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Readers: City & County Should Reconcile

September 18, 2013 Politics/Policy, STL Region 99 Comments

More than ninety percent of readers that voted in the poll last week favor some form of reconciliation between the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.  Voting was nearly double the usual.

Q: Should St. Louis City & St. Louis County Reconcile? If So, How?

  1. St. Louis City should rejoin St. Louis County as the 91st municipally 65 [36.31%]
  2. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities, schools districts, fire districts, etc) should become one government body 52 [29.05%]
  3. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities) should become one government body 45 [25.14%]
  4. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain separate, but partner more 12 [6.7%]
  5. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain completely separate (no change) 5 [2.79%]
  6. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

More than 54% favor some form of consolidated government, not just becoming the 91st municipality. If St. Louis became the 91st municipality it would be the largest in terms of population and 2nd largest in land area, Wildwood is slightly larger in area.

For years I’ve favored a super consolidation  — all municipalities, school districts, fire districts, etc being made into one. But I recognize this wouldn’t be a magic bullet to solve issues of poverty, unemployment, stagnant/declining population, in the city & county. Some regional problems would be solved, but others would be created in the process — unintended consequences tend to pop up.

What needs to take place isn’t a discussion of solutions, but a discussion of problems facing the region. From there we can work toward a collective solution(s). Our history has been a group or individual has pushed a change in governance out of selfish interests. There’s been some mild effort to give the appearance of a grassroots movement rather than what it is.

I want change, I think the region needs change.  But we must learn from the consequences of other city-county consolidations.We shouldn’t do this so one person can get his wish to end income taxes and fund government largely through sales taxes. As a low-income person I know the burden sales taxes place on the poor. I’m not willing to suffer so millionaires can reduce their obligation to society.

Here are some groups currently working on consolidation/merger:

Right now I’m still research each to see if they’re legit, or just a front. Part of that includes reading from a variety of sources, for example:

If the city’s current system of having “county” offices that operate independently of the city is an absurd waste of resources and duplication of services, then what is to be said of a county that has 43 fire districts and more than 60 police departments? Compared outright to St. Louis County, St. Louis city is a model of economy and streamlined public services. It may be ridiculous that the city has a comptroller, treasurer, collector of revenue and license collector, but for many of its square miles the county is nothing – governmentally speaking – more than a speed trap that feeds money into one strip mall city hall or another. (St. Louis American)

I believe we can have a better government structure that makes us competitive with other regions, bettering the lives of everyone, not just a few.  It’ll take open dialog to get there.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Which two of the four Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes would you like to see planners seek federal funding

Last week regional transportation planners presented four Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) being considered. Soon two will be picked to submit for federal funding.

Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version
Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version

I attended the presentation at City Hall and participated in the audience voting using hand held devices. They asked a couple of questions to help them in their decision. To keep things simple I’m just asking which two of the four BRT routes should move forward with a request for federal funding.

From MovingTransitForward.org:

These four potential BRT routes are options for improving transit connections between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. One of the study’s main goals is to address the need for quick, direct travel from neighborhoods north and south of Downtown St. Louis to employers located in north and west St. Louis County. The “Central Corridor” stretching from Downtown St. Louis to the Central West End and Clayton still holds the region’s largest concentration of jobs, but the largest job growth is occurring in places like Chesterfield, Earth City, and St. Charles – areas easily accessible by highway, but currently not by public transit. The type of BRT service currently being studied is intended to expand access and improve travel time to those job opportunities – of particular importance to reverse commuters traveling to major job centers in suburban areas – while also providing a premium transit alternative for car commuters. The Rapid Transit Connector Study will identify candidates for Metro’s first two BRT routes; Metro will continue to work with the region to identify future BRT routes. Other transit options identified in Moving Transit Forward, such as expansions of the MetroLink System, are intended to meet other long-term goals such as strengthening neighborhoods and encouraging transit-oriented development.
Alternatives analysis involves evaluating the performance of each alternative along parameters including ridership, expanded access to key destinations, travel time savings, and land use benefits. These technical outcomes will be combined with public input to identify the two potential projects most likely to meet project goals, benefit the region, and successfully compete for federal funding.

