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Kiener Plaza Helped by Gateway Greening

September 10, 2011 Downtown, Featured, Parks 6 Comments
ABOVE: Big bold plantings at Kiener Plaza look great

The other day I strolled through Kiener Plaza and I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful plantings.

ABOVE: One of many planted containers

Gateway Greening really provides a great service to the city, the parks department could never do such plantings.

– Steve Patterson


May 1, 2012 Will Mark the 30th Anniversary of Richard Serra’s ‘Twain’

September 9, 2011 Downtown, Featured, Parks 47 Comments
ABOVE: People checking out Richard Serra's "Twain" in April 2010

Richard Serra’s controversial metal sculpture “Twain” was installed on March 15-17, 1982 and dedicated on Saturday May 1, 1982.

According to a August 25, 1985 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, by the late George McCue, “the formal name arrived late; at the 1982 dedication it was simply “Quadrilateral.”” I know many of you don’t like Twain, see Readers split on Richard Serra’s “Twain” from April 2010.

The following is what I’d like to see accomplished by the 30th anniversary of “Twain’s” dedication:

1) Extend the wide “hallway” that runs next to Market St in Citygarden. Narrow 10th & 11th streets where the hallway crosses both as was done at 9th.

ABOVE: The Gateway Mall master plan calls for this "hallway" to run from Broadway to 20th

2) Replace the narrow broken sidewalks on the other three sides of the block with new wider sidewalks.

ABOVE: broken sidewalks detract from the block containing Twain

3) Place landscaping grids around the sculpture so grass can grow without having foot traffic create holes that get muddy and collect water.

ABOVE: water collects at the east point of the sculpture
Not much else is needed in my view.  The “hallway” needs to be completed regardless of what happens with the rest of the block.
 – Steve Patterson

Focusing on Lucas Park…Again (Updated)

September 6, 2011 Downtown, Featured, Parks 38 Comments

Three years ago this month, a group of 10 downtown residents began efforts to clean up and  activate Lucas Park. The intent was not to run out the homeless, but to give the park the love it hadn’t received so the non-homeless would also feel welcomed in the public park.

ABOVE: Clogged drains led to the accumulation of mud, September 2008
ABOVE: After removing the mud and unclogging the drain, September 2008

The park lacked basic maintenance but loft dwellers and numerous homeless individuals worked together on several days that Fall to clean up the park. Many residents wanted a place where they could let their dogs run off-leash. The former playground of the Children’s Center was used for a while but it had serious shortcomings. After a design charrette in November 2008 it was clear to me a few others wanted to filter all communications in the group. My last involvement was in March 2009.

ABOVE: Aerial view of Lucas Park. Original playground/dog run on right with new dog run at the top
ABOVE: I was welcomed at the opening of the new dog park on April 3, 2010

Other than attend the opening of the dog park I’ve stayed away and not been involved, letting others do their thing.

ABOVE: New benches were added, the old USSR must have had a sale

In December 2010 the Missouri Secretary of State’s office dissolved the non-profit Lucas Park Beautification Project for not filing an annual report. The board and the city were unaware of this until I inquired recently.  Really? I’ve come to the conclusion this group is much like a high school clique, a small social group unwelcoming to others. The website, downtownstl10.org, hasn’t been updated since mid-2009. I was told applications could be picked up in person at Washington Ave Post, so I asked for one on my last visit and scanned it (view). By way of contrast, the Frenchtown Dog Park has the logical URL of FrenchtownDogPark.com where the application and dues can be completed online. The Shaw Dog Park is part of the Shaw neighborhood and can be found at www.shawstlouis.org/dogpark/ – rules and applications are also online. The SW City Dog Park in Wilmore Park is located at www.swcitydogpark.org. The Central West End dog park is at www.cwedogparks.com and like all the others the rules and applications are online. A new resident searching online for dog parks might not locate downtown because they wouldn’t find the one in Lucas Park. I knew I had to get back involved, I just couldn’t allow this small group to be the only downtown residents involved in the park that is just 2 blocks from my loft. It’s a public park, they hold no monopoly on it. Lucas Park, like me, is now part of the 5th ward rather than the 6th ward. Alderwomen April Ford Griffin (D-5) says she welcomes “input from all the residents.”  Good. I believe efforts must be on the ground and in the cloud. For the latter I set up the following to help with communications:

I don’t know at this point where this will go. I do know open communications on issues is a must. – Steve Patterson

Update Wednesday September 14, 2011 @ noon: Turns out there is a website for the dog park — lucasparkdogpark.com. Rules posted? Nope. Membership cost? No. Application form? Negative.  The only thing you can do is submit your email address so someone can contract you.  Oh yeah, the non-profit is still dissolved by the Secretary of State (view).


