By Emily Klein
The city of Green Park could annex nearby areas of unincorporated St. Louis County if those neighbors across Lindbergh Boulevard sign on to a city proposal.
Fred Hoehn, a citizen of Green Park, is very familiar with the incorporation process since he led the effort to found the city in 1995. Hoehn attended a special workshop of the Board of Aldermen June 14 to give advice to the board on taking the first steps toward expansion. Cities are allowed to send annexation proposals to the county Boundary Commission once every five years, and aldermen agreed it’s a good idea to send the proposal in to not miss the deadline.
Under the plan, the city could expand to a part of Concord in ZIP code 63128. The area designated for expansion is bordered by Interstates 55 and 270, Tesson Ferry Road and Lindbergh Boulevard. Green Park is a small and financially viable city, and provides many services to citizens that the county can’t, city officials said. Expanding the population base would generate more revenue, staff and services.
City Administrator James Mello said that it would be best to get the proposal out of the way, and while the county and state processes the request, the board can focus on gaining support from the city. Sending in a proposal doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone, however, and if the general public isn’t comfortable with the idea of annexation, the board won’t go through with it.
“If we don’t do it now then we have to sit out for another five years,” Mello said. “If six months from now we find out that most of the people over there are so opposed to it that it doesn’t work out and our residents don’t want it, then we can abandon it with little input.”
The board has discussed the possibility of annexation for five meetings and invited the general public to voice their concerns. Mello said the members of the public that came forward in those five meetings weren’t opposed to annexation. While there hasn’t been anyone opposed to it yet, Hoehn said that when he first formed Green Park, many people were not happy.
“You have to be prepared to meet things, smile, and go forward and state the facts and benefits clearly and concisely to the people you’re working with. And that’s not an easy job,” Hoehn said.
If part of Concord merges with Green Park, not only will the residents get amenities like free trash and recycling, but they’ll also make their own decisions as a local government instead of the County Council. Green Park City Attorney Paul Rost said that in order for annexation to work, there needs to be immense support from the citizens in the unincorporated land.
“The county is going to be against this without a doubt, and they will throw every roadblock they have at us,” Rost said. “And unless there’s a grassroots uprising on that side of Lindbergh, Green Park isn’t going to carry this themselves.”
Mello said that after sending in the proposal on July 1, they will have 18 months to collaborate with a firm and do more extensive studies. The board will look into taxes, revenue, road conditions and much more. The board will put together an official proposal and review it before sending it out.
“Nothing stands still,” Hoehn said. “This is the moment in Green Park’s history that should not be passed.”