ALERT: Key Mississippi Greenway Trail Connection in St. Louis County needs your support today

UPDATE 16 February 2017: Success!  Great Rivers Greenway and County Councilman Ernie Trakas continued discussions about the trail--spurred on by the many messages and phone calls St Louis County officials received in support of it.

End result: The Cliff Cave Park Trail in south St. Louis County is moving forward!
 
Huge thanks to everyone who took the time contact the County--it really did make a difference. Many thanks to County Councilman Ernie Trakas and to Great Rivers Greenway for continuing the discussion, and for the amazing regional advocacy work of Trailnet, which has the local connections and boots on the ground to really get things done in the St Louis region.
 
 
Thanks to your support, St. Louis County will have an amazing and beautiful new trail connection in place by later this year!
 
FURTHER UPDATE (4 April 2017): A few residents who still oppose the trail have filed a lawsuit in a last-ditch attemp to stop construction.  However, the lawsuit has essentially no merit and a judge has denied a request to stop trail construction while the lawsuit proceeds.
 
Meanwhile, trail construction has started and it is clear that by far the majority of residents support the trail.
 
Original article:
 

An important trail in south St. Louis County, years under development and with broad public support, is being stopped by one new St. Louis County Council member.

Trakas claims that emails on the subject are running 50-50 for and against the trail. We need to change that in a BIG way if we want to save this important trail.  We need 10-to-1 in support--or better. Your help is vital.

Please take 2 minutes today to call & email Councilman Ernie Trakas "I support the Cliff Cave Park Trail - Please don't slow or stop it."

ETrakas@stlouisco.com - 314-615-5442 OR his assistant Carmen Wilkerson 314-615-0159 - cwilkerson@stlouisco.com

If you live in the STL County, please also cc: your own County Council member.

Contact info for all County Council members & more details about the situation below.

New article indicates officials meeting this week to make decisions; Delay may kill the trail project

The Call has a new article this week about the Cliff Cave Park Trail project that paints an ominous picture of the ability of one single, new County Council member to stop a project that already has years of planning and development behind it, many public meetings, broad public support, and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested:

Future of Cliff Cave Park trail in doubt if shelved this month 

If a new trail in Cliff Cave Park is shelved this month due to objections from neighbors, it may never get built.

The Cliff Cave Park Trail will connect neighborhoods and the MS River Greenway
The Cliff Cave Park Trail will connect neighborhoods and existing bike lanes on Telegraph Road to an existing 4.6 mile trail along the Mississippi River and make an irreplaceable connection in the massive Mississippi River Greenway trail system.


Great Rivers Greenway, or GRG, hopes to build a 2-mile paved loop, similar to Grant's Trail, in Oakville.

The path would wind up and down the bluffs from a trailhead on Cliff Cave Road and end at a pedestrian-only entrance at Telegraph and Erb roads.

The $5 million trail is on hold at the County Council due to concerns 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, wants to convey to GRG from nearby residents who worry about traffic and safety. . . .


"This is an extremely important project to the development of our trail system throughout the county, and it's a really neat project for the 6th District," county Parks Director Gary Bess said. "It's got a great trail system that will connect the on-street bike lanes on Telegraph to the lower section of the park, it provides for a great overlook where you can see the Mississippi River. It's just a great addition to the park and a great addition to the regional trail system." . . .

The project is in the final planning stages and shovel-ready at any minute, and if it is delayed, GRG could likely drop it due to rebidding and redesign costs, Trautman said.

"It would be extremely difficult for us to proceed with the project if we dropped it this year," she said. "We've made quite a significant investment already, and I would hate to lose that investment."

The regional trail district is comprised of St. Louis County and city and St. Charles County, and if the project is scuttled, south county residents could send a signal that new trails are unwanted, Bess said.

"If we don't do this, not only are we losing that recreational opportunity for residents, I think we're also jeopardizing future projects from a trails perspective in the 6th District," Bess said. "I hope we don't send the wrong signal to our partners at GRG that they should not expand trails in the 6th District." . . .

GRG has modified the original design based on feedback, including downsizing the Telegraph entrance, downsizing the proposed new parking lot at Cliff Cave by half, moving it back from the road and surrounding it with a landscape buffer, Bess said.

But none of those concessions is enough to appease residents who oppose the trail.

The trail is not only an important local connection, but is a vital connection in the Mississippi Greenway project--a plan to create continuously connect trail along the Mississippi River throughout the entire St. Louis region.

Without the Cliff Cave Park Trail--which takes trail users over several obstacles otherwise impossible to cross--the Mississippi River Greenway project will remain forever disconnected at this point.

Suggested message in support of the Cliff Cave Park Trail

  • Be polite and persuasive when you contact your elected officials--this is by far the most effective approach.
  • Use a brief, clear subject line such as "I strongly support the Cliff Cave Park Trail"
  • Clearly state that you strongly support the trail and strongly oppose his effort to slow or stop it.  Your support it and support moving forward with it quickly. Delay is equivalent to opposition (unfortunately, in this case).
    St Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas has indicated he may oppose the trail
    St Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas has indicated he may oppose the Cliff Cave Trail
  • A short message is as effective or more effective than a long one.
  • Include your connection to the County (live, work, visit, vacation, etc) , especially if you live work, or visit St. Louis County District 6, Ernie Trakas's district in SE St. Louis County.
  • Include a sentence or two, or a quick story, showing why trails, bicycling, and walking are important to you personally, to your community, and/or to St. Louis County.

Your message is about Cliff Cave Park specifically, but is also a valuable opportunity to raise the profile and importance of trails, bicycling, and walking with the St. Louis County Council.

County Council members need to know that the County has many strong supporters of the bicycle, pedestrian, and trail system in the County.

We are working closely with our local partners, members, and affected agencies on this effort, including Trailnet, the regional St. Louis area advocacy group that works the create positive change in the St. Louis bi-state region by encouraging healthy, active living and that founded the region's trail system in the 1990s.  Look for more information coming soon from both us and our local and regional partners on this important issue.

Contact Information for St. Louis County Council

If you live in the County, contact your own County Council representative and also cc: Mr. Trakas, who is the key decision-maker on this issue.

If you don't live in the County or have a connection to a particular Council District, you might email Mr. Trakas and cc: Steven Stenger, St. Louis County Executive.

Phone calls are very helpful. And email message is also helpful, and both phone and email followup is best of all. A posted letter or fax is also very effective, simply because constuents more rarely take the time to send a 'real' letter and that makes each one more impactful.

Map of St. Louis County Council Districts.

Working to create and support a complete, connected, world-class statewide bicycle, pedestrian and trails system is one of the primary goals in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. Project like the Cliff Cave Trail and the Mississippi Greenway are important connections in that statewide vision.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support helps turn our Vision in to reality!

 

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