Time to Commit to Longview Farm Parking Project

It's time for Town and Country aldermen to decide if the city will move forward with the Longview Farm parking expansion project by bringing an engineer on board.

The  parking report was discussed by aldermen Monday night.

Despite efforts by a few Town and Country residents, in March, the Municipal Park Grant Commission of St Louis County unanimously approved funding for a $4,000 engineering study grant for the project.

In April,  as they evaluate the need for additional parking and the Longview parking expansion project.

The project would add 15 additional parking spots to the park. It's a recommendation that was made by the Longview Farm Park Ad-Hoc Committee which is headed up by former Town and Country mayor, Alderman Skip Mange.

"I think this is pretty close to what we can do. but we have to get the engineering done before we can identify it," Mange said. "It just depends on what the survey shows us."

So Mange said Monday that it's time for aldemen to vote to bring on an engineer if the city is truly committed to the project and wants to move forward with the survey. Mange is asking the board of alderment to appropriate $15,000 for the enigeerig contract with Sterling Engineering.

"We're at this decision point where we decide whether we move forward wth hiring a project engineer or we don't," Mange said.

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He reviewed the project with aldermen Monday and said they are on a deadline. The city has to have project design plans completed and be in the bidding process by the end of November, which is the deadline for the construction grant by the Municipal Park Grant Commission of St Louis County.

"That grant is 100 percent of the construction cost," Mange said. It will also cover 50 percent of project landscaping costs.

Ultimately, changes will include a single entrance, a single exit, angled parking and a circular pattern through the parking lot.

"We are proposing to add two light fixtures down in the middle of the existing parking lot at the bottom of the hill by the barn. It' gets a little dark at night," Mange explained.

There will also be signs indicating the entrance and exit of the park, to keep traffic "flowing in the right direction."

The main concern repeatedly brought up by some residents is a loss of green space in the park with the addition of 15 new parking spots.

Mange said that if all of the new parking is done in asphalt then there would be a total loss of 400 square feet of green space. However, he proposes using "green" paver blocks in some of the spots, which he said would actually add 800 additional square feet of green space to the park. The paver blocks are concrete blocks about 36 square inches, with a hole in the middle through which grass grows. So 50 percent of the block is grass, according to Mange.

"We'll have more green space than we have now,' Mange tells Patch. "This is green space that you're going to be parking on. They have it at the Missouri Botanical Garden. They've done it at the municipal centers. MSD encourages it bc it reduces run off."

However, some residents remain unhappy with the ultimate loss of grass.

"For residents 'green space' means trees, grass, not parked cars," resident Mariette Palmer told aldermen Monday.

Now the fate of the project is in the hands of aldermen who are set to vote on whether to appropriate $15,000 for the engineerig contract that is currently at a cost of $13,700.

Mange said ultimately the city will pay 15 percent of the total project and grants will cover 85 percent.

Even now, for the engineering plans that aldermen must decide on, if aldermen appropriate the $15,000 for the agreement, $4,000 of that cost would actually be covered by the engineering study grant approved for the city in March, so Mange said the city pays $11,000 for the enigeering plans.

"The net cost to the city to move ahead at this time would be $11,000 ," Mange said. "We're at at the point right now where either we commit to the $11,000, or we don't."

Aldermen could vote on allocating the funds at the June 25 board of aldermen meeting.

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