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Grand Opening, 8 More Miles of St. Louis’ MetroLink Light Rail System

IMG_4537.jpgMetro & elected officials kicked off a series of ribbon cuttings this morning at the Forest Park Station in the City of St. Louis. This station was part of the original 1993 alignment but it was completely rebuilt to serve as a transfer station where the line now splits off to the airport vs. Shrewsbury.

I managed to stay ahead of the train and make it to a number of station openings: Forsyth, Brentwood and Shrewsbury. Below are videos taken at these openings. Interviews with a number of officials look and sound great but unfortunately they are not sync’d with each other (I can’t complain as YouTube is free). Many thanks to Pete at ArchCafe for giving me guidance on converting the clips from the camera format to Apple’s Quicktime Format (mp4) so the sound is sync’d.

You can also look at my photos from the opening on Flickr.

As you will learn in the videos this corridor has been held for more than a decade, awaiting this use. Also, the ribbon cutting was not done by a big pair of scissors but at each station they had ribbon that broke away as the train pulled in.



Arriving at Forsyth Station in University City

This is the big circular hole in the ground and yes, this is University City — barely! A local band was playing before and after the train arrived, keeping the crowd entertained. A number of vendors set up on the sidewalk just outside the station. One managed to block the artsy bike rack.


… Continue Reading

 

Update on Recall Efforts in the City of St. Louis

With all the election stuff of late it has been easy to ignore the various recalls that are going on in the City of St. Louis, a lot of angry voters out there displeased with their aldermen. The issue is not political infighting but development practices.

Freeman Bosley Sr., 3rd Ward:

Via Antonio French on PubDef: The recall is on hold pending an August 21, 2006 court hearing. It seems the recallers are challenging the legal authority of the Board of Elections to allow the subject of the recall, in this case Freeman Bosley Sr., to obtain affidavits from people to have their names removed from the recall petition. If the judge rules in their favor they will have sufficient numbers to place the recall on the ballot. This could be huge with widespread implications for other recalls.

Bosley has been a destructive element in his ward, choosing to unnecessarily raze many buildings and ruin street patterns. New construction has been decidedly suburban in character. Frankly he just seems too out of touch with what a city should be. He seems hell bent on destroying everything that makes the ward interesting, all in the name of progress. He has had his 17 years in the spotlight, time for some fresh urban-minded thinking.

Joseph Roddy, 17th Ward:

Roddy, who’s father was alderman for many years, inherited this ward. While Roddy can brag about the millions (billions?) of dollars of investment within the ward what he cannot do is argue that it has bettered the ward from an urban & livability perspective. BJC parking garages are costly but do not improve the area.

It looks like recallroddy.com was registered in May 2006 but no active website exists.

Jennifer Florida, 15th Ward:

Back in 2001 I really liked Florida, she was very involved in saving the South Side National Bank and she wasn’t about to let politics and ‘development as usual’ allow the building to be razed for a Walgreen’s. I was very impressed and worked to help get her elected. Today I feel betrayed. Did I misjudge her or did she change? Perhaps some of both.

In talking to several of those with the Florida recall effort it sounds like they are all re-energized following the elections on Tuesdays. Volunteers worked the polls in the 15th Ward to collect signatures. Many voters were eager to sign the petition although others were not so willing with her standing nearby. With more elections in November, March and April it looks like the volunteers are determined to stick with the recall as long as it takes. When the new McDonald’s begins to rise on Grand and we see the shuttered old McDonald’s this might attract some new interest. When she tries to push through the senior housing with little public input on the site plan, land use, and such the voters may finally get fed up.

Despite what the political machine may be saying, I am not “behind” these recalls. Do I support the recall of Florida, Roddy and Bosley? Oh yeah! But I am not orchestrating these efforts. I know many of the people running the recall against Florida and have offered them my opinion on things when asked. I am hosting recallflorida.com on server space that I have but I am not creating or posting any content — that is entirely up to those doing the recall. To those working to recall Bosley and Roddy I will make the same offer to you — free blog & email hosting.

I’m also willing to talk to potential candidates for aldermen in the city’s even numbered wards, the 14 seats that are up for re-election in March 2007. This doesn’t mean I will support just anyone challenging an incumbent. On a personal level I like a number of the current aldermen but I question the urban understanding of all of them. Who knows, I might actually support an incumbent or two. I will offer an “in-kind contribution” of web & email hosting to those I chose to support. Democracy is best served when we have more than a single choice of candidates.

