Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

County Parks' Future Should Be in Residents' Hands

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

County Parks' Future Should Be in Residents' Hands

Article excerpt

The debate over a proposed ice sports complex in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park last year provided the latest example of the public's desire to be heard when major projects that alter the intended use of St. Louis County park lands are being considered.

Over the past several decades, county residents have had the opportunity to speak out in the form of a vote over bond issues for proposed ice rinks, golf courses and outdoor sports fields before being built in county parks. But with the growing influence of developers and government officials in recent years proposing big changes in county parks with their "free" land, such votes have given way to political game-playing that takes the future of the county's parks out of the hands of its residents.

Proposition 2 on the Nov. 6 ballot in St. Louis County would give the public the opportunity to vote on any "sale, lease, disposal, gift, structure or commercial use not customarily associated with a park's use." It does not ban all development, nor does it require any type of tax or fee increase. On the contrary, people are encouraged to continue bringing their creative ideas about our parks forward for public consideration as they have since the county parks system was established in the 1960s.

Back then, generous and civic-minded families began donating their beautiful properties to the county for preservation and public enjoyment. The county then purchased additional park land and grew the system into the 71 parks we all enjoy today.

Today we are seeing county parks being used for cellphone tower sites, storage areas for other county departments and some commercial uses not intended by the original donors. And as we saw at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park last year, the public often finds out when the bulldozers show up.

Five of the leading environmental organizations in our region have recently joined forces behind the Yes For Our Parks! …

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