Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Complicated transformations

Getting through the remaking of the connection between the Arch grounds and riverfront will be a complicated transformation. Not only will reaching agreement on the overall plan be difficult, it will be an equal or greater challenge getting the many governmental agencies holding jurisdiction to sign off on each others' requirements.

The National Park Service controls the Arch grounds and lands under Memorial Drive and the depressed lanes, but the City of St. Louis and MODOT determine uses of local and state roadways.

The City Street Department and the Board of Aldermen decide the future of city streets, while the Federal Highway Administration is over the US highway system.

East West Gateway Coordinating Council serves as lead agency over transporation projects in the bi-state region.

Various citizen and community groups have their list of priorities and concerns. The city of St. Louis has a long list of civic responsibilities and adding the cost of rebuilding Memorial Drive isn't on the list.

Something this big only takes one interested party to block the process, while it will take countless organizations and individuals to buy in and say "yes" to make it happen. Given the level of difficulty involved in carrying out such an ambitious effort, maybe that explains why some consider the task "infeasible" or "undoable"?

Like the pragmatist saying goes: "don't let the great be the enemy of the good". Even if replacing the depressed lanes with a new Memorial Drive is the best long term plan, maybe we'd be better off lowering expectations to gain more cooperation?

How much effort is this concept worth? Better to spend the same time working to add a quality baseball field in South City so all teams there have a place to practice and play games?

Funny thing is, there are those thinking given neighborhood resistence, that's a near impossible task too...so what's one to do?

Let's pursue both.

1 comment:

Michael R. Allen said...

Good point. We only have either/or choices if we confine ourselves to them. There are some who would think the Memorial Drive vision is "unrealistic," but that's exactly the point. Vision is by definition "unrealistic" because vision involves imagining a different reality. Confining vision to reality means not having any vision at all.