Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Looking for the next big thing
St. Louis is on the move. There are always things happening. It's an exciting place, filled with interesting people and cool projects. There's something for almost everyone.
The big issues get lots of media focus, but it's the little stuff that needs our daily attention. A new motto for me is "everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to clean up their own block" (can't claim credit for that one; it was shared with me by a local historian/neighborhood advocate).
Over in Jefferson City, one of the big issues is the fight to restore local control of the St. Louis police department to St. Louis citizens. It's a big issue that dates back 150 years. It was looking like 2011 might be the year that St. Louisans are re-enfranchised with their own police department. But now, it appears the bill might be blocked over pending tax credit reform legislation.
So, while the legislature works the politics over the local control issue, residents in St. Louis neighborhoods continue to work to strengthen the quality of life on their own blocks. The big thing of local control may never happen. Addressing quality of life challenges will be with us no matter the outcome over local control.
Up in Hyde Park, the long abandoned and severely dilapidated North St. Louis Turner Hall (officially known as the Nord St. Louis Turnverein) has finally been demolished. The demolition marks a milestone in the history of the site. Presently it is a vacant lot with salvaged bricks stacked on pallets. It might be years before the site has a new use. The bricks might end up in a driveway in Dallas.
In the meantime, Hyde Park residents have lots of little things to do, just as they always have. Care for Hyde Park. Insist on strong maintenance of quality of life priorities. Work together. Keep an eye out for one another.
The Avalon Theater has been the subject of controversy for over ten years. It sits a blight on South Kingsghway in the Southampton neighborhood. Poll area residents and you might learn that the majority prefer demolition. But that's not happening for a variety of reasons. Something will happen with the Avalon someday, and some people will be pleased and others disappointed. When that will happen, no one knows.
Meanwhile, not so far away, I saw a locally owned real estate office, branded with the names of two upstanding St. Louis families. Meanwhile, the lawn in front of the building had grown to over 1 foot in height! What is up with that? It's in a high traffic location and is an embarrasment.
Walking through the neighborhood the other day, I saw the most uplifted section of sidewalk I've ever seen. The section was elevated a full five inches, the mother of all trip hazards. I don't know if I should call my alderman, the homeowner, the parish priest, or the street department. But someone has to pay attention to these sorts of things.
We may not be able to effect much change on the things that seem the the biggest issues. Those big things will work themselves out on their own time. Think Ballpark Village. But we can be effective in making sure the little things get the care they deserve. In the end, keeping up with the countless little things - even things so mundane as weeding the yard - can make the biggest positive impact on our quality of life - today.