Butterflies, Bees & Native Plants on the Greenways: 5 Places to Find Them Right Now

Whenever possible, we incorporate habitat restoration into our greenway projects. One way is by removing invasive plants—such as bush honeysuckle—and replacing them with native plants and trees to improve habitat and support pollinators. We also create rain gardens filled with native plants that not only attract bees and butterflies, but also help capture and filter storm water runoff. Here are 5 places to find native plants (and the pollinators they attract!) along greenways:

Come Celebrate the Expanded St. Vincent Greenway at Missouri History Museum’s Twilight Tuesdays Concert on Oct. 3

The new half-mile segment links Forest Park with Wellston’s Trojan Park, the Forest Park- DeBaliviere MetroLink Station and Delmar Loop along DeBaliviere Avenue

Residents of the region can now run, walk, ride a bike, use a wheelchair, push a stroller or connect to transit on the recently expanded St. Vincent Greenway that stretches 1.9 miles between Forest Park and Wellston’s Trojan Park. The one-half mile extension, completed earlier this year, parallels the soon-to be opened Loop Trolley on DeBaliviere between Delmar and Lindell.

Great Rivers Greenway and the City of St. Louis will celebrate the opening of the expanded greenway during the Missouri History Museum’s free Twilight Tuesdays Concert on Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 6 to 8 p.m. Residents are encouraged to pack a picnic basket and lawn chairs and come out to the event and check out the new extension. Those in attendance will enjoy musical entertainment from Project X – A Tribute to New Edition. Great Rivers Greenway Chief Executive Officer Susan Trautman, 26th Ward Alderman Frank Williamson and St. Louis 28th Ward Alderwoman Heather Navarro will be on hand to say a few words and cut the ribbon during the concert intermission at approximately 6:45 p.m.

“It’s fitting to celebrate the expanded St. Vincent Greenway where it connects to one of our region’s crown jewels—Forest Park,” said Great Rivers Greenway Chief Executive Officer Susan Trautman. “Twilight Tuesday is also a great time to introduce the community to this vibrant new space that links together neighborhoods, entertainment districts, schools, businesses, shopping, transit stops and the new Loop Trolley.”

Great Rivers Greenway staff will be set up on the greenway near Lindell to answer questions, hand out maps and other information about greenways across St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Concert-goers are invited to take a walk or ride on the expanded greenway to view all the places the newly expanded St. Vincent Greenway will take them.

The St. Vincent Greenway is currently divided into two segments. The southern end stretches from Forest Park to Trojan Park in Wellston and links together the neighborhoods, businesses, and attractions in between; the Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink Station, the Delmar Loop and Ruth Porter Mall Park. The northern segment stretches between the North Hanley Metrolink Station, through the University of Missouri-St. Louis Campus, to St. Vincent County Park.

An additional route to connect the greenway between Trojan Park (Etzel at Skinker) and St. Vincent County Park was identified in an extensive public engagement process in 2014. Great Rivers Greenway staff, community partners and the design team are continuing to work together on funding strategies and phasing. When complete, the St. Vincent Greenway will stretch seven miles from Forest Park to the North Hanley MetroLink Station.

Walk or Ride Through Time on the St. Vincent Greenway!

There are two segments of the St. Vincent Greenway. The northern portion runs 3.5 miles along the rolling hills of the UMSL campus through the lush and shady landscape of St. Vincent County Park.

On the south end, the greenway runs 1.9 miles from Trojan Park at Etzel and Skinker, through Ruth Porter Mall Park to Forest Park at Lindell.

Both segments offer a wide range of scenery—from historic neighborhoods, to parks, to an active university campus. Here are some historical tidbits and points of interest to think about as you explore and enjoy this greenway:

University of Missouri- St. Louis Campus

Did you know a portion of the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus was the Bellerive Country Club golf course? As you walk or ride over the rolling hills on the greenway that crosses the campus, you can easily imagine how it was once home to PGA tournaments and national amateur golf championships. Since 1960, the University has grown from a single building on the former country club to more than 50 buildings on 300 acres.

Natural Bridge Road

The northern section of the St. Vincent Greenway crosses Natural Bridge Road south of the UMSL Campus. Did you know that this roadway was once a route that wagon trains took west to the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails?

