Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Home Depot Issue Fuels Divisive Mayoral Contest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Home Depot Issue Fuels Divisive Mayoral Contest

Article excerpt

The City Council's recent approval of a new Home Depot on the north side of Ferguson has been one of the most divisive, controversial issues in this year's election for mayor.

For months, a group of Ferguson, Calverton Park and Florissant residents in nearby neighborhoods have fought the plan for the store, planned for near the southeast corner of Elizabeth Avenue and Pershall Road. The group is gathering signatures on petitions to force a public referendum. Some Ferguson residents are seeking to become part of Florissant because the Ferguson council approved the store last week.

Of the three candidates running for council member-at-large, the equivalent of mayor, newcomer Steven Wegert opposes the development. The other candidates, council members William Pike and Greg Faupel, voted to approve the store.

"That's what happens when no one watches out for the interests of the city," Wegert said. "I support (a Home Depot) in the community - but not in that location. We should try to pump money into areas that need it, rather than chewing up an area that has been residential for a long time."

Both Faupel and Pike defended their votes.

"A lot of people came up with problems with the development, and I think the developer addressed those problems," Faupel said. "I think it's a sound company and a plus for our city. Unfortunately, they couldn't work a deal out in the central city or somewhere else. It is a blessing for some people in the area, and other people tend to be upset."

Pike has sharp criticism for Wegert's opposition to the development.

"I feel that it shows his lack of knowledge and lack of understanding about leading this city," Pike said. "I feel it is a privilege to be able to attract a Fortune 100 company to our town. We're talking about one group of residents that has been extremely vocal and influenced by residents in Calverton Park and Florissant. They do not have a realistic understanding of what the impact is going to be."

Pike added, "This issue is something that came up on election time, and frankly we kind of wish it wasn't there."

Beside Pike and Faupel, no other incumbents are running for a City Council seat in the election April 2. …

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