Speed Bump Bill Hits a Bump in the Political Road

ABOVE: Speed bump in Tower Grove Park

Recently the humble speed bump was elevated to a political issue, from MayorSlay.com:

“Today, I vetoed an odd little bill that would have paid for the installation of speed bumps in one of the city’s 105 parks. The bill’s sponsor ignored the testimony of the Streets Department that there were better and more effective ways to slow traffic and the opinion of the city counselor that such constructions are legally questionable under state and Federal law.

At my direction, the city’s operations director will work with the directors of the Parks and Streets Departments, the city’s chief engineer, the park’s users, and the bill’s sponsor to find appropriate, effective, and legal measures to calm traffic along that stretch of park road. If the issue is safety, not aldermanic courtesy, that will solve the problem.”

The sponsor was 21st ward alderman, Antonio French, a personal friend of many years. The bill was BB43.

ABOVE: Jogging trail crosses road at the widest point from green barrel to barrel.

I visited O’Fallon Park to check out the places where French wanted speed bumps, namely two points where the newish jogging trail crossing the main internal road in the park. I can certainly see why he wanted something to slow traffic, neither crossing point is marked other than two faint crosswalk lines.

The phrase “speed bump” doesn’t really apply in the case of O’Fallon Park, speed hump is better:

Speed humps are rounded raised areas placed across the roadway. They are generally 10 to 14 feet long (in the direction of travel), making them distinct from the shorter “speed bumps” found in many parking lots, and are 3 to 4 inches high. The profile of a speed hump can be circular, parabolic, or sinusoidal. They are often tapered as they reach the curb on each end to allow unimpeded drainage.

They are both inexpensive and effective.  But the mayor questioned the legality in his blog post on the veto:

The mayor is referring to the recommendation he received from the city counselor’s office, which told him in a statement, “since speed bumps are not explicitly permitted in [Missouri Statutes section] 304.120, they logically fall under the category of prohibited obstructions in [section] 229.030.” The counselor’s office goes on to state that the speed bumps would create additional legal liability for the City. (RFT)

Not so fast though:

At the request of the Post-Dispatch, the local [MoDOT] office researched state law on the issue, and found no reference whatsoever to speed “bumps,” which are in parking lots, or “humps,” which are in streets, said Traffic Operations Engineer Brian Umfleet.

And the law, Umfleet said today, typically spells out what is illegal. Roundabouts, for instance, aren’t in state law either. Nor are some of the newer, fancier traffic-control methods, such as the “Diverging Diamond,” at Dorsett Road and Interstate 270 – yet MoDOT builds those, too. (STLtoday.com)

ABOVE: Skid marks where someone did donuts at one point where the jogging path crosses the road
ABOVE: The 2nd point the jogging path crosses road is diagonally from the sign on the left to in front of the dark SUV on the right.

How could these crossings have only two narrow crosswalk lines and no signs at all? I wondered if this was the norm so at first I visited O’Fallon’s south side counterpart, Carondelet Park.

ABOVE: Continental-style crosswalk in carondelet park

The crosswalks in Carondelet Park are significantly more visible than the standard crosswalk markings in O’Fallon Park.

ABOVE: Crosswalk pavement marking variants per the U.S. FHWA. (Click to view Wikipedia article)

I personally prefer the Zebra or Ladder styles of crosswalk markings.

ABOVE: Another point where the jogging path crosses the road in Carondelet Park. The "continental" crosswalk markings become visible a bit closer and the sign is visible from a great distance.

It would appear the city skimped on pedestrian safety when the jogging path was completed in O’Fallon Park, relative to Carondelet Park at least.  Forest Park uses textured pavement near such crossings to slow traffic, in addition to warning signs. It amazes me French had to introduce a bill and have the mayor veto the bill over something that should have been included with the original installation of the jogging path.

– Steve Patterson



Two Great Years of Citygarden

ABOVE: Citygarden at night

It was two years ago today that Citygarden opened in downtown St. Louis. The two-block sculpture garden leaves a positive impression on all who visit.

ABOVE: Citygarden made the cover of Landscape Architecture in April 2010

The space has won numerous awards and graced the pages of many publications.  The critics all seem to love Citygarden!

ABOVE: A friend's grandsons love ringing the bells at Citygarden

And the critics that really matter, the kids, love the space just like us adults do.

ABOVE: Flowers, such as these Siberian Iris, feel right at home among sculptures from renowned artists.

I love Citygarden, but it’s not perfect.  Yesterday I filed an ADA grievance with the city’s Office on the Disabled against the City of St. Louis for accepting the curb ramp at 10th & Chestnut.  It doesn’t even come close to meeting ADA design guidelines — it should have been replaced by the general contractor by now.  I also don’t like 9th Street being closed to vehicles but that will take more work to convince the powers that be that we can’t keep effing with our street grid.

– Steve Patterson