2019-Q4 Newsletter


Another year has passed and we again look forward to the year to come. In this newsletter, lets reflect on 2019, preview what's coming in 2020, and check in on the status of the mall...

As a reminder, I will continue to add more posts to the website, as events occur and information is available.

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Click on the topics below to view each article.

AFFTON FIRE DISTRICT LAWSUIT - In January the city appealed a previous ruling against them on the Affton Fire District lawsuit. This appeal eventually was heard by the Missouri Supreme Court in September and we are awaiting their decision. An audio recording of that Supreme Court appearance can be heard here.

A NEW MCDONALDS? - Although the owners of the Crestwood McDonalds gained approval to tear down and replace the existing McDonalds, apparently they changed their mind or at least delayed the project. When I last asked one of the managers, they indicated that it may not happen until 2021 or later. So there should be no disruption of your Big Mac supply for a while.

MSD STORAGE FACILITY - Metro Sewer District broke ground on their $40 million project to create two storage tanks capable of holding up to 7.8 million gallons. Without these tanks, sewage can overflow into Gravois creek during heavy rain events. After completion, that sewage will be pumped into the tanks and later pumped back into the sewer system.

NEW TRASH SERVICE - In April Waste Connections began service in Crestwood, replacing Meridian. As a reminder, you may qualify for a discount if you are 65 or older or qualify as a limited income household. More info here and here.

BRITE-WORX CAR WASH - An application to tear down the old Sweet Tomatoes restaurant and build a car wash was rejected (4 to 3) in March, and again (6 to 2) in April by the Board of Alderman. The site is still for sale.

APRIL ELECTION - This year 5 of the 8 Alderman seats were on the ballot. All 5 were uncontested, and all of those on the ballot were incumbents except for myself. Lindbergh Proposition R passed with a 77% Yes Vote, and MSD’s Proposition S failed with a 53% No Vote. Full results are posted here.

RAYBURN PARK DEDICATION - This park was completely renovated with all new playground equipment, improved parking, and new paved trails. Here is related news article in the Times.

SCHOOL ZONE SPEEDING FINES - After a lengthy discussion the Board of Alderman approved an ordinance increasing the speeding fines in school zones (double and triple depending on the speed). Part of this ordinance required posting new signs warning drivers of the increased fines, with the goal of slowing drivers. Unfortunately, I don't think that goal was achieved.

A small sign stating "Increased Fines" was posted at the Crestwood and Long Elementary school zones (where the primary speeding issues occur). Neither those small signs nor the increased fines have cured the problem. The Board had requested "very obvious" blinking signs, but St. Louis county prohibited them on Sappington (a road they maintain). This issue still needs to be revisited, and Our Lady of Providence and Truman schools may warrant better signage, so stay tuned.

COMMUNITY SHRED DAY - In August the City provided a free paper shredding event for the first time. This event was very successful and is planned to be repeated again in the summer of 2020.

CITY HALL FLOODING - On the morning of Saturday August 10 a water main connecting the Missouri American Water tower ruptured, sending thousands of gallons of water into the City Hall. This caused months of remediation efforts removing drywall, flooring, paper records, and office items. Workers are still relocated elsewhere in City Hall and in a temporary trailer.

The 2020 budget has substantial funding to repair the damage and also complete overdue updates at the same time. The planning and bidding process for this work has begun, but completion will probably not occur until much later in the year.

PARKS AND REC ONLINE REGISTRATION - The City moved to a new online registration application to allow residents a much easier and efficient way to register for classes and programs. Shortly after it was activated it was obvious that residents are using the new system much more than the old one, resulting in savings for the City and a better experience for the residents.

GRANTS AND AWARDS - The city was awarded multiple grants, including a $370K grant to fund updates to the Aquatic Center, a $125K grant to fund updates to the Whitecliff Quarry, and $5K grant to aid in the digitization of paper records.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA ANNOUNCEMENT - Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has begun the announcement process for Medical Marijuana related businesses. In December they announced award of licenses for Testing, Transportation, and Cultivation facilities. In January 2020, they plan to announce license issuance for Infused Product Manufacturing, Dispensary, and "Seed to Sale" businesses.