One final meeting will be held this Tuesday:

September 17, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Chesterfield City Hall, Council Chambers
690 Chesterfield Pkwy W.
Chesterfield, MO 63017

The downtown inset can be viewed here.

You may not like any of the four, however, I’ve not allowed any custom answers so you can’t suggest any other routes. These four need to be narrowed to two. I did provide “none” as an option as well as “unsure/no answer.” The poll is in the right sidebar (desktop layout).

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Want MetroLink in St. Louis County, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Presentations This Week

In the poll last week readers made it clear they want to see St. Louis County use Prop A funds to expand MetroLink. I’ll show the results later in this post but I want to share information on BRT informational meetings this week, starting today:

The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.
The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.

Public meetings will be held in September 2013 to gather public input on two final, recommended projects to be advanced into competition for Federal funding. The same meeting will be repeated at three locations along the proposed routes.

September 10, 2013
11a-1pm, open house with presentation at noon
City of St. Louis City Hall, 2nd floor
1200 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103

September 11, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
The Heights (City of Richmond Heights Community Center)
8001 Dale Avenue, Richmond Heights, MO 63117

September 12, 2013
5:30-7:30 p.m., open house with presentation at 6:30 p.m.
St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley Campus, Student Services Center, Multipurpose Room
3400 Pershall Road, Ferguson, MO 63135

Here’s a summary:

The study is now in the alternatives analysis phase. Four alternatives have been identified:

  • Halls-Ferry Riverview BRT
  • West Florissant-Natural Bridge BRT
  • Page Avenue BRT
  • I-64 Highway BRT

These four potential BRT routes are options for improving transit connections between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. One of the study’s main goals is to address the need for quick, direct travel from neighborhoods north and south of Downtown St. Louis to employers located in north and west St. Louis County. The “Central Corridor” stretching from Downtown St. Louis to the Central West End and Clayton still holds the region’s largest concentration of jobs, but the largest job growth is occurring in places like Chesterfield, Earth City, and St. Charles – areas easily accessible by highway, but currently not by public transit. The type of BRT service currently being studied is intended to expand access and improve travel time to those job opportunities – of particular importance to reverse commuters traveling to major job centers in suburban areas – while also providing a premium transit alternative for car commuters. The Rapid Transit Connector Study will identify candidates for Metro’s first two BRT routes; Metro will continue to work with the region to identify future BRT routes. Other transit options identified in Moving Transit Forward, such as expansions of the MetroLink System, are intended to meet other long-term goals such as strengthening neighborhoods and encouraging transit-oriented development.

More information on the four routes at MovingTransitForward.org.

Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version
Four alternative BRT routes, click image to view larger version

The top three answers in the poll were for more light rail (MetroLink), not Bus Rapid Transit:

Q: How should St. Louis County invest Prop A funds to expand public transit? (Pick 3)

  1. MetroLink (light rail) extension into South County from Shrewsbury station 41 [21.93%]
  2. MetroLink (light rail) extension from Clayton to Westport Plaza 37 [19.79%]
  3. MetroLink (light rail) extension into North County from North Hanley or airport 33 [17.65%]
  4. Apply to operations to increase frequency of current routes 24 [12.83%]
  5. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to West County 13 [6.95%]
  6. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to South County 11 [5.88%]
  7. Other: 11 [5.88%]
  8. Add new regular bus routes 10 [5.35%]
  9. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to North County 6 [3.21%]
  10. Unsure/No Answer 1 [0.53%]

I was delighted to see more funding to operations place 4th, rather than lower. Here are the 11 other answers:

  1. Better accomodation for cyclists
  2. MetroLink South City
  3. Expand metrolink into South city. Add double-buses on busiest lines.
  4. BRT to North and South City
  5. focus on service, not equpt – demand-responsive service & grid route structure
  6. North South Metrolink Roue
  7. Metrolink expansion to Chesterfield
  8. metrolink from shrews to webster and kirkwood
  9. Both North and South County Extensions
  10. How is north/south Mettolink not an option. This poll is meaningless.
  11. LRt to N County and S County through downtown.

