WHAT CHANGED, other than you? Or possibly you failed to do your do-diligence. Shame on you! It’s no different from buying a house in an established neighborhood, then waking up the next morning to learn that all the other houses on the block are rentals! Gonna force the government to evict all those renters so that you feel better about living in the neighborhood?

            I wonder if you would have bought or rented your loft if a drug rehab facility had been operational across the street. That facility would also have attracted some potentially unsavory characters whose presence on the streets might also have compromised your sense of security and safety “for your family”. And if you had failed to notice the drug rehab across the street, do you think you’d have good chances of later getting it closed down because it was “bad for the neighborhood”?

            Bull shit! They were there first! Who’s next on your list of undesirables (your list of those not worthy of sharing your space)? Blacks? Whites? Japanese? Bosnian? Chinese? Got a thing about Vietnamese because your dad had a thing about them from the 60s? Blind people (those annoying audio alarms on the crosswalks!)? People who fail to clean up after their dogs (EVICT ALL THE DOGS!)?

            The park’s upgrade may be privately funded, but the park ownership hasn’t been transferred to a private party. Therefore, it is a public park, accessible to anyone whose name isn’t on the national sex offender list. Just like Forest Park, Tower Grove, Christy Park, Fairgrounds Park! Do you think everyone who uses those parks lives up to your standards? And even if your group were to find a way to purchase the park, good luck trying to keep out the homeless! They’re persistent because they have lots of time on their hands.

            And what happens if next year, it is decided that YOU don’t live up to the standards of those who also reside in your loft building? Are you gonna move voluntarily? Maybe they don’t like your cologne. Your hair style. The car you drive (it’s too loud!, too much rust, not shiny enough, wrong brand, too old to live up to our standards!)

            You’ve got to get over being angry with yourself because you failed to fully investigate your rental/purchase. Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff. In 5 years, whatever money you lost on your loft purchase will be forgotten about. And you’ll easily recover from any inconvenience you experienced because you had to watch a homeless person peeing on your sidewalk beside the pile of shit that was left there from the Beagle who lives 2 levels up from you!)

            Oh, and I am hardly a typical person from the “next town”. I lived in the STL region for nearly 3 years before accepting a position in Germany. And now I’ve got to go to work, so that I don’t end up being one of your less-fortunate neighbors!

          • Mark2 says:

            Angry? I am not angry but apparently you are for some reason. These are transients we are talking about . They don’t live in my neighborhood and are not my neighbors. They didn’t grow up downtown, so to say that they have some sort of right to an area because they happen to be moving through it is unrealistic. What changed? Well what changed is that some of us have re-invested in the growth of the city and have a financial stake in it’s success. We are not all talk with nothing behind it like you. What if they showed up at your door tomorrow and decided to camp out in your back yard and pee on he back of your home? Would you make some sort of insane argument that somehow they have squatters rights? Again you have no clue on what is taking place here and your just someone who feels like they have a right to tell everyone how they should run their lives. The residents downtown will do what is right for neighbors and the area and we really don’t need people like you “who live in Germany” to tell us what we should or should not be doing with our community. As responsible property owners who care about what happens downtown and in our community we will make decisions that are right for us, not decisions based on emotion and a lack of knowledge. Get over it, and mind your own business. If you still feel strongly enough about the homeless situation than by all means takes some of them into your home, but quit trying to tell everyone’s else what to do..

          • Mark says:

            @Mark2: This is my last post before I get on the plane. I’ll be back in 4 months, and I hope to have another spirited discussion with you about how your neighbors should be regarded and treated. But before I leave:
            1) You should put your car in reverse! You initiated this discussion and anticipated a preconceived outcome. Sorry that didn’t work out.
            2) What changed? You failed to answer my question, Mark2. You made the decision to “re-invest in the growth of the city….” AFTER your homeless neighbors had long occupied the area. They obviously DON’T have merely squatters’ rights because some of them live down the street from you at Larry’s place, while some live at St. Pat’s, and others live in Lucas Park! All enjoy prestigious downtown addresses, just as you do, Mark2!
            3)Where I live, far away from the large city, there are no homeless people camping out anywhere near my home. So I don’t have that issue to deal with. All I have to deal with at this point is the problem of wild critters attacking my livestock. But I can’t complain much, Mark2, because the critters were there first, and my goats arrived later. It’s up to me to outsmart the critters, Mark2. And I’m working on it, and I refuse to resort to a shotgun! Mmmmmmmm–sound like a familiar problem? You should work on “solving” your critter problem too, Mark2! Don’t go after them with an exterminating spray. Deal with them on their turf, Mark2.
            4) St Louis IS my business, Mark2. I still own two homes in west St. Louis City that I rent out, and I still have friends and colleagues living in and around STL. I lived here three years. St. Louis is very much a part of my past..
            5) Have a good day,Mark2. Get over your buyer’s remorse. And remember this: the next time you see some gent kindly pissing all over your sidewalk, don’t be too shocked! “Parts be parts,” Mark2. They come in all shapes and sizes. No reason to be alarmed! And don’t forget that urine is sterile, so what’s the harm?

