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

Tapawingo takeover under review once again

Attorney, trustees say the city, board is misinformed about Tapawingo streets
This aerial shot from Google Maps shows some of the streets of Tapawingo, around Tapawingo National Golf Club.

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen heard a petition earlier this month to accept private streets for city maintenance in the Manors of Tapawingo subdivision. 

The aldermen heard a proposal Oct. 12 from lawyers representing the Manors of Tapawingo, petitioning the city to take over Pagada Parkway, Caddyshack Circle and Marchem Circle for public maintenance. 

The petition calls for the city to assume control and maintenance of 1,003 street slabs in the neighborhood. 

Tapawingo trustees have argued residents have been paying for roads that are essentially no longer private after Lindbergh Schools used land that could only be accessed through the subdivision. 

An ordinance adopted by the Board of Aldermen in early 2016 outlines the steps required for Sunset Hills to accept private streets for city maintenance and since then, Tapawingo representatives say they have attempted to comply with the ordinance. 

The current request by the Manors at Tapawingo for the city to accept their private streets for city maintenance dates back to August 2019. Bob Flynn, on behalf of the trustees, applied to the city requesting the city accept streets for maintenance. 

Under the 2016 ordinance, both the Public Works Committee and the Planning and Zoning Commission are required to make recommendations regarding a request to accept private streets for city maintenance. In July, both committees recommended denial of the takeover. 

Both committees recommended denial of the takeover because some of the slabs in the requested takeover showed signs of cracking. City Engineer Bryson Baker said slabs cost $2,000 to $3,000 to replace. 

“When we were in front of the Public Works Committee and Planning and Zoning … it was clear to us that there was some misinformation and a misunderstanding about some of the issues that pertain to the Tapawingo roads,” said Lathrop Gage Attorney Colleen Ruiz, who is representing some of the Tapawingo property owners, at the Oct. 12 board meeting. “The city fails to take into account when projects need to occur. … There’s not even a requirement that the city spend any money on the Tapawingo streets in any year. … It also does not take into account that the applicant has offered to put the streets in close to new condition.” 

 At the planning meeting in July, Ruiz said that Tapawingo would pay for the repairs to 63 slabs deemed unsatisfactory by the city. 

 “The current condition of the manor’s streets have been well taken care of in the past. … They’ve had some of their slabs replaced. They take good care of their roads,” Ruiz said. 

 Trustee Doug Neier said that when he first moved into Tapawingo, he had no expectation that the city would take over its streets until Alwal “Al” and Betty Moore purchased the historic Paraclete Fathers property in Tapawingo to turn into a cultural center and library. 

 “That understanding of private streets changed for me in 2012 when the city … decided to immerse itself directly into the private functioning of our community. … The property sits directly in the heart of our private community. … After intense opposition by all our residents, the Board of Aldermen rejected Al Moore’s proposal but … in 2013, Al Moore initiated a second proposal,” said Neier. “He donated the … property to Lindbergh Schools via a generous lease offer. The city’s attorney found a loophole in the process whereby it was not necessary to seek public input or approval. The city approved a 50-year lease between Al Moore and the Lindbergh Schools without any consideration from the residents of Tapawingo.” 

 The property is the former estate of “Papa” Joe Gresedieck and served as the home to the Paraclete Fathers. The property is made up of 10 buildings and is in the heart of the Tapawingo Subdivison. 

 Recently, the school district said that it no longer had a use for the property and did not continue with the lease. Al Moore offered to donate the property to the city after Lindbergh broke the lease, but the Board of Aldermen declined the donation in February. 

 “The city of Sunset Hills is responsible for disrupting our private community by allowing the public school system to be injected into the heart of our community,” Neier said. “The city has also been shown to exhibit a different set of standards and indifference to discrimination in dealing with private streets.” 

 Following the proposal’s first reading, the Board of Aldermen directed city staff to draft a memorandum in response to the Tapawingo attorney’s and trustees’ findings to be discussed at an upcoming meeting. 

“There is a lot of submissions from the applicant and I think they’ve been very detailed and very thorough. … I feel like we have one side of the story, we don’t exactly have the other,” Ward 2 Alderman Casey Wong said. “I’d make a request … so that we can hear the city’s side.” 

“This has just become a circular process,” replied Ruiz. “The ordinance itself doesn’t give much clarity … in terms of how to proceed.” 

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