County library board seeks rezoning for new site of Tesson Ferry branch

Developer seeking rezoning next to potential library site

By Gloria Lloyd

The St. Louis County Library Board of Trustees is looking to move its Tesson Ferry Branch Library from Green Park to Affton, across from Grant’s Farm.

Library officials submitted documents to the county Planning Commission seeking to rezone a 4.29-acre site at the southeast corner of Gravois and Musick roads to an R-6A 4,500-square-foot Residence District from a MXD Mixed-Use Development District to construct a new library. The property formerly belonged to the Busch family and served as a breeding area for Clydesdales.

A public hearing on the library board’s request is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, in the County Council Chambers at the Administration Building, 41 S. Central Ave., Clayton.

The site is an attractive one and is one of many the library is looking at for the relocated library, said St. Louis County Library Communications Director Jennifer McBride.

“We do like this site, but again we’re kind of subject to the various zoning and testing requirements — and also our board has to ultimately approve it,” she said. “There are a lot of issues and contingencies involved that need to be cleared for environmental issues, traffic and the proper zoning.”

If the site receives zoning and library board approval as the new location, it would replace the current Tesson Ferry Branch Library, about two miles away at 9920 Lin Ferry Drive in Green Park.

“It’s near Grant’s Trail and it’s near Gravois, so it’s very accessible,” McBride said. “I think it would be very convenient for most people.”

Voters approved a 6-cent tax-rate increase, Proposition L, to fund construction, renovation and upgrades to library facilities last fall. With the approval of the measure, the library’s tax rate increased to 22.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from 16.3 cents.

The library’s facilities master plan recommends the 55-year-old existing Tesson Ferry Library be replaced with a new building “on a new site.” The plan estimates the cost of a new building at $20 million, including land.

The potential library site, at the southeast corner of Musick and Gravois roads, is owned by McBride Berra LLC, which bought the former Busch property last year and also has a proposed subdivision on adjoining property up for rezoning at the same Aug.19 public hearing.

McBride Berra, which is comprised of the developer and builder of the proposed Arbors at Clydesdale Park subdivision in Green Park — J.H. Berra and McBride and Sons — is developing the adjoining property for the luxury Grant’s View subdivision.

At the time that McBride Berra purchased the property last year, McBride Chairman John F. Eilermann Jr. stated in a news release, “This is one of the most coveted and beautiful pieces of ground in St. Louis County.”

County records show that McBride Berra bought the property last year for $6.25 million.

The library rezoning hearing comes just as the Green Park Board of Aldermen turned its attention to encouraging the library to stay in Green Park.

At the July 30 work session of the Green Park Board of Aldermen about the proposed Arbors at Clydesdale Park subdivision, Ward 1 Alderman Tony Pousosa raised the subject of the library, mentioning the Jim Butler auto dealership across from Aldi as a potential new library site.

“If there’s something that could be worked out for keeping the library in Green Park, I want to make that happen,” Pousosa told the Call the night of the work session. “We definitely want it here.”

Green Park Mayor Bob Reinagel told the Call, “We were looking around Green Park for places we could offer them, and we really don’t have any place — that’s the sad part.”

He had planned to meet with library officials soon and see if the old Casa Gallardo site or the Jim Butler site could work for the new library location.

Green Park resident Fred Hoehn, who led the effort to incorporate the city and served as a Ward 2 Alderman from 1998 to 2000, appeared before the library board this summer to ask that the library stay in Green Park.

At the library board’s May meeting, Hoehn said, “Consider Clydesdale Park. It meets all your stated parameters. It would save money, help St. Louis (County’s) park budget. It would keep something of cultural value in the immediate area. We have very little of cultural value in the city of Green Park or the surrounding area.

“Your library meets this need.”

McBride Berra is seeking a change in zoning to an R-6A 4,500-square-foot Residence District and an FPR-6A Flood-Plan 4,500-square Residence District from a MXD Mixed-Use Development District and an FPMXD Flood-Plain Mixed-Use Development District on 10.2 acres adjacent to the potential library site.

The developer, represented by attorney John King, is proposing single-family residences.

McBride Berra also is requesting a Planned Environment Unit for the site on the south side of Gravois, roughly 250 feet east of Musick Road.