Ruth C. Porter Mall

The St. Vincent Greenway passes through Ruth C. Porter Mall Park between Delmar and Etzel. The park is named for Ruth C. Porter a tireless activist dedicated to eradicating inequality and discrimination in St. Louis.

A large portion of her work was focused on education. She introduced innovative leadership, tutoring programs and a new kindergarten at the Kinloch YMCA. Porter also co-founded the Kinder Cottage–a preschool whose  concepts of early education pre-dated Head Start. She also established Community Resources an organization that worked to integrate the city’s schools–a goal she felt went unrealized nearly a decade after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

As a founding member of the Greater St. Louis Committee for Freedom of Residence,  Porter became its first executive director, championing the fight for open housing in a city where redlining and restrictive covenants kept many African American families segregated.

At great personal sacrifice, she dedicated her life to improving the world in which she lived and building bridges between people of every race and class. She left an indelible mark on St. Louis and her home, the West End neighborhood.

St. Vincent Hospital

St. Vincent County park is named for the former St. Vincent’s Hospital first opened on the site in August 1895. Built  for the then-enormous cost of $500,000, it was the finest institutional building of its time. The interior included custom woodwork and stained glass windows and the 140 acres of surrounding landscape provided patients with therapy and recreation opportunities. Food for the patients was even grown on the hospital’s property. In 1977 the land surrounding the hospital was turned into a county park, and in 1980 St. Vincent County Park was opened to the public.

While it has since been converted to apartments, the castle-like building’s dramatic turrets, towers, and spires remain. When it first opened, the building was located between the Huntley and Eden Stations on the Wabash Railroad (now the MetroLink line). A railroad stop just for the hospital was added at the foot of a long series of steps that led up the hill to the main entrance. As you travel along the greenway, you can still see these steps once used by hospital staff, visitors, and the Daughters of Charity.

Hodiamont Street Car

The St. Vincent Greenway crosses over what was once the site of the West End Narrow Gauge Railroad–a passenger steam locomotive launched in 1875. This railroad enabled the exodus of affluent families from downtown to St. Louis to what was once considered the suburbs. The tracks eventually became the Hodiamont street car line. You can see where it once ran as you cross the site of the former tracks in the Hodiamont alley between Vernon and Cabanne Avenues.

When the St. Vincent Greenway is complete; it will extend 7 miles from NorthPark and the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus all the way to Forest Park.

The route to connect both sections of the greenway was identified after an extensive citizen engagement effort in 2014. Great Rivers Greenway staff and the design team are continuing to work together on design, funding strategies and phasing. Click here for the master plan for this greenway!

Trojan Park in St. Vincent Greenway Now Open in Wellston for All to Explore and Enjoy!

Saturday October 8 was a spectacular day to celebrate the transformation of a vacant lot in Wellston into the new 1-acre Trojan Park! Named after the mascot of Wellston’s former Eskridge High School, the park was designed by and for Wellston residents as a space for the community to gather and play. That’s exactly what happened as hundreds of people came together on a beautiful fall day to cut the ribbon and explore the park’s three playgrounds, family pavilion, butterfly garden, picnic tables, benches and full-size basketball court. The grand opening festivities included free pizza from the Pi Food truck, and music and dance performances. Former NBA player Larry Hughes was also on hand to lead a Jr. NBA clinic on the sport court.

Trojan Park lies within the larger St. Vincent Greenway—a seven-mile corridor that will stretch from the North Hanley MetroLink Station, near the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus, all the way to Forest Park.  The new park is an important component of the greenway’s master plan, serving as one of several community gathering spaces that also connect people to the greenway.

Trojan Park was developed as part of the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) 2016 Parks Build Community Initiative, which aims to demonstrate the transformative value of parks and recreation on communities across the country. Each year, NRPA builds a new park or revitalizes an existing park in partnership with recreational equipment manufacturers and community organizations within the region hosting its annual conference. Trojan Park represents the sixth Parks Build Community project aligned with the NRPA Annual Conference.

The park was built with the support of many partners and sponsors. Great Rivers Greenway collaborated with nonprofit partner Beyond Housing to engage the community, gathering critical input to form the park’s design.

The Municipal Park Grant Commission of St. Louis County provided a $315,000 grant to assist with site preparation and construction. Great Rivers Greenway secured the property, invested in the design and site preparation and has served as project manager. NRPA worked with playground equipment and park amenity manufacturers from across the country to receive donated site furnishings such as playground and fitness equipment, bike racks, lighting, drinking fountains and much more.

