Green Park officials to request schedule change for road project

Board president favors Lin Valle-Lindbergh connection not now, but in future

By BURKE WASSON

Green Park officials now will have a little more than a year to determine final plans for the much-discussed Green Park Road redevelopment.

Mayor Tony Konopka said last week that city officials plan to request a one-time schedule change for the project, which originally was slated to have final plans considered by September.

Being that it would be the only schedule change the city would request, a federal grant for the road project would not be jeopardized. The grant will cover 80 percent of the project’s original $2.4 million cost.

But the project now will be more costly than anticipated. This is due to factors like the city’s recent intentions to construct an 8-foot-wide 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.

City officials also are studying options to purchase property on the north side of Green Park Road to accommodate the road’s planned 2-foot widening in each lane and the pedestrian pathway.

City officials are working 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 also must convince federal agencies that the park property is necessary to make improvements along Green Park Road.

With all of these factors and more to consider, Konopka said city officials will not know many of those additional costs until final plans are approved in roughly a year.

“As far as costs, some people are really bent out of shape about the costs,” he said. “But we won’t know the true cost until we actually put it out for bid. And when you put it out for bid, you get an idea what the true cost is. And when you get an idea of the true cost, you can either say yea or nay.”

As proposed, Green Park Road will be redeveloped along a 6,000-foot stretch from Tesson Ferry Road to Lin Valle Drive.

Green Park Road will benefit from two extra feet of lanes on each side to make 12-foot lanes, 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.

Substantial grade changes also will 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 of the project still undecided, the second phase likely will not begin until 2010 at the earliest.

After the second phase of improvements have been made to Green Park Road, board President Anthony Pousosa of Ward 1 said he would like the board to reconsider a plan rejected by aldermen in May to connect Lin Valle Drive to Lindbergh Boulevard. While he believes that aldermen did the right thing in May by not pursuing the Lin Valle Drive connection because it would be “too much, too soon,” Pousosa said that in the bigger picture, he realizes the roads should be connected.

“Being financially responsible, I think (rejecting the Lin Valle connection) was the right thing to do at this time until we know more about Green Park Road and the Gravois Creek bridge, which will be probably a couple of years after this gets finished, depending on how long of an extension we use,” he said. “We’re already going into 2008, possibly 2009. So you’re looking at maybe 2010 or 2011 for phase two.

“And I would think that by spacing them out that, in the long term if you’re thinking ahead maybe 10 years in the future, by that time you may have a (Green Park) Commerce Center that’s completely filled. And then you can create a business corridor and you can do it in a financially responsible way and not overburden the city by trying to do everything at once.”

While he continues to hear some skepticism about the road’s design and plans, Konopka said that the Board of Aldermen’s decision to recommend replacing a sidewalk on the road’s more residential north side with the pathway on the south side has “thrilled” some residents.

“I’ve had people say it’s no good unless it’s three lanes,” Konopka said. “I’ve had phone calls that said it’s not good unless it’s four lanes. And then I have people call and say we should throw the whole thing out. And, of course, I also have people who had their house up for sale … when they were thinking about the sidewalk being on the residents’ side. And after they’ve seen the plans for the path going on the park side, their for-sale signs went down and they’re thrilled about this happening. They think it’s going to be just a plus as far as their property values.”

Moving the pathway to the road’s north side will, however, affect three houses on that same side of Green Park Road.

Mike Schillito of the Weis Design Group has said while that remains an option, he anticipates the city might have trouble acquiring property from those three homeowners as well as from St. Louis County for land at Clydesdale Park, which is also on the north side.

Konopka said while the county currently opposes the pathway being built on park land, representatives from the Missouri Department of Transportation and the EastWest Gateway Council of Governments believe it is feasible. Also, the city recently received a $4,000 grant to assist in the planning phase of the pathway.

But when the day comes for aldermen to consider the final plans for Green Park Road, Pousosa said while he and the board have supported further study, approval of those final plans — and of the project’s total cost — is anything but certain.

“The one thing to keep in mind is that once this is put out to bid, the board as a whole will have a chance to either vote yea or nay as to moving forward,” he said. “So there’s still some safety zones in there. I know a lot of people have concerns about the unknown costs or the unknown increase in costs due to inflation and things of that nature. But I think the board as a whole will have the final say if we move forward with certain portions of the project depending on cost. If it’s going to put a financial burden on the city, then we’ll have to look at how we’re approaching it and see if we can go about it a different way or make changes that would still make it financially feasible to do in a responsible way …

“I don’t think a lot people realize that it’s not just going to steamroll straight through and then when they say it costs whatever it costs that all of a sudden we’re like ‘Oh my gosh’ and we’re looking at each other shrugging our shoulders. We’re going to have an opportunity to have a final say on it. And I think that the residents should have some comfort in that. There’s still time to get the word out to come to the board meetings. If you have an opinion, call City Hall and call your alderman … In the long run, I think it will be something that down the road will definitely benefit the city of Green Park.”