Friday, January 27, 2012

Future of St. Louis Decided Behind Closed Doors And Mostly Without Citizen Input

A few days ago, new plans for the Arch grounds were presented. I followed the discussion on Twitter, and the vast majority of people were hugely disappointed in the presentation and the process. Major parts of the plan that won the design competition were left out, now that "they had looked at the details." And it sounded like they were not open to suggestions from the community. And what makes this especially depressing is that St. Louis has a fantastic community of hyper-informed urbanists who have impressive and thought-out ideas for making the city better.

I highly recommend reading a larger summary of the presentation at NextSTL. One of the biggest disappointments is that the urbanists were hoping for a design that greatly improved the connections between the downtown and the riverfront. The original design was already somewhat limited on that front, but was even further scaled back into a "hobbit hole" as was explained nicely at the Count on Downtown blog. The Mississippi River should be a major attraction of the city; instead it is for the most part buried behind ugly concrete and kept separate from the downtown.

Just another example, in my opinion, of how the people in power in St. Louis make decisions that effect everyone largely in secret and in a manner completely closed off to community input. Good ideas are not allowed to trickle up and become successes, because they are not even given attention. It's not a meritocracy; it's a powertocracy, and everyone suffers as a result.

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