November 22, 2011 – General Membership Meeting

There were two first-time attendees. One new visitor announced that he has purchased the Laundromat at Shenandoah and Nebraska and plans are underway to redevelop to an upscale laundry/dry-cleaners (not on site – just drop off service) including many amenities. There will be additional apartments in the building and possibly a hair salon. Both attendees were welcomed.

Featured Speaker: MARK PHILLIPS, Long Range Planner for Metro Speaker discussed Metro service changes and very recent developments. Last major changes we in 11/2010. Since then, only minor time adjustments. Bigger changes were slated for 11/28/2011 to adjust for efficiency of routes. They needed to make major changes due to finances. The changes discussed are to the bus lines 14 (Shaw-CWE-Hill), 80 , and 8(Bates-Morganford). There were many public comments about the changes.

BREAKING NEWS – President Obama just signed bill which continues some funding that was set to expire (through east-west gateway council). Because of this, Metro is not in as dire financial situation as previously thought. Unfortunately, news came too late so the changes will still take place on Monday, November 28 (refer to Metro site for details). They have all these union contract requirements that mean they can’t revert back suddenly when drivers expected something else to happen on Monday. So, the changes WILL be repealed at some point in January. 8 can then go back to its current route, 80 will still go to CWE. January is the soonest they can revert back. Note that Russell will have shuttle service during rush hours. Please forgive the minute-taker; this section was hard to follow.

Grand Blvd. Bridge and Metrolink Station.   New bridge will have much-needed bus pull-outs, wider sidewalks, sheltered canopies with seating and comfort, new elevators and staircases to the station (fixing visibility and safety concerns). Below the bridge will be a fancy, artistically-inspired transit plaxa. Cool installation lighting. Give a sense of atmosphere, arrival in a place. There will be landscaping, mosaic tiles. A new enlarged park and ride lot. Expected completion for bridge and metro (they will open at same time) is summer 2012, but could be as early as March. “It’s a city project” so they don’t really have control of the time line at Metro.

 Rapid Bus Transit is an interesting new development that could benefit our region if we can get it. They have a proposal for 4 highway lines and one urban corridor, and S.Grand is the urban corridor of choice at present, although it could end up being Kingshighway or something else. However, idea is to try to get funding for these lines to provide better commute options in and out of the city, and provide means for city residents to commute to county job hubs. This idea recognizes that in STL, there is significant job growth outside the city and city residents need jobs, too. They are in the very early stages of this. Because it is federal, they need a fleshed-out technical plan, environmental assessments, etc.

Articulated Buses  – the elongated ones with the accordion-type centers. These could help ease congestion on some routes and reduce the time people have to wait when the first bus that passes is full. If obtained, these could be on South Grand.

One resident asked about environmental impact and ideas for north-south MetroLink corridors. Some ideas – none in near-term planning stages – were discussed. Natural gas buses – they have been buying them but they have to realistically assess maintenance costs – higher than for regular fleet. METRO is NUMBER ONE IN THE WORLD for bus maintenance. WHO KNEW?

Announcements from Police 3d District – no officers present.

Christmas Party – flyer –was mistakenly not presented. Information is: 3d District Christmas Party, 12/8 – lunch at noon and dinner at 6, for officers. Neighbor help is needed, contact Mike Howard at 664-1008. They need cheese cracker appetizer trays, soda, beer, water, cookies, cakes, utensils, plates, cups, napkins, MONEY, servers, door greeters, small attendance prizes, and help with set-up and clean up. Volunteer for one, some, or all of the above!

Announcements from elected officials.

  • Ald. Kacie Starr-Triplett – 6th – NSO – Felicia Henderson – Problem Properties – Jerome Murray announced Foodland Site Redevelopment is in planning stages. Keep eyes out for news. Also, reminder to call 622-4800 if you see any street lights out. Call Ameren if any alley lights are out. Lighting helps with safety. Be on the lookout, be aware, call 911 if anything suspicious.
  • Ald. Steve Conway – 8th – NSO – Michelle Boston-David – present if anyone needs to report anything to her.
  • Ald. Jennifer Florida – 15th – NSO – Judy Lane
  • Cong. Russ Carnahan – representative from his office announced women’s small business forum at UMSL. Details sent over TGE email list.

Brief Announcements

  • Historic Tax Credit Survey – 12/10/11, Sign up on sign up sheet being passed around. Name, email, phone number. Need 20 volunteers.
  • Winter Party Committee – most likely in January but planning is starting now. Contact Lorraine Fedio, social chair if you can help her out.
  • Neighborhood ownership model:  Chief Isom is really behind this. Involves multi-pronged approach to fighting crime: court watch, victim outreach, citizen patrols. In exchange, we get a dedicated officer/patrolman assigned to our neighborhood.  Right now, just need an “exploratory committee” to look into it and find out what it would take to get this rolling, assess our capacity as a group for carrying it out. Not sure if we have the man/woman power to do it.  Sonia Wagner had organized the Citizen’s Patrol for our neighborhood last year, but there is more to it – need special training by law enforcement and we would need to find a place to set up a substation/DSL link for confidential communications/reports to police.
  • Not a huge time commitment, we are not reinventing the wheel, and a lot of support from the police and prosecutors on this.  If you are interested in being in a group that explores whether this is feasible, please sign up. If you are interested in chairing/spearheading this effort, please contact Norah Ryan – our safety committee chair.

Other (official) ways to keep in touch:

  • www.towergroveeast.org
  • ListServ: listserv@towergroveeast.org
  • Facebook page – but note that this is not an official mechanism for contact, just a way to chat with other residents

No meeting in December.