Great Rivers Greenway is dedicated to our mission to make the St. Louis region a more vibrant place to live, work and play by developing a regional network of greenways. We collaborate with partners all around the region to fulfill the community’s vision for this network and we take our job of stewarding the taxpayers’ investment very seriously.
As you may know, we have been working with municipal partners on a project to connect Deer Creek Greenway from Deer Creek Park and shopping center through the cities of Maplewood and St. Louis to connect to the River des Peres Greenway. This project originated in 2004 and has had various alignments studied to determine feasibility over the past 14 years. In 2015, with supporting letters from the Cities of Maplewood and St. Louis and St. Louis County, Great Rivers Greenway successfully secured a $1.6 million federal grant for the northern route option.
When an alternate alignment (along the creek) showed signs of being feasible again in August 2017, Great Rivers Greenway met with the Maplewood City Council to discuss options. The community engagement process continued with a Maplewood public meeting in October, an online survey, an outreach event at the Schlafly Farmer’s Market in Maplewood in December, a community workshop at Maplewood City Hall in December and a neighborhood meeting in January in the City of St. Louis, the other municipal partner on this project. The community’s preference was for the northern alignment and we shared the full results of the engagement efforts with all project partners.
Maplewood City Council discussed the alignment options during several Council meetings and work sessions and had difficulty reaching consensus, reporting a stalemate after the February 13, 2018 Council meeting. The City of Maplewood later communicated preference for the northern route and provided a list of topics and concerns to explore, many of which were outside the scope and timeline of the original greenway project as described in the federal grant.
With these new topics for discussion, we determined the project was not ready to move forward as originally planned, so we declined the $1.6 million from East West Gateway Council of Governments to release this project from those deadlines.
While we declined the grant, we offered the City of Maplewood the opportunity to move forward in the future on a collaborative planning process to develop a new scope for the project along the greenway segment in Maplewood. The City of Maplewood agreed to move forward and collaborate with us and the City of St. Louis on a feasibility study of the previously established northern route option. Together, we are exploring what’s feasible, what funding mechanisms are available, what is within the scope of a greenway project and what is a municipal issue for the City of Maplewood to address. It’s important to note that while we declined the original grant, this does not eliminate the possibility of applying for future grants for this project.
Project partners, engineers, consultants and the community engagement team are meeting monthly to advance the study. The engineers and other consultants are wrapping up their safety evaluation of three intersections and developing design solutions that consider the needs of all users–people walking, riding bikes or driving a car. Project partners hosted an Open House and Community Meeting on Wednesday November 14, 2018 at the Maplewood Fire house to share the potential intersection options.
From that 11.14.18 meeting:
At the November 2018 Open House, the community was asked to share feedback about each of the potential intersection options along the proposed greenway extension. Project partners captured this input and prepared a presentation (link below) detailing the community’s preferred option for each intersection along with cost estimates for each option. On Thursday January 24, 2019, project partners hosted an Open House and Community Meeting at the Maplewood Fire House to share the community feedback.
From the 1.24.2019 meeting:
The community’s feedback about each of the intersection options will be utilized as we take the next steps in the development of this portion of the greenway. Planning and study efforts will include further analysis of the overall project including assessment of utilities, property ownership and environmental conditions. As always, we will keep you informed as this project evolves and we appreciate your continued input! Questions welcome anytime. Hope to see you out on the greenways or at a program or event soon.