Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Call to Action

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Call to Action

Article excerpt

One doesn't have to know the area intimately to realize that St. Louis has very serious economic and social problems. To that extent, then, the findings of the Peirce Report reveal little that is new to area residents. Less obvious, however, is how closely the well-being of the entire metropolitan is linked to its core city. The Peirce Report explains why that is so. But the most eye-opening thing about the Peirce Report is its finding that the St. Louis region is more troubled than any in the country that its authors have studied.

As explained elsewhere in today's paper, the Peirce Report was prepared by Neal Peirce and Curtis Johnson, urban affairs journalists and community-building specialists. At the invitation of the Post-Dispatch, the Regional Commerce & Growth Association and the William T. Kemper Foundation, they spent six months here analyzing the region and interviewing more than 150 people. They have conducted similar studies in 13 other urban regions and, sad to say, they concluded that none of them was as "burdened with as many ominous long-term trends as the St. Louis region faces." The dreary litany is a familiar one:

* The city is a population sieve, but it is not alone. More people are moving out of the region than are moving in. After excluding births and deaths, the region lost 29,000 people in the first half of this decade, 95,000 in the '80s. At the same time, though, sprawl is creating an ever-expanding region with a low population density, requiring new roads, s ewers, schools and utilities while existing infrastructure stands underused. * The income disparity between blacks and whites is greater here than in most places, setting the stage for a range of social ills. * There are days when a person could fire a cannon on a downtown street and not hit anyone. Buildings are boarded up, others have been demolished to make way for parking lots. None of this means, though, that St. Louisans need to turn out the lights and take the nearest interstate out of town. …

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