Parkland Under Pressure

Should 40 acres of public parkland be developed?

Large Development Planned in Creve Coeur Lake Park

Last week, we shared an advocacy alert about the loss of 40 acres of Creve Coeur Lake Park.  Since then, St. Louis County Parks and Recreation’s Director has shared new information about the ice hockey facility.  We have updated our information to reflect these changes and encourage you to read on.

What is going on?

St. Louis County Government is considering significantly developing 40 acres of public parkland to become an ice hockey training and practice facility, which would be owned by St. Louis County Parks and leased for 30 years to Legacy Ice Foundation.  The land is wholly located in St. Louis County Park’s Creve Coeur Lake Park.

What will the 40 acres be used for?

The St. Louis Ice Center would include four sheets of ice to host youth and collegiate hockey as well as St. Louis Blues practice sessions and would be available for use by the public for an entrance fee.  The proposed St. Louis Ice Center would be built on land just south of Highway 141 in Creve Coeur Lake Park.  St. Louis County would continue to own the land and Legacy Ice Foundation would lease the property for 30 years.  The lease is not expected to generate revenue for St. Louis County Parks.

Why are we concerned?

  1. The project dramatically changes the existing open space and the park will see significant development
  2. As the facility ages, it will likely be too expensive for taxpayers to convert back to open space
  3. Loss of open space means disappearance of tree canopy, wildlife, space for storm water runoff, and beneficial natural floodplain.
  4. 90% of the land used for this development was secured through Land and Water Conservation Funds, which mandate future use of the land for outdoor recreation

To read more about these concerns, please click here.  Click here to RSVP for the public hearing on our Facebook event.

What can I do?

Call your Councilperson today and attend the public meeting on January 25th at 6pm!

This loss of parkland is detrimental to the St. Louis County Park system as a whole.  Once parkland is developed, we cannot regain use of it and it sets a dangerous precedent for the future of all parks.  We must send a clear message NOW that public parkland is valuable to current and future residents.

You can also reach out to your St. Louis County Councilperson to let them know that you don’t want parkland to be developed in this way.  Find your district here.

Hazel Erby, District 1, (314) 615-5436, HErby@stlouisco.com

Dr. Sam Page, District 2, (314) 615-5437, SPage@stlouisco.com

Colleen Wassinger, District 3, (314) 615-5438, CWasinger@stlouisco.com

Rochelle Walton Gray, District 4, (314) 615-5439, RGray@stlouisco.com

Pat Dolan, District 5,  (314) 615-5441, PDolan@stlouisco.com

Ernie Trakas, District 6, (314) 615-5442, ETrakas@stlouisco.com

Mark Harder, District 7, (314) 615-5443, MHarder@stlouisco.com

When is the meeting?

The St. Louis County Department of Planning is holding an informational public hearing at 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 in the County Council Chambers located at 41 S. Central Avenue, Clayton, Mo. 63105.  Residents will be given an opportunity to hear preliminary information about a future ice hockey training and practice facility at 13777 and 13750 Marine Avenue in the Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.  Comment cards will be available at this meeting and you will have an opportunity to ask questions.

 

Why are we concerned? (cont.)

100% of this project is located within Creve Coeur Lake Park.  The site is currently open space, but if the Ice Center is built, the land use would significantly change from an existing open space to a very large development including nearly 1,500 parking spaces, 4 ice rinks, stadium seating, and locker rooms.

While leases to private groups for golf courses and soccer fields are not uncommon in public open spaces, a complex of this magnitude is significantly different due to its permanence and size.  Soccer fields and golf courses can be changed back to parkland, but removing significant amounts of asphalt and buildings present immense challenges for converting back to open space.

What happens to the property in another 40 years when the sheets of ice are in poor shape and it can no longer be used?  We don’t know.  But what we do know is that the property will be too expensive for taxpayers to convert it back to open space at that time.

This land is valuable as open space; because of this, we don’t believe in developing it so drastically. Creve Coeur Lake Park’s annual attendance exceeds over 1 million people, making it the most heavily visited St. Louis County Park.  The open space provides outdoor recreational opportunities for local residents, is home to a variety of wildlife, provides habitat for trees that filter air pollution, provides space & filtration for storm water runoff, provides aesthetic beauty, acts as a natural floodplain and much more.

We believe there are other locations for this project in the region and they should be explored. Private development on public lands and in floodplains deprive citizens and taxpayers of ecosystem services that cannot be found elsewhere. The services provided by these developments, however, do not require the use of vital floodplains or publicly funded green space that has been set aside for outdoor recreation.

Another concern that we have is that ~90% of the project is located on 6-F land, which means that National Park Service (NPS) Land and Water Conservation Funds (LWCF) were used to acquire this parkland.  The LWCF State Assistance Program was established to stimulate a nationwide action program to assist in preserving, developing, and assuring to all citizens of the United States of present and future generations such quality and quantity of outdoor recreation resources as may be available and are necessary and desirable for individual active participation. The program provides matching grants to States and through States to local units of government, for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation sites and facilities.  According to the NPS website, “SEC. 6(f)(3) No property acquired or developed with assistance under this section shall, without the approval of the Secretary, be converted to other than public outdoor recreation uses. The Secretary shall approve such conversion only if he finds it to be in accord with the then existing comprehensive statewide outdoor recreation plan and only upon such conditions as he deems necessary to assure the substitution of other recreation properties of at least equal fair market value and of reasonably equivalent usefulness and location.”

In order for this project to move forward, the changes in use must be approved by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) who has requested an Environmental Assessment be conducted.  The upcoming public hearing is a part of this Environmental Assessment process and this is an important opportunity for citizens to make their voices heard.

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An approximate location of the proposed facility is marked with a “ ” on the map at right.