Thursday, August 07, 2008

It's St. Louis - Everybody Wants a Piece of Us!

A couple of Saturdays ago, I spent an hour at Wilmore Park interviewing park users about the idea of building a new, varsity level baseball field in some passive open space at the park. The only people against the idea were two older women from South County using the park to walk their dogs.

The recent trouble in the police department raises the perennial question of local control. Since the Civil War, the governor of the state appoints the Board of Police Commissioners for the St. Louis police department. We don't control our own police department!

Back in the 1930s, when the riverfront area was blighted and decaying, a grand plan led to the creation of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the Arch - and cessation of local control over the St. Louis riverfront to an agency of the federal government - the National Park Service. We don't control the entry to our own downtown!

And way back in 1927, Lambert Field was sold to the City of St. Louis, becoming the first municipally owned airport in the United States. Ever since, St. Louis County has wanted to have say over the city-owned asset. Some would try to take away our airport!

They say St. Louisans have an inferiority complex. Is it any wonder?


Anonymous said...

rick, you are the first person I have seen to make note of this pattern, particularly in light of the Jefferson Memorial. this long standing plan on the part of our civic, business and political leadership essentially said that in order to have the entrance to the city that St. Louis needs we need to remove any traces of the local community that marks St. Louis' identity and turn the area over to federal control. The result has been a place--administratively and aesthetically-has nothing to do with the rest of the city.

The other part of the story is that the two federal agencies that most control the riverfront--the park service and the army corp of engineers--are not know for being the easiest to work with.

Seth Teel said...

I say we Sell the Airport to the County in exchange for annexation of our choice of inner-ring suburbs. We stand to gain a lot more than we do from that tired ole' airport (especially considering diminishing amount of flights do to fuel costs.).