          • wump says:

            west st louis city is not a place

        • Eric4364 says:

          On the contrary, I think he won by default when the previous poster called the homeless “animals” and “roaches”.

          • moe says:

            Really? so you’re more comfortable calling the homeless Roaches and Animals. PATHETIC.

          • Mark says:

            Moe: I think you may have misinterpreted Eric’s comment. Eric might have written, ” On the contrary, I think he won by default. In my opinion, the previous poster lost the argument when he referred to the homeless as animals and roaches.”

          • Eric4364 says:

            Mark is correct, that’s what I meant.

          • moe says:

            Actually, my comment was directed at Jason for him calling Mark’s argument invalid.

          • Sgt Stadanko says:

            this is sarge and yes, these indigents are like animals because they urinate and deficate in parks and sidewalks, and they are like roaches, because you can’t get rid of them. i have to live among this filth and i am ready to move out of downtown. those bleeding hearts that are so appalled by my comments obviously don’t live downtown. thanks, sarge

      • stlsig says:

        I nominate the comment above for worst comment of the week. Anytime you can tie the homeless conversation to Hitler and the American Indians, you deserve a gold star.

        • Mark says:

          Thanks for the award. I appreciate your expression of sincere appreciation. I would, however, ask you to explain definitively why “Hitler and Native American Indians” cannot be tied in discussion about attitudes toward the homeless. (I say they can, and I’ve listed a few examples. You say they can’t. Tell me why– or, as in the words of my Holy Cross philosophy teacher several years ago, “If so, why so; if not, why not, giving specifics and examples to support your statements.”

          • stlsig says:

            Mark – The use of sensationalism to make a point only makes your point less valid. Based upon your responses to Mark2 and others, you didn’t come to discuss the post, you came to dictate your philosophy to everyone else. So in that way, maybe it’s ok for you to use Hitler as an example. It seems that you, like him, prefer to tell people how it is rather than have a conversation. Carry on.

  2. wump says:

    fence the park so no one can use it, great idea, thanks bill seedhoff {sp} (he seems like a nice guy, that doesn’t really cut it though)

  3. wump says:

    fence the park so no one can use it, great idea, thanks bill seedhoff {sp} (he seems like a nice guy, that doesn’t really cut it though)

  4. RyleyinSTL says:

    Nice to see improvements finishing up here. Good parks are needed to keep more families downtown and is not a place for homeless camps. How we treat our most unfortunate citizens is a measure of our humanity. Letting people live in parks is disrespectful and shameful to us all. Hopefully this will draw more people to the park and have the effect of displacing the homeless who “live” here.

    More on the park: http://www.stlouiscitytalk.com/2014/03/lucas-gardens-park.html

  5. Dale Diversity says:

    Getting rid of the fountain is good. They weren’t maintaining it, and it will help keep the trash out of the park.

    • The fountain was one of the few reasons why I ever entered the park.

    • moe says:

      Great….Just Fracking great…now we can compare homeless people to trash. Or is it that paper wrappers and cups are somehow mysteriously attracted to spraying water?

      • Brian Ireland says:

        First, to state that Rev. Rice and the NLEC offer no assistance to the poor is factually incorrect. I’m not going to detail all of their services, but they are extensive. Anyone who claims differently is either sorely misinformed or has an agenda. Second, it’s great that the park is being rehabbed, and there’s no reason visitors, the homeless and downtown residents cannot co-exist, not only at Lucas Park, but in the Loft District in general. Demonizing any of the aforementioned groups is counterproductive and comes across as vindictive and mean-spirited.

        • moe says:

          I agree Brian…but re-read what I posted and, more importantly, what/who it was in response too.

  6. Sgt Stadanko says:

    for those of you that don’t have the pleasure of living by larry rice’s roach hotel, i mean… new life evangelistic center. i risked getting mugged to get this shot. this is right across the street from this park we are talking about.


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