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The Two Dog Runs Within Lucas Park

August 23, 2010 Downtown, Parks 24 Comments

In 2008 the Downtown Children’s Center moved to a new location, leaving behind their fenced/gated playground area within Lucas Park.  Later that year downtown residents began to clean up the fenced space to use it as a place to let their dogs run off-leash.

ABOVE: Former playground used as a dog run
ABOVE: Former playground used as a dog run

The problem was the playground didn’t meet the city’s standards for a dog run — the fence was too short, there was no double gate entry and no access to water. The dog run would need to be rebuilt.  When Lucas Park was designed it was symmetrical in both directions. With the east end fenced it was no longer symmetrical on the main library across Locust to the south. That, and the fact residents would be without any dog run during reconstruction, let me to suggest at a charrette in November 2008 that a new dog run be built in a different location, removing the old fencing once the new run was open.

ABOVE: Recently finished dog run
ABOVE: Recently finished dog run

In April of this year the new dog run opened.  Nearly six months later, the old playground improvised as a temporary dog run is still in use.  City officials said they had no plans to remove the old fencing.

ABOVE: Aerial view of Lucas Park.  Original playground/dog run on right with new dog run at the top
ABOVE: Aerial view of Lucas Park. Original playground/dog run on right with new dog run at the top

Viewing the park as four areas around a fifth center section there is even less open park space than before!  The old playground fencing needs to be removed with the east section of the park.  This would, unfortunately, force residents to pay the fees to use the new dog run.

– Steve Patterson


Team Presentations To The Jury & Viewing Designs

ABOVE: Public views boards from five competition finalists
ABOVE: Public views boards from five competition finalists in space under the Arch

Yesterday I posted my initial thoughts on the Arch Design Competition.Today I want to go over some of the upcoming dates & places you need to know about.

  • Monday August 23rd: The last day the National Park Service will accept public comment, you can do so here.
  • Thursday August 26th: Each of the five teams will present their concept to the jury, 8am-6:30pm.  Note the location has changed — it is now the Ferrara Theater inside America’s Center.  View the schedule for the day.  Transit access via the Convention Center MetroLink stop or the #99 MetroBus.
  • Friday September 24th: Winning team to be announced.  Time & location not yet known.

Two identical sets of boards exist.  One will remain under the arch through September 26th. The other will travel to venues on both sides of the river through September 26th. For the details click here.

– Steve Patterson


First Reaction To The Five Finalists In The St. Louis Arch International Design Competition

August 19, 2010 Downtown, Parks, Planning & Design, Transportation Comments Off on First Reaction To The Five Finalists In The St. Louis Arch International Design Competition

I spent Tuesday morning at the Arch for the 9am press conference and then to review the boards of the five finalists in the St. Louis Arch International Design Competition.  I immediately could see the competition produced so many great ideas — a far better than what we saw a few years ago from the Danforth Foundation (Prior post: We Can All Agree, St. Louis’ Riverfront Needs Help from 10/19/2007).  The design competition is already a huge success before the winner is selected.  The ultimate winner is all of us, including future generations.

ABOVE: A woman leaving the Arch grounds faces the elevated highway lanes
ABOVE: A woman leaving the Arch grounds faces the elevated highway lanes

For over five years I’ve been writing about highway removal, starting on July 1, 2005:

For me the biggest priority is not to make some pretty pattern on the ground as seen from the Arch. The best thing we can do is reconnect our downtown with the river. We have two major obstacles keeping the city and river apart. One is the Arch and grounds itself. The other is highway I-70. There has been some talk of a “lid” to better cover the “depressed” section between the Arch and Old Courthouse. I agree, let’s cover that puppy.

But perhaps more important than a lid over the highway in front of the Arch is to deal with the highway as it goes overhead from Washington Avenue North to just past Biddle. Here it would be highly challenging to bury the highway because the MetroLink line runs under Washington Avenue. Either the highway or the light rail would have to go deep. This is certainly much easier than Boston’s Big Dig project. I’d actually like to see us remove the interstate at this point and do a boulevard like San Francisco’s Embarcadero that was created after a raised highway collapsed in the 1989 earthquake.

And a month later, on August 2, 2005, I wrote:

I want to remove the existing I-70 between the current Poplar Street Bridge and the new bridge.

You read correct, I want to remove the existing highway between the bridges. This will collectively solve a number of issues.

St. Louis will not have any such natural disaster to convince us to remove the highway dividing us from our river. While this seems radical at first, it is logical if you think about it. I-64 traffic will continue to use the PSB. I-70 traffic can use the new bridge. Do we really need to connect the two together downtown?

