Q1 NEWSLETTER 2022 - CURRENT ISSUE

JANUARY - MARCH 2022

2022 should be a big year for Crestwood.

Many projects are planned for the year, including about 4-times the normal street repair activity. The city will be fixing concrete streets, asphalt streets, and will be treating the asphalt streets that were installed during the past few years. The Parks department will be working on a city-wide Parks Master Plan. The Fire Department is considering major changes including ambulance service. And the Police Department is using new technology and proven strategies to address crime and traffic issues. More to come on each of these as they develop.

In this newsletter I'll cover some of the projects that have already started. Let's go!

As a reminder, I will continue to add more posts to the website, as events occur and information is available. So be sure to visit shipleyward3.org, or better yet, subscribe to receive weekly/ monthly updates via e-mail.

Click on the topics below to view each article.

Engineers core drilling soil samples below bridge

As you may remember, the bridge over Gravois Creek in Whitecliff Park is scheduled to be replaced, with actual construction happening in 2023. This project is estimated to cost over $1.5 million, with 80% of the funding coming from a federal grant. That leaves about $300K to be paid for by the city.

During 2021, city staff worked to prepare the bid documents for the design, engineering, and project management tasks. That work was awarded in December 2021, and you may have noticed surveyors and workers in the area during February and March.

In addition to replacing the bridge, the entire entrance to the park will also be reevaluated for improved traffic flow and pedestrian access. Another part of the project will be to determine if an extension to Grant’s Trail could be installed along Pardee Road, allowing for improved connectivity between the park and the trail. When this was discussed, I expressed concerns about the impact to residents on that part of Pardee Road, but the majority of the board felt that it still warranted design and planning. Extensive conversations with those residents will be needed before any such project could proceed past a design phase. So, we’ll see what happens there.

As the actual construction work planned for 2023 nears, more conversations and decisions will be made regarding the timing of that project and how to minimize impact to the neighborhood and residents using the park.

Survey flags and markers along Pardee Road near Eddie and Park Road

If you have driven by the southern-most part of Pardee Road (near Eddie and Park Road), you may have noticed lots of those survey flags along the road. What’s going on there?

In partnership with Lindbergh School District, the city has contracted for design and engineering work to install new sidewalks near Sappington School and Crestwood School. The section of Pardee Road between Eddie/Park and 9327 Pardee Road does not have a continuous sidewalk and as you know – this is a narrow, hilly, winding road. There are short stretches with a sidewalk, but pedestrians are still forced to walk in the street or along the rough grade on most of this area. Installing a new sidewalk won’t be easy here, so the work will be divided into two phases – Phase 1 is about 570 feet between Eddie/Park and Garber, and Phase 2 another 750 feet between Garber and 9327 Pardee Road.

The other sidewalk project near Crestwood School will be on Elmont, Westglen, and Trelane – about 1,000 feet total. That too will be divided into two phases.

The design work being done will help the city to develop bid documents, which should be issued soon. Phase 1 is targeted to be completed in 2022.

You can view a copy of your sample ballot along with additional descriptions of each item HERE.

After the page loads, type in your address and it will show the ballot for your area. I think Ward 3 has two or three different versions.

St. Louis County has several “charter amendments” on the ballot. These are items that will update the county charter, and thus need voter approval. I’m not “in the loop” for any of these, but I did some reading of meeting minutes and formed some opinions. Here’s what I learned.

ST LOUIS COUNTY – PROPOSITION A

This is a question of budgeting. Apparently, the some of the County Executive’s staff salaries are funded from various other department budgets. This proposition requests to move that funding entirely to the County Executive’s budget. Back when the County was audited by the State, it was the recommendation of the auditor to consolidate this funding.

ST LOUIS COUNTY – PROPOSITION B

This proposition would “change the requirements for the position of county executive so that the county executive shall hold no other employment nor shall the county executive perform work as an independent contractor during the term of office and that a violation of either of these restrictions shall cause the county executive to forfeit the office and the office shall be declared vacant…”

So, this is aimed at the current County Executive, since he is a doctor and apparently does some medical work on weekends, etc.

It’s no secret that the County Council doesn’t always get along with the County Executive, so this is probably designed to “poke” at him a bit. That said – it’s up to the voters to determine if the County Executive should be allowed to work outside the office or not.

ST LOUIS COUNTY – PROPOSITION C

This relates to sales tax on online purchases. It states “Shall St. Louis County impose a local use tax at the same rate as the total local sales tax rate, provided that if the local sales tax rate is reduced or raised by voter approval, the local use tax rate shall also be reduced or raised by the same action “

With more shopping being done online, this would tax those purchases at the same rate as local purchases from “brick and mortar” stores. If passed, this would bring new revenues to Crestwood from the County, but it also helps local businesses compete with online retailers on a (more) level playing field.

