Arch-Parks-Trails funding headed for vote in STL & STL County, but facing resistance in St Charles County Council

A proposal to fund trails, parks, and improvements and connections to the Arch grounds in St. Louis is moving forward in St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

But--surprise, surprise!--the proposal is running into stiff opposition in the St. Charles County Council. 

St. Louis Arch
St. Louis Arch

If you live in St. Charles County and believe this important issue should be put to a vote of the people, take a moment to contact your County Council members and tell them so. Contact information is below.

The Council--featuring many of the same members who supported a plan to ban bicycling on state roads on St. Charles County--is refusing to foot the bill for an election that would allow voters to decide whether or not to impose a tax to fund the regions trails & parks plan.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has details:

Four council members said they had been willing to consider the idea but backed off in part because a regional parks agency overseeing the project refused to pay the county’s extra election costs. There are no countywide issues on the ballot, so the sales tax question would require additional polling places.

Two other council members oppose the tax plan altogether. A seventh couldn’t be reached for comment but has previously expressed opposition.

“I guess it’s a dead issue for now” unless somebody steps forward to foot the estimated $150,000 to $175,000 election bill, said Councilman John White, R-St. Charles County.

Regional backers of the plan said they were disappointed at the St. Charles County situation but are prepared to move forward with just St. Louis and St. Louis County taking part.

“Financially, it would mean about 20 percent less” generated for the project, said Susan Trautman, executive director of Great Rivers Greenway, the regional parks agency. . . . 

White said he has an election ordinance ready to introduce at the council’s meeting Monday night if someone would cover the cost.

But the board of Great Rivers Greenway voted Tuesday to reject the request by county officials.

A Greenway attorney said the agency couldn’t legally use district funds to put on the election, a point disputed by the county.

Both St. Louis City and St. Louis County are moving forward with plans to hold an election in April.  If approved by voters in both the city and the county, the plan will move forward.

What St. Charles County loses by not participating

The opportunities that are lost if St. Charles County does not participate:

  • Most of the money--at least 70%--raised in St. Charles County remains in the county to be used to build and improve trails, trail connections, and parks within the County.
  • Being part of a regional trails and parks effort allows County trails to interconnect and become part of a larger, more effective, regional trails system and vision--a much more effective way to plan and build trails and parks in the long run than our typical piecemeal, unplanned system.
  • The local funding created by the tax will leverage federal, state, and private funding, so in many cases St. Charles County will lose both the funding raised by the tax and the additional, leveraged funding.
  • St. Charles County voters lose the chance to vote up or down on the small tax increase--which amounts to only 3/16 of a cent.

Why the Arch/Parks/Trails Plan is important for regional bicycle/pedestrian connectivity in the great St. Louis area

If you would like to see greatly accelerated connectivity for bicycling, walking, and trails throughout the St. Louis metro area, this plan is the best on the table by far and likely the best we'll see for some decades to come.  Keep in mind that a portion of the funding is for area parks and the Arch grounds--which may not be your highest priority if you are interested in bicycle and pedestrian safety and connectivity.

But the funding will also greatly accelerate the growth and connectivity of the region's trail network--the River Ring and all the local trail connections that feed into that vision.

In addition, Great Rivers Greenway has been the force and the funding behind key regional bicycle connectivity initiatives:

If you'd like to see initiatives like this continued, accelerated, and expanded, the Arch/Park/Trails funding is the way to make it happen.

And we know that citizens are inclined to support initiatives like this, that create regional bike/ped connectivity and great more health, vibrant, livable, and interconnected communities.

But citizens can support these initiatives unless elected leaders give them a chance to vote.

What St Charles County residents can do

If you live in St. Charles County and would like to see this important issue put to an up-or-down vote of the people, you can contact St. Charles County Council members:

All St. Charles County Council members: 

Ph: 636.949.7530
Fx: 636.949.7532
council@sccmo.org

Individual council members: 

 

 

JCronin jbrazil NMatheny2012
Council District 1 Council District 2 Council District 3
Joe Cronin Joe Brazil Nancy Matheny
jcronin@sccmo.org jbrazil@sccmo.org Chairperson
    nmatheny@sccmo.org
     

  thollander1  
Council District 4 Council District 5 Council District 6
Dave Hammond Terry Hollander Mike Klinghammer
dhammond@sccmo.org thollander@sccmo.org mklinghammer@sccmo.org
     
     

jwhite    
Council District 7    
John White    
jwwhite@sccmo.org

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