– Steve

 

Commentary on Maryland Plaza in West End Word

maryland plaza - 45.jpgThe new issue of the West End Word is available and it includes a commentary on Maryland Plaza by yours truly. Here is the opening paragraph:

Maryland Plaza, the continuation of Maryland Avenue between Euclid and Kingshighway, probably ranks as the most controversial street in all of St. Louis. Not even the costly and lengthy transformation of Washington Avenue a few years ago can compare. Maryland Plaza has a good 35 years worth of controversy.

Pick up a copy this week or read it online. What do you think of Maryland Plaza? Add your comments below and/or send an email to the West End Word editor.

For more images see my gallery of 40+ photos on Flickr.

– Steve

 

Preservation Board to Review Proposed Changes to Forest Park’s Government Hill

The St. Louis Preservation Board reviewed a radical proposal at their June 2006 meeting (see post). The board at the time deferred any recommendation to Forest Park Forever and instead asked them to reconsider the concept. And it worked.

Last week I heard about a special meeting of the Preservation Board being called to consider the revisions. On Saturday morning I ran into Board Chair Timothy Mulligan at Soulard Market and he wanted to make sure the public was aware of the meeting.

The prior concept can be seen in the June 2006 report and the latest design can be seen here.

It is hard to make out the new design from the images in the PDF agenda but the description from the staff is helpful. One key part is making the area ADA compliant without regrading the entire hillside:

The revised design incorporates accessibility features in a manner that blends these features into overall design of the space rather than designing the space around the accessibility features. The accessibility features are now made a part of the landscaping and have gentle slopes that do not require ramp treatment—an accessible route with a slope of less than 5% will be integrated into the design of the rooms. The accessible paths will not be visible from Government Drive because the revised plan no longer involves extensively regrading the hill.

The meeting starts at 4:30pm this afternoon at 1015 Washington, 12th floor.

– Steve

 

Sign the Wall to Let the City & BJC Know We Want to Keep Forest Park Intact

It looks like many groups are organizing in opposition to the city’s deal to lease part of Forest Park to BJC, allowing for construction above ground. One group is planning a demonstration each weekend:

PRESS RELEASE

‘The Signing Wall’ will be here every week-end for people to come and sign, until a final decision is made by the Protectors of Forest Park and the Mayor, Darlene Green and Jim Shrewsbury.

We hope the number of participants will grow, as more people gather, who are opposed to any loss of Forest Park. We hope you will come and sign ‘The Wall’.

Across from Barnes Hospital, above the underground garage. 3:00pm til 6:00pm

The silent protest; with yard signs, letters to the Editor, blog comments, websites and news articles by the media have done a great job exposing the proposal..

It is time to be seen and heard.

Vocal demonstration at 5:00pm

‘The Wall’ is a gathering place to conjoin resources and energy. To unite enmasse, on common ground.

There will be a vocal demonstration at 5:00pm; all are invited to join in.

We hope, publicity will be the key the opposition needs, to trash this proposal and agree, collectively,

Forest Park will be Forever, Always.

Never an amputation.

Sincerely,

The Neighbors of BJC

Indeed it is Mayor Slay, Comptroller Darlene Green and Board President Jim Shrewsbury that will make the final decision. To date both Green and Shrewsbury have been vocal in their questioning the deal while not outright rejecting the concept. If you haven’t told each of them yet how you feel, now is the time to act. Below are links to their email forms as well as their office phone numbers.

Mayor Slay, (314) 622-3201
Comptroller Darlene Green, (314) 622-4389
President Jim Shrewsbury, (314) 622-3287

It wouldn’t hurt to contact the folks over at Forest Park Forever to let them know you want to keep the park intact as well.

Another group out there is the Citizens to Protect Forest Park. You’ve probably seen their green & white yard signs saying in bold letters, “Our park is NOT for sale.” Their website is protectforestpark.org. Another website on the topic is CWE Greenspace.

We do have an issue with how to fund the on-going maintenance of Forest Park. The last thing we want to do is have gone through 10+ years of work and planning and millions of dollars just to see it deteriorate in the same amount of time. The solution is not a secret deal to lease well-used park land for construction, at least not until alternatives have been publicly discussed and ruled out. Leasing this land to BJC should be a last resort measure, not a first step.

– Steve

 

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