Over the weekend, several Patch readers reported receiving a survey for their opinion about the proposed Ellisville Walmart project west of Manchester Road and Kiefer Creek Road, which the retailer pulled out of earlier this month.
There were also suggestions that people have been canvassed in person about the project.
Patch has not been able to view the survey, which was distributed by St. Louis-based Opinions, Inc. A representative for the company said the firm could not divulge the identity of the client behind the survey, but said the research firm's work was limited to the mailed survey.
Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul said he believed The Sansone Group was behind the survey, which was distributed to all Ellisville residents.
Sansone was to be the developer for the project, funded using Tax Increment Financing. Patch has reached out to Sansone and Walmart for comment and will update with that information as it becomes available.
Mayor Paul, for his part, fired off the following op-ed, provided below here in its entirety, where he addresses questions about the survey and tries to address questions about economic development in the city moving forward.
The city has scheduled a hearing for September 24 where it could then vote to revoke the conditional use permit issued for the Walmart project last fall.
It has come to my attention that Ellisville residents received an unsolicited survey (via US Mail) asking if you are in favor of the Wal-Mart project. This survey was NOT paid for or authorized by the City of Ellisville. Subsequently, the city would be unable to verify the validity of its results.
I question any survey in which the name of the survey respondent is 'optional', no digital record/receipt exists, and the person(s) who paid for it remains anonymous.
For two years our City has been somewhat divided over whether or not to use TIF (tax incentives) for a new Wal-Mart. Some of our residents still believe that the proposed Wal-Mart was going to be built at the corner of Kiefer Creek and Manchester where two large vacant dealerships currently sit. This couldn't be further from the truth. The proposed Wal-Mart would’ve been built where 23 apartment buildings and 3 small businesses currently stand. With that said, any municipality that moves forward with a Wal-Mart project of this magnitude will undoubtedly draw criticism, media attention, and spark heated debates. This especially holds true when it involves the use of tax subsidies going towards a project that removes fellow residents.
Why has that property been sitting vacant for so long? I hear this a lot. There are two reasons why development has yet to take place on the actual 'eyesore' dealerships on the corner of Manchester and Kiefer.
First, the properties were tied up in a long legal dispute. It was finally settled but then it ended up in foreclosure. Secondly, many are not aware of the fact that the previous Council placed a moratorium on these vacant sites shortly after investors bought the property last year. This moratorium was in place for many months and prevented ANY new development from happening on the corner of Kiefer Creek and Manchester. The new Council has since lifted this moratorium two months ago and on the same day, we approved our first development. AT&T will be breaking ground with a beautiful new building without tax incentives (former McDonalds site) and more developments will surely follow.
Speaking of new businesses, we have several new merchants moving to Ellisville. Golds Gym is moving into the former Gordman’s location behind CVS. For ‘freaky-fast’ sub fans, the former Mobile gas station (next to McDonalds) will be torn down and replaced with an extremely nice Jimmy Johns with extravagant landscape design. Across the street (as previously mentioned) a new AT&T building will be breaking ground. The former Ginghams restaurant has been completely remodeled for Top Tier Outdoors sporting and hunting goods store and is expected to open in the coming weeks. The former Chevy’s location has been replaced with Crafty Chameleon, a specialty bar that has over 100 different beers from around the world. Veritas, a place for fine wine and great food, has moved from Chesterfield Valley into the Fountain Plaza next to Lifetime Fitness. White Castle will be begin construction of a new building where A&W/Long John Silver’s is currently located. Also, we have an open meeting next week with an exotic car dealership to replace Tri-Star Mercedes. Things are progressing in Ellisville, not regressing. In the coming months you will witness these projects come to fruition.
The impeachment is over and no matter what our opinions are regarding Wal-Mart, we can all agree that it’s time to start healing as a house divided will not stand. To ensure this doesn’t happen again, new committees composed of residents and city staff have been formed. The spirit of the committees will ensure transparency in government, promote public awareness, and put in place measures to effectively communicate all city led initiatives to our residents. Also, the Council and the Planning and Zoning Committee have already begun working with staff on ways to improve rapport with current merchants while focusing our efforts on creating a soft landing pad for new businesses wishing to locate here. I can assure you, our top priorities are going to be the vacant corner dealerships and Best Buy, not removing our residents in search of sales tax revenue streams