'Great Streets' Gathering Addresses Cost, Stresses Unity
Representatives of Ballwin, Ellisville and various municipal and business interests of West County met Saturday to shape a 20+ year effort to reinvent area roads.
City and business representatives met at an open meeting Saturday to discuss the "Great Streets" initiative, pointing to state legislation as one of the next steps toward reinvigorating the roads of West County.
Roughly 50 people met at the Ballwin Golf Club in order to discuss the initiative, including representatives from Ballwin, Ellisville and various chamber groups and West County-area city council members.
The Great Streets Initiative, according to its official website, is intended to "trigger economic and social benefits by centering communities around interesting, lively and attractive streets," and making travel for friendly for pedestrians, bikers and other forms of alternate transportation.
Presently, the project is in its fourth phase, which includes developing a corridor plan for Manchester Road and developing construction outlines.
Maggie Hales of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments said that although detailed estimates aren't yet available, the total cost of the project could be between $20 and $50 million, she said.
"Keep in mind that this is going to be spaced out over 20 to 30 years," Hales said.
Although Town and Country is not officially part of the initiative, Mayor John Dalton also was in attendance.
To make the Manchester Road corridor a vibrant business and shopping district, Dalton said, several steps were outlined, including the creation of a unique taxing district – an move that Dalton said would require the help of state-level legislation.
Frank Karr of the Ballwin Planning and Zoning Commission is heading a committee on the initiative that consists of 45 business leaders and various stake holders, including the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Given the scope and timeline of the project, Karr said all parties must be completely committed to the initiative, which began in early 2006.
“We want to have everyone on board well in advance," Karr said. "Too often, for example, the plan is put together and [utility companies] are then told what to do. We want them to have a say in what is going to happen.”
The project is scheduled to take up to 30 years to complete, although preliminary steps for the 5-year-old project still have not been completed. This includes onboarding cities through a "Memorandum of Understanding," which has been signed by all participating cities except Manchester and Winchester.
The next step in the process is to push for the passage legislation that would help create a taxing district earmarked for the initiative.
“Given where we are in the legislative session it would not be to late start the process,” Dalton said. “But I would think that I would look for it to pass next year rather than this year.”
Pat McDermott, Ballwin Ward 2 Alderman, said the traffic flow on Manchester is critical to making the project viable.
“Right now, with the market suppressed, it would be a great time to upgrade the infrastructure along Manchester. The property could be purchased a lot cheaper.”
Editor's Note: This article was last updated at 1:10 p.m. on Feb. 7. A previous version of this article included a sub-headline that did not accurately reflect the parties in attendance at Saturday's meeting.