So imagine the existing I-70 removed from the PSB to the new bridge (North of Laclede’s Landing & the proposed Bottle District). In its place a wide and grand boulevard lined with trees and shops. The adjacent street grid is reconnected at every block. Pedestrians can easily cross the boulevard not only at the Arch but anywhere along the distance between the bridges. Eads Bridge and the King Bridge both land cars onto the boulevard and into then dispersed into the street grid. The money it would take to cover I-70 for 3 blocks in front of the Arch can go much further not trying to cover an interstate highway. Joining the riverfront and Laclede’s Landing to the rest of downtown will naturally draw people down Washington Avenue to the riverfront.

In one bold decision we can take back our connection to the river that shaped our city. The decision must be made now. The interchange for the new bridge is being designed now – we’ve only got one chance to get it right. Similarly, the lid project in front of the Arch could shift to a removed I-70 and connecting boulevard design before we are too far along the current path.

Rather than spend hundreds of millions on rebuilding highway 40 (I-64 to the rest of the map reading world) we should just tear it out completely. Don’t look so confused, I’m totally serious. This is not a belated April fools joke.

Our highways in the middle of urban areas are relics to the cheap gas economy that is quickly coming to an end. In addition to removing highway 40, we should remove all the highways within our I-270/I-255 Loop: I-55, I-70, I-44, and I-170 # With I-70 gone from the river to past the airport a “lid” is no longer necessary to connect the Arch with the rest of the city.

  • Washington Avenue flows easily into the Eads bridge.
  • Old North St. Louis & Hyde Park are connected with the warehouses and river just to the east.
  • Northside neighborhoods are able to reconnect around a new street where the highway used to exist. Transit along the route makes these neighborhoods more desirable.
  • The airport limits development around I-70 & I-170 but this is a good place for some industrial uses. As airplane fuel is costly fewer people fly. Overnight shipping becomes unaffordable for most packages so less area is needed around the airport for these services. Transit brings those to the airport that are working & flying so less space is devoted to parking.

We are at a crossroads at this point with three major projects involving billions of dollars and affecting St. Louis for at least the next half century. Removing I-70 would, in twenty years, be seen as a pivotal decision. Will our government leaders have the courage to make such a decision?

I revisited the issue three years later on July 8, 2008:

The NPS is incorrectly focusing all their attention on connecting to downtown at one single point – in the center aligned with the Old Courthouse. A better connection to the Arch grounds and down to the river is more than a single bridge or even a 3-block “lid” can address.

The solution?

  • I-70 needs to be removed from the equation (more on that further down).
  • Memorial Drive needs to be reconstructed as a grand boulevard and renamed 3rd Street.
  • Buildings fronting the existing Memorial need entrances facing the Arch.

The new Mississippi river bridge, when built, will become I-70. While some traffic uses this portion of I-70 as a pass through between North & South they can use my proposed 3rd Street Boulevard or other North-South streets on our street grid. I’d remove I-70 from the new bridge on the North all the way to I-44/I-55 on the South. This would permit a larger portion of the downtown and near downtown to begin to heal from the damage caused by the highway cutting off streets.

A little bridge or a lid over the highway just isn’t enough. Earlier generations dreamed big and it’s time we did too if we plan to fix their mistakes.

So I was thrilled when four of the five competition finalists affirmed the highway removal concept I’d been writing about and City to River has been tirelessly championing.  For example:

From the MVVA team:

The Interstate 70 trench is now the most striking barrier between the Memorial and the city….We have proposed a one-block overpass, rather than an at-grade boulevard, because it is less expensive, easier to achieve by 2015, and would require fewer jurisdictional and regulatory negotiations. But the benefits of removing the highway altogether are clear, and we have purposely created a proposal that is compatible with either solution. [emphasis added]

ABOVE: View of St. Louis driving in on the Eads Bridge
ABOVE: View of St. Louis driving in via the Eads Bridge

The National Park Service will accept public comments for only a few more days, through Monday August 23, 2010. Everyone reading this post needs to submit a comment. My thoughts are:

  • The removal of I-70 must be planned now, even though a boulevard cannot be complete by October 28, 2015.  The new interchange at I-70 and the new bridge should be designed and built for a future boulevard.  Connections to & from Broadway & 4th  Streets can be completed prior to the 2015 deadline.
  • The corner of the Arch grounds at Washington Ave is just as important a connection point as Market Street.
  • The pedestrian connection between the east bank MetroLink station and the Malcolm Martin Park is a priority connection.
  • Closing off the levee to traffic will create a dead space like so many pedestrian malls.  Allow traffic but pedestrians must have priority. Surfaces must allow access for the disabled.
  • Removal of the Arch parking garage on the north and the maintenance building on the south will remove barriers in those directions.

I have to figure out how to put the above into the following format:

Topic Questions Instructions: Please number your responses to match the corresponding question below.

