Mehlville, Lindbergh projects added to county’s recovery plan

Stimulus projects also requested in Crestwood

By BURKE WASSON

County officials have added 64 projects, including numerous requests in south county, to the county’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan that seeks funding from President Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus plan.

Officials have requested $2.7 billion in stimulus funds for 209 projects within St. Louis County that would create an estimated 75,320 jobs.

South county projects now included in St. Louis County’s request include:

• $42.5 million to the Mehlville School District for the first phase of improvements identified through the district’s public-engagement program COMPASS — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools.

• $40 million for infrastructure improvements to the South County Center mall.

• $31 million to the Lindbergh School District for facilities projects as part of Proposition R 2008 — a $31 million bond issue approved in November by district voters.

• $30 million for Lemay redevelopment at Interstate 55 and Weber Road.

• $22 million for replacement of the Kennedy Recreation Complex.

• $19 million to the Canary Island Riverside Greenway adjacent to Jefferson Barracks Park.

• $16.3 million to the South County Government Center.

• $7.6 million for enhancements to the Lemay Community Center.

• $6.95 million to the Gravois Road/Meramec River bridge replacement in Fenton.

• $4 million to the Crestwood Court mall redevelopment.

• $2.9 million to the Lemay Child and Family Center.

• $1.5 million for the historic renovation of Bee Tree Park in Oakville.

• $1.1 million for street mill and overlay in Crestwood.

• $1 million for building-maintenance improvements in Crestwood.

• $800,000 to Lemay Housing.

• $750,000 for landscape improvements at Interstate 255 and Telegraph Road.

• $350,000 for a Fournier Drive box culvert in Crestwood.

• $200,000 for improvements to Rayburn Park in Crestwood.

While not expecting these federal stimulus funds to be approved, Lindbergh Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane believes the school district has a fiduciary duty to at least seek available funding.

“You’d be irresponsible not to apply so the citizens can get some of their money back,” Lanane said. “But you’d be foolish to count on it.”

Mehlville School District Superintendent Terry Noble said his district has applied for federal stimulus funds through St. Louis County, U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, and Gov. Jay Nixon’s newly created Web site — transform.mo.gov.

“We’re just trying to cover all angles,” he said. “We were encouraged to do it in those three manners and that’s what we’ve done. I’m glad to hear that it is a part of the county’s proposal. That is encouraging, and we do appreciate our county officials including our proposal in their submission.”

“We know all those aren’t going to be approved. But those are shovel-ready projects, and that’s what we were asked to submit.”

While the Crestwood Court mall redevelopment project could receive as much as $4 million in federal stimulus funds, the city of Crestwood could see up to $2.65 million in stimulus money to be dispersed among street work, building maintenance, a Fournier Drive box culvert and Rayburn Park enhancements.

Those federal stimulus funds could provide assistance to the city as City Administrator Jim Eckrich has proposed an average annual expenditure reduction of $2.28 million from 2010 through 2013.

“For us to get this funding, it would be a great benefit to the city if we did,” Eckrich said.

As for Mehlville’s $42.5 million request, a number of facilities improvements recommended in the first phase of COMPASS would be accomplished. This would create 350 construction jobs and 21 permanent jobs.

Those projects include: HVAC upgrades, lighting upgrades, roof replacements, new bleachers, improved drainage, site lighting, handicapped accessibility, stop lights, signage, sinkhole remediation, asbestos remediation, security hardware, fire-alarm upgrades, playground equipment, second exits from sites, improved acoustics, building settlements, upgraded instructional technology, enhanced interior finishes and drinking fountains.

Mehlville’s desired outcome of its stimulus proposal states: “We will advance student achievement through improved facilities that are safer, healthier, more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

“Utilizing alternate energy sources, our buildings will become a model for others across the nation and help us to reach our nation’s goal of energy independence and a healthier environment. Also, savings from energy costs will free up operational funds to be put directly back into the classroom.”

Lindbergh’s $31 million request would carry out planned Prop R 2008 projects and create 200 construction jobs and 106 permanent jobs.

The district already had planned to split its overcrowded Sperreng Middle School enrollment into two schools by renovating Truman Elementary School into a middle school. Additions then will be made to Crestwood Elementary School and Long Elementary School while the Concord School Early Childhood Center will be converted into an elementary school.

The Lindbergh school board voted unanimously Feb. 19 to approve the schematic designs proposed for Crestwood, Long and Concord elementary schools and the construction of an Early Childhood Education facility adjacent to Lindbergh High School.

While district officials would be “thrilled” to receive federal stimulus funding, Lanane emphasized that Lindbergh officials are moving forward on plans to complete these projects and added that the district was set this week to sell $10 million of the district’s $31 million in Prop R 2008 bonds.

“We’re going to proceed as if we’re getting nothing,” Lanane said. “The climate’s pretty good right now to sell bonds. Things look like all our numbers still work, and so we’ll go ahead and do that. And then, what a happy problem to face should we get approved for $1,000 or $31 million. At this point, we’re just going with our original plan. It’s rock solid. It meets our budget. It answers or fulfills our no-tax-increase promise. And so we’re going to go ahead with that.

“If out of the blue we get money, then that’s one of those happy problems where we’ll get some heads together and see how to best proceed … If we’re talking millions, I think you pull together a committee and get some representatives from the community and decide how you want to proceed.”