Hamlet Battles `Research' Park Weldon Spring Heights Says University of Missouri Misled Residents

Article excerpt

The 80 people living in Weldon Spring Heights believe, quite simply, that they've been had.

The hamlet of 36 houses is on the western side of the Missouri Research Park. Residents say they are doing all they can to tolerate their neighbor. Love may never enter the picture, despite the praise others have heaped on the park.

"We're disturbed by what they're doing over there," said Allan Wansing, the chairman of the community's trustees. "They're not doing the things they originally told us they were going to do."

Specifically, the residents charge that the research park is nothing more than another industrial park.

One of the Heights' former trustees, Robert Masek, said many companies do research but that that doesn't mean they are research companies. "I worked for McDonnell Douglas for 30 years," said Masek. "We did research over there, too, but our main business was manufacturing fighters."

Some of the residents are also upset about the construction of a $6.5 million golf course at the park. This hardly qualifies as research or even light industry, Masek said.

Weldon Spring Heights is in St. Charles County, just south of Highway 40-61 and west of the Missouri River.

Rick Finholt, executive director of the research park, said all of the eight companies in the park are required to do research related to the University of Missouri, owner of the park. The private golf course is being built on land that could not be developed for any other commercial use, he said.

Finholt acknowledges that most of the buildings are larger than typical research laboratories. But he said the companies must be able to build and test products they are researching and developing.

Finholt readily acknowledges another common criticism: that the companies in the park escape paying property taxes because they are on university-controlled land. …