ST LOUIS COUNTY – PROPOSITION D

This proposition would allow the County to lease part of Queeny Park to Raintree School to create a “forest school” where much of the learning is outdoors. They will be using the building where the “Dog Museum” formerly resided. This was recommended to the Council by the Parks Director and approved unanimously by the council. The school committed to invest $5 million and will result in $2.8 million in rental fees to the County over the term of the 40-year lease.

CITY OF CRESTWOOD – ALDERPERSON WARD 3

Alderman Greg Hall is running unopposed for another 3-year term. I have been extremely impressed with his background and knowledge. Alderman Hall is the current President of the Board of Alderman and has served us well. He has my vote!

CITY OF CRESTWOOD – PROPOSITION 1

This proposition is asking if the city should increase the current fire protection sales-tax by a 1/4 percent (that’s 25 cents on a $100 purchase). The city will use these additional funds to help with fire department operations and allow the department to establish in-house ambulance service. The current tax rate is 1/4 percent, so this would raise that rate to 1/2 percent. Funds can only be used for fire department expenses.

Today the city contracts with Abbott Ambulance. They provide two ambulances to support three municipalities – Crestwood, Rock Hill, and Maplewood. When the Crestwood ambulance is available, it works great and they normally arrive with the Crestwood Fire Department paramedics. However, when it’s not available, their “backup” ambulance must come from farther away and takes longer.

Crestwood Fire Department had worked previously with Abbott to correct the response time issues, but due to industry staffing issues no tangible improvements were shown. Actual response time data from Jan-Aug 2021 was studied and data from the city’s dispatch center showed even slower response time data so the city determined it’s time to work towards a new solution and Proposition 1 was created.

Abbott finally took notice and has been improving their response times during the past few months. Their average response time is about 7 minutes, which is better but still longer than the city’s average of less than 4 minutes. Should Proposition 1 pass, the city will purchase two ambulances (one as a backup) and should be ready to start ambulance service in late 2022. Additional staff is also planned, but the department will evaulate needs after a trial period of running the ambulance with current staff.

LINDBERGH SCHOOL BOARD (Residents in Lindbergh SD)

There are four people running for this position – you get to vote for two. Below are the website addresses of the candidates, and a link to a YouTube recording of the Lindbergh Candidate Forum https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzqhovPeBHc

AFFTON SCHOOL BOARD (Residents in Affton SD)

There are two candidates running for two open seats (so they will both be elected). Jordan Levinson and Michael McNeil

AFFTON FIRE DISTRICT PROPOSITION S (“Annex area” residents only)

The Affton Fire Protection District is looking to raise property rates by 10 cents per $100 valuation – from the current $1.12. Proceeds will be directed to their pension fund. If passed, this would be the third tax raise in 10 years approximately doubling the rate in that period.

Residents of Crestwood that live in the “Annex area” are served by the Affton Fire Protection District, but don’t pay this assessment on their taxes. Instead, the City of Crestwood pays Affton on behalf of these residents. Today that is about $550,000 per year. This annual cost would increase accordingly if this proposition passes.

By the way - Comparing the $1.12 rate for Affton Fire District, the assessment rate for the City of Crestwood and all the services provided (fire, police, parks, public works, etc.) is exactly half that at $0.56. What a deal!

Heavy equipment staged for grading work at the old mall site

Start up the bulldozers! Site work has begun at the former mall site, now called Crestwood Crossing. If you have driven by recently, you have surely noticed the platoon of bulldozers and other heavy equipment. They have started removing the old trees and breaking up the remaining concrete and asphalt. Some of this debris will be removed and some will be crushed to create gravel and sub-fill for new parking surfaces.

Dierbergs filed their “Notice of Intent To Proceed” document with the City, which starts all of the project phases and deadlines. The first phase (1A) must be completed within 24 months (by March 2024). Dierbergs has previously stated they plan to open sometime in 2023 so I don’t expect issues meeting the deadline.

Phase 1A includes the completion (and opening) of the Dierbergs store, the shops/restaurants attached to their store on each side, all of the site grading, and installation of the bridge over Gravois Creek near Watson Industrial Park – creating pedestrian and cyclist access to the site from Grants Trail.

While not officially part of Phase 1A, McBride will also start selling and building homes during the same timeframe. They previously stated they expect to start selling homes later this year with construction of the new homes happening during 2023. In total, they will be building 81 single-family homes, with 34 from McBride’s Bayside Series, 16 from their Oakwood Series, and 31 city-style homes that were featured at La Collina, McBride’s recent neighborhood development on The Hill. You can view pictures of the planned home styles HERE.

This is finally the start of progress that has been years in the making. I’m excited to watch and see this site once again become a busy part of the city.

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