South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Green Park Road project ‘will bankrupt the city,’ letter writer contends

Reveille! Call reporter Burke Wasson has once again bugled a wake-up call to the hard-working, taxpaying citizens of the city of Green Park — “Green Park board OKs additional funds for road design.” The Green Park Road reconstruction project is a looming financial debacle that has been lurking in the smoke-filled back room of Green Park politics for years. If the project proceeds, Green Park citizens will pay many millions of dollars over the original cost projection.

The Weis Design Group came up with the road reconstruction plan about five years ago. At the behest of the Board of Aldermen, the folks at Weis cobbled a federal grant application, which was approved by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

The federal grant application put the total cost of road reconstruction at $2,400,000. The feds would contribute 80 percent — $1,920,000 — if the city would cough up 20 percent — $480,000.

Weis was awarded $200,000 for planning. Weis has quickly consumed most of their original allocation of $200,000 because of plan changes. The board’s September decision to give Weis $29,000 to plan a bike path brought Weis’ project fees to $201,914.

The current version of this financially insidious project has the city acquiring three residential properties on the North side of Green Park Road at Tesson Ferry. At a purchase price of $150,000 each — probably a low figure — the total cost of acquiring these properties would be $450,000. This amount plus the fees already paid to Weis will bring the cost of the project to $647,914, which exceeds by $167,914 the city’s original projected total expenditure of $480,000.

Yes, Green Park citizens, tax dollars are being squandered on a road project that will be over budget before construction starts.

Consider the original grant numbers, calculate the enormous increase in construction costs over the past five years, add the cost of property acquisition and expanding the project, then add the average amount of cost overruns on similar road projects. If you do the math, your calculations will clearly indicate that Green Park citizens are being mugged. The project will bankrupt the city.

So why do our elected officials support this monetary boondoggle? Age-old wisdom says, “Follow the money.”

Who benefits from the road project continuing? How do they benefit? Good questions, eh?

Also consider: Why have four of the seven city officials done an abrupt about-face on the project? In April of this year, the four were steadfastly opposed to the project; three of the four using their opposition to the project as an election issue. Why did they abruptly reverse their position?

The morning of Jan. 12, I hosted a citizens meeting at my home. The impetus for the hastily called get-together was opposition to the road project. Noteworthy guests included Alderman Judy Betlach, mayoral candidate Tony Konopka, aldermanic candidate Tim Thuston and Elliott Davis of KTVI. Aldermanic candidate Tony Pousosa said that he would have attended, but had to work. All attendees fervently opposed the mayor’s proposed road project.

The April 3 election saw the mayor and two sitting aldermen defeated, replaced by citizens who had publicly expressed strong opposition to the Green Park Road project. The road-reconstruction opponents would hold the majority when the new mayor and aldermen were seated. Citizens thought the road fight was over.

The newly elected officials were installed April 16. When mention of the road project arose, the newly elected mayor commented that he thought the project was a good thing. Aldermen nodded their approval. The project continues unabated, openly supported by those who only months prior adamantly opposed it.

What changed?

Whatever the change, it occurred be-tween April 4 and April 16. In the 12 days between the election and their taking office, three newly elected officials changed their minds. One sitting alderman changed hers as well — one day vehemently opposed to the project, the next day not. The circus has returned to Clown City.

Michael K. Broughton

Green Park

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