As I discussed in the Q3 Newsletter, there are multiple locations in Crestwood that applied for dispensary licenses. If any of the Crestwood businesses are licensed, they still need approval from the City (based upon pre-determined criteria which most business should be able to comply with). Here is the DHSS announcement schedule.

APRIL BALLOT - Crestwood residents will have two city-related issues on the April 7 General Election ballot.

The 3-year term of our Mayor ends this year and Mayor Grant Mabie has filed for re-election. I am unaware of any other candidates that have filed for this position.

Crestwood residents will also vote on the renewal of the previously 2002 voter-approved Capital Improvement Sales Tax, with no expiration date. Without this renewal, the sales tax is due to expire in 2023. The revenues from this tax have been critical to the sound financial status the city currently enjoys, while also funding major capital improvements throughout the city.

PARK UPDATES - As discussed earlier, the Aquatic Center will receive major repairs and some updates including a new kiddie pool feature. Improvements to the Quarry are also scheduled to begin in 2020, but due to reporting requirements associated with the $125K grant, progress will be slower than normal and may not complete during the year.

Updates to the Community Center will include Basketball Backboard replacement (in the gym), Curtain Divider in the gym, partition doors between rooms 106/107, new A/C units (part of the building).

The rubberized playground surfaces at Whitecliff and Sanders Parks will be replaced.

CITY HALL UPDATES - Updates to City Hall will include Police Dept locker room updates, replacement of 1970's original windows, replacement and modification to skylights (currently broken and covered with a tarp), bathroom renovations, BoA meeting room updates, reconfiguration of some office spaces in the basement, and replacement of lots of office furniture, walls, doors, flooring, etc. This is a huge project costing over $1m.

NEW CITY WEBSITE - The current website for the city is outdated and often hard to navigate. A newly designed site should be available later in 2020 to improve the interface and make information easier to find.

SAPPINGTON HOUSE REPAIRS - This historic structure has been experiencing water damage, so the Sappington House staff put together a plan to make repairs and implement measures to divert water away from the structure ongoing. Repairs will be funded in part by the City and by the Sappington House Society

Back in October, Kent Evans, a partner at Walpert appeared at the Board of Alderman meeting to provide a status on their redevelopment project. He read a prepared statement and answered questions from the board.

In short he said that the project scope has grown substantially, progress continues to be made, and he hoped to provide a formal announcement by the end of 2019. That announcement didn't happen, so now what?

The Mall has been empty (or mostly empty) for nearly a decade. Demolition was completed in 2017. In 2018 piles of dirt ("Mount Crestwood") appeared and was later leveled after the City cited the owner with permit violations.

In October 2018, Walpert Properties unveiled their plans for the site and began the process of gathering enough tenants to fund the project. According to Kent Evans at Walpert, the scope continued to grow and is now three times what they started with (that's good news!).

In the mean time, we've all seen the substantial amount of fill dirt that has been spread on this property. The fact that the owners continue to spend funds to improve the site is encouraging, but multiple missed announcement timeframes has left everyone just a bit skeptical and impatient. I am not one of those people.

As an Alderman, I am not "in the loop" for the behind the scenes negotiations with Walpert, but I have heard that progress continues to be made. This doesn't happen to a project that is dead. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they are in the final stages of planning, gathering tenants, and partnering with investors. Once that happens, we should hear something concrete and things will start to happen. Since they have missed every "scheduled" announcement thus far, I won't speculate when this announcement will come.

That said - it's worth remembering that this will be a huge project and will take many years to complete. Progress will seem too slow and the construction will be annoying (especially for nearby residents). I actually feel that even with the failed redevelopment attempts in the past, the plans we've seen so far seem better than those previously proposed.

Sometimes slow is best. Fingers crossed!

If you missed any of the previous newsletters, you can find a link to all of them here.