For some reason 7 of these think County voters will let their tax money be spent within the city limits of St. Louis. The north & south light rail planning that took place a number of years ago had the extensions ending in park & ride lots on Goodfellow & Broadway, respectively. They’d never cross out of the city limits. Like Shrewsbury, they’d be built to expand further in the future.

Shrewsbury has been open for 7 years and it doesn’t look like we’ll be expanding south from there anytime soon. Just as well, where would it go?

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Should St. Louis City & St. Louis County Reconcile? If So, How?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

For decades now there have been efforts to nullify the “Great Divorce of 1876“, when the City of St. Louis removed itself from St. Louis County, becoming an independent city with municipal & county offices. All have failed.

Past failure, however, doesn’t deter some from pushing the idea again. An editorial from last month: Time to go public on mediation talks for the Great Reconciliation. A perfect subject for a poll.

Here are the  options, in order from no change to big change:

  1. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain completely separate (no change)
  2. St. Louis City & St. Louis County should remain separate, but partner more
  3. St. Louis City should rejoin St. Louis County as the 91st municipally
  4. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities) should become one government body
  5. St. Louis City & St. Louis County (and all its municipalities, schools districts, fire districts, etc) should become one government body

The answers will be presented in random order in the poll, located in the right sidebar. Interestingly, any change would require a statewide vote since the state constitution would need to be amended.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: What Three (3) St. Louis Area Restaurants Have Closed That You Wish Were Still Open?

Many restaurants I remember from my childhood in Oklahoma City have since closed: Split-T, Al’s Hideaway BBQ, Nicolosi’s, etc. In my 23 years in St. Louis I’ve seen many restaurants come and go too. All I have left are fond memories.

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

The poll this week asks: What three (3) St. Louis area restaurants have closed that you wish were still open? So put on your nostalgia hat and review the list of 30 I’ve included as options in the poll:

  1. 94th Aerosquadron
  2. Bleeding Deacon
  3. Brandt’s
  4. Busch’s Grove
  5. Chez Leon
  6. Chuy Arzola’s (Dogtown)
  7. Del Taco
  8. Delmar Lounge
  9. Duff’s
  10. El Burrito Loco
  11. Empire Sandwich Shop
  12. Flaco’s Tacos
  13. King Louie’s
  14. Marty’s Baking
  15. Minions Cafe
  16. Miss Hullings
  17. Monarch
  18. O’Malley’s
  19. Papa Fabare’s
  20. Parkmoor
  21. Pestalozzi Place
  22. Red Moon
  23. Rossino’s
  24. Sunshine Inn
  25. The Salad Bowl
  26. Shangri La Diner
  27. The Stable
  28. Tangerine
  29. Tin Can
  30. Zoe’s Panasian

They’re alphabetical here but will be presented in random order in the poll (right sidebar). Here are more closed restaurants you might want to include in the other field:

  1. Colorado
  2. Gulf Coast Cafe
  3. Kitchen K
  4. Kopperman’s
  5. La Fourchette
  6. Mattingly’s
  7. Mojo Tapas
  8. Moxy
  9. Pelican
  10. Sage
  11. Simply Fondue
  12. Shuggas
  13. Southern Belle Supper Club
  14. Tanner B’s
  15. Terrene

You can also review a list of closed restaurants on UrbanSpoon.com.

Thanks to my Facebook friends with help generating all these names, I’d forgotten about many. Please share your memories in the comments below.

— Steve Patterson

 

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