Messenger: Bulldozers in Park for Stormwater Work or Ice Rink?

By on August 25, 2017

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  When the St. Louis Blues first announced a multimillion-dollar ice rink project in May 2016 for a corner of Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger applied the metaphorical brakes.

“I think they got the cart before the horse,” Stenger said.

A few months later, the Blues backed the cart up to Stenger’s campaign stall and made a $5,000 delivery. It was Sept. 12 and the owners of the city’s hockey franchise had picked their horse.

The very next day, the St. Louis Port Authority created the “Sports Recreation Initiative” and hired attorney Bob Blitz — another Stenger donor — to a $50,000 no-bid contract to help create the framework for a public-private partnership to build the new practice home of the Blues, which would also provide ice time for local youth hockey teams.

Today, the site tapped for the ice complex is scraped bare by bulldozers. On both sides of Marine Avenue in the northwestern corner of the federally protected park, trees, grass, wildlife and wildflowers are gone, replaced by acres of dirt being flattened and raised by heavy construction equipment every day.

That work, key county officials claim, has nothing to do with the ice project, which has yet to get the approval it needs from the National Park Service to go forward.

Sheila Sweeney, CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, says the grading work, even if it might ultimately benefit the ice center, is connected to an unrelated stormwater project.

“The grading work is not related to anything other than stormwater management,” she told the Post-Dispatch this summer. That’s also what she told the Department of Natural Resources in a written request for approval to begin the work.

A growing number of critics to the project find that argument simply unbelievable.

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