Great Rivers Greenway has also worked closely with the City of Wellston and the St. Louis County Parks Department to develop a detailed maintenance plan for Trojan Park they will be implementing together.

As project partners, sponsors and community members gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the new park, many parks and recreation professionals from across the nation were also in attendance as the 2016 NRPA Conference wrapped up in St. Louis. The festivities continued into the evening hours as current and former Wellston residents gathered in their new park for the annual Wellston homecoming celebration for a barbecue, fellowship, games, music, and dance performances.

For more information about the St. Vincent Greenway, click here.

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Special thanks to the following vendors and companies for making this project possible, including the St. Louis County Municipal Park Grant Commission:

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Greenway Project Updates

What’s happening around the greenways? Here are a few of the updates on what’s happening right now:

Gravois Greenway: Orlando’s to River des Peres Greenway (Grant’s Trail)

Designs for this much-anticipated extension that will extend the Gravois Greenway from Orlando’s to the River des Peres Greenway are underway. As with all rrmapprojects, the safety of the people using the greenway is a priority. To make this connection a reality, it will require two bridges and an underpass for an estimated cost of $10.2 million. We are working to leverage grants and private donations to fund the project. We have already been approved for a $2 million Transportation Alternative Program Grant from East West Gateway and a $1 million private grant from the Mysun Foundation. The goal is to begin construction in mid-2017. Stay tuned!

River des Peres Greenway

The 1 mile extension of the River des Peres Greenway from the Alabama Bridge to the Mississippi Greenway near the River City Casino will begin construction in mid-June and be finished by fall so you can connect to the Mississippi River Greenway and Jefferson Barracks Park! On the other end, planning continues on the extension from Lansdowne to Francis Slay Park (Intersection of Canterbury & Ellendale). Final designs are being developed with construction slated for late 2016 through 2017.

When both projects are complete, there will be a continuous path from Francis Slay Park in the City of St. Louis all the way to Jefferson Barracks County Park in south St. Louis County.  (That’s 13.5 total miles including the Christy Greenway and Carondelet Connector!)

Chouteau Greenway

The St. Louis region was awarded a $10.3 million US Department of Transportation TIGER grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) to construct a new MetroLink light rail station along with places for people to walk or ride bikes through the Cortex District.

As a primary partner on the application, Great Rivers Greenway will develop the first segment of the Chouteau Greenway between Boyle Avenue and Sarah Avenue as part of the overall project’s local match toward the TIGER grant. As soon as contract negotiations are complete, the project team will be announced and design work will begin immediately.  Design and engineering should continue through the end of 2016 with an early 2017 ground breaking for the new Boyle Avenue MetroLink Station and first constructed segment of Chouteau Greenway.

Maline Greenway

Construction of three replacement bridges in Bella Fontaine Park, new and refurbished trails, and an underpass that will connect both sides of Lewis & Clark Boulevard on this first 3.5 mile segment of the Maline Greenway are expected to begin later this year.

Centennial Greenway: Bridges over 364 & 94

This project will connect the existing Centennial Greenway to neighboring communities on the other side of the intersection of highways 364 and 94.  These two bridges will eliminate this barrier for people walking or riding bikes and connect the existing trail system to Wapelhorst Park in St. Charles and Laurel Park in St. Peters.  MoDOT is currently reviewing final plans and construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2017.

St. Vincent Greenway

ST VINCENT RUTH PORTER MAN WALKING SUMMERThe Loop Trolley Project on DeBaliviere Avenue that is extending the St. Vincent Greenway from Delmar to Forest Park is underway and will be finished this fall. Design and engineering of the route identified in 2014 from Etzel and Skinker in Wellston to St. Vincent County Park will continue through 2017. A new 1-acre  “pocket park” will come to life at the corner of Etzel and Skinker in October 2016! Click here for the details.

When this “missing link” is complete, it will connect the cities of Wellston and Pagedale to the Wellston and St. Charles Rock Road MetroLink stations and St. Vincent County Park. It will also complete a seven mile, continuous greenway stretching all the way from Forest Park, across the University of Missouri-St. Louis Campus, to the North Hanley MetroLink Station!

You can find the current and future status of each greenway on the master plan page here.