Topic Questions:

1. What do you value about the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial?

2. How do each of these designs respect what you value about the Memorial?

3. What concerns do you have about the future of the Memorial?

4. How do each of these designs address or alleviate your concerns?

5. Are there any other comments you would like to share with the National Park Service or the designers?

I’ll work on that this weekend. You, the reader, need to review the entries from the Behnisch team, MVVA team, PWP team, SOM team, and the Weiss team and submit a comment.  To have only a week to review and comment is frustrating but I’ll deal with it.

Watch my videos of the press conference; welcome from Park Superintendent Tom Bradley, Mayor Francis Slay, Lynn McClure of the independent National Parks Conservation, and competition director Donald Stastny.

– Steve Patterson


Remembering the fallen of past wars

July 5, 2010 Downtown, Parks 10 Comments
St. Louis Soldiers Memorial
ABOVE: St. Louis Soldiers Memorial

It took war to gain our independence as a country.  Since 1776 we have been in many wars and had many casualties. In the early 20th century grand civic spaces became fashionable in cities.  Engineer Harland Bartholomew headed up St. Louis’ planning efforts from 1916-1950.

His name is on the cornerstone of Soldiers Memorial Military Museum, which was laid on November 11, 1936. The memorial was built to remember those who gave their lives during World War I (1914-1919).  From the Soldiers’ Memorial website:

Under the leadership of Mayor Bernard F. Dickmann, and with some funds coming from the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (Project No. 5098), the construction of the building, development of the memorial plaza, and improvements to the parks began on October 21, 1935 and the memorial and museum officially opened on Memorial Day, May 30, 1938.

So many years after the fact.

ABOVE: View to south, across Chestnut St
ABOVE: View to south, across Chestnut St

To the south is the memorial for those who died in WWII.

The Court of Honors was dedicated in 1948 — not long after the end of the war.  This new memorial was a sunken open garden rather than a formal & elevated building.  I find it fascinating that in a dozen years the idea of a memorial changed so much.  Or perhaps many still remembered the construction of the building across the street and they viewed the new garden as a compliment.

Later additions were made in the center to honor those from the Korean (1950-1953) and Vietnam (1955-1975) wars.  Of course our involvement in wars didn’t end in 1975. Have we continued wars but not memorials? What about Desert Storm (8/1990 – 2/1991 ), Enduring Freedom (2001-2002) and the Iraq War (2003-present)?  Who knows, perhaps something has been added to this area regarding Desert Storm?

It just feels like, as a society, we’ve become so detached from war and the resulting deaths.  Last week marked 17 years since my oldest brother’s retirement from the U.S. Navy after serving 24 years.  Yes, I was only two when he enlisted. On Independence Day four years ago I ran a commentary from my brother, here is an excerpt:

We often take our freedoms for granted. The overused expression “Freedom is not free,” is certainly applicable today. Neither of my daughters, neither of my brothers and only one of my sons-in-law ever served in the military and I believe that they missed out on some priceless life lessons. While it is held that people who do not vote do not have credibility to criticize our politicians, I believe that serving in the military or some type of public service is another fundamental role of being an American. We all seem to enjoy our freedoms and demand that our worldwide interests be protected. The difficulty arises when we relegate these tasks to those who most Americans, especially the privileged, view as incapable of doing anything else with their lives.

As an openly gay man I wouldn’t have had the same experience as my straight brother. Because I did not serve I do feel indebted to him and all the other who have served or are serving currently. While I’m not a fan of war, I do favor remembering those who come back — both alive and dead.  I hope that as this area of the Gateway Mall evolves we can make it more than just a big place for festivals.

– Steve Patterson


Citygarden opened one year ago today

June 30, 2010 Downtown, Parks 10 Comments

The mature trees make it feel like Citygarden has been around for many years, but it was just one year ago today that the two-block sculpture garden opened.

ABOVE: Mayor Slay at opening of Citygarden on 6/30/2009
ABOVE: Mayor Slay at opening of Citygarden on 6/30/2009

The park has been an unquestionable hit with locals, as well as people from outside our region.

Lighting at Citygarden is outstanding.

ABOVE: The Fire and Ice Cream Truck is a popular place to buy water and locally produced food & drink
ABOVE: The Fire and Ice Cream Truck is a popular place to buy water and locally produced food & drink

I love Citygarden and I’ve probably visited at least once per week during the last year.

Still, I’m frustrated by a number of things:

  • 9th Street is blocked to vehicles between the hours of 10am and 10pm.  9th was designed to narrow the road and slow the little bit of traffic it would get.
  • The curb ramp at 10th & Chestnut was poorly executed so that I have to approach just right to get onto the sidewalk.  Plus it holds water.
  • Work was not done on 8th & 10th to make extending the “hallway”  to the blocks to the east and west a simpler matter.  Once again we will have to redo that which has just been done.

I’ll be there at noon today for a TweetUp (Twitter meet-up).

– Steve Patterson