Green Park officials see light at end of tunnel for Green Park Road project

Mayor expresses concerns over project’s final price tag

By BURKE WASSON

After years of planning, the city of Green Park’s project to redevelop Green Park Road is “starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel,” according to city officials.

The Board of Aldermen is expected to vote by September on a final design plan to be put out for bid. Additionally, aldermen voted 5-0 last week to approve a contract with Payken Consulting to assist the city in acquiring Green Park Road properties that are needed to complete the road project. Ward 2 Alderman Tim Thuston was absent from the June 16 meeting.

Consultant Mark Payken’s contract is not to exceed $15,000 and he will be paid $95 per hour.

City Attorney Paul Rost said because of the federal funding tied to the project, the Missouri Department of Transportation requires the hiring of such a consultant.

“Now that we’ve gotten as of (June 16) the approval to talk to people about acquiring temporary licenses, right of way, whatever it is we need for the project … because of the federal funds that are involved, we have to have a negotiator to talk to people that is approved by MoDOT,” Rost said. “We also have to have somebody who can keep logs of all of the discussions and negotiations and follow a very thick manual of how to acquire right of way.

“So, Mr. Payken has submitted a proposal. We’ve worked with him before. He is approved by MoDOT. And hopefully, he can help us through those negotiations.”

Besides the city’s new contract with Payken, Rost told aldermen last week that the city will have to pay an additional $4,500 for an updated appraisal of the Green Park Road property to be redeveloped. The updated appraisal is required because of modifications that aldermen made last year to the design plans to move a trail from the road’s more residential south side to the north side next to Clydesdale Park.

Aldermen unanimously voted last September to amend the city’s contract with the Weis Design Group for additional design services and to apply for a grant to help pay for those extra design services.

The city already had received a $4,000 grant from the Municipal Park Grant Commission of St. Louis County to assist in the planning phase of a new pedestrian pathway along the road’s north side. Because of that decision, the city was last year billed for additional design services by the Weis Design Group in the amount of $29,000, which brought the city’s original budgeted payment of $200,000 to the engineering firm slightly above that benchmark to $201,914.

Green Park Road is to be redeveloped along a 6,000-foot stretch from Tesson Ferry Road to Lin Valle Drive, according to preliminary plans. The road will be widened with two extra feet of lanes on each side to make 12-foot lanes.

Green Park Road also will see the pedestrian pathway along the road’s north side, an additional right-turn lane at the road’s intersection with Tesson Ferry Road and a new left-turn lane at Antrill Drive.

Preliminary design plans also call for eliminating drop-offs and ditches from the road and replacing them with vertical curbs on each side. Because the curbing would replace ditches on each side of the road, a storm sewer would be installed across the road’s length.

Substantial grade changes will also be made at the road’s intersections with Kohrs Lane, Mueller Road and Lisa Marie Court to improve sight-line visibility and provide better curb alignment.

The second phase of Green Park Road’s reconstruction includes widening its bridge over Gravois Creek. With plans for the first phase still undecided, the second phase likely will not begin until 2010 at the earliest.

The Green Park Road redevelopment originally was a $2.4 million project with 80 percent of that cost being paid through a federal grant obtained through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

But the project now will be more costly than anticipated due to such factors as the city’s recent intentions to construct the pedestrian pathway along the road’s north side instead of a sidewalk down the more residential south side and also because of estimated increases in construction costs over time.

The city also is studying options to purchase property on the road’s north side to accommodate the road’s planned 2-foot widening in each lane and the pedestrian pathway.

City officials have worked with the county Department of Parks and Recreation to use park land alongside Green Park Road that is adjacent to Clydesdale Park.

Because federal funds helped to construct the park, the city must find and purchase property to trade to the park in exchange for the county-owned property needed for the pedestrian pathway. City officials must also convince federal agencies that the park property is necessary to make improvements along Green Park Road. Moving the pathway to the road’s north side also will affect three houses on that same side of Green Park Road. Payken’s services will be utilized in that regard.

With the costs of project materials increasing over time and an unstable economy, Mayor Tony Konopka said at a June 10 work session that he is concerned about the total project cost to redevelop Green Park Road.

“The way the economy’s been going, has anybody given any thought to that?” Konopka said. “We’re going into this and X amount of dollars has been spent on this project. How are we going to know what this is going to cost? With the cost of things now and the way this bubble is growing … I sure don’t want to see us get to a possible way to bankrupt the city.

“We are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, but we really won’t know the true cost until we get this started and put it out for bid. Then when we put it out for bid and we get some facts and some figures coming back in, then the board can sit down and say yes or no. We’ve already spent so much. But maybe we need to spend a little more.”

Rost cautioned that if aldermen were to deny plans to redevelop the road, that move would put the city at risk of securing federal grants in the future.

“This project ultimately needs to be done,” he said. “The thing about it is if we pull out, we’ll probably never get another grant again.”