Friends & Neighbors.
The Board of Aldermen and City Staff have been considering possible expansion of the City’s Parks and Recreation programs offered to our residents.
The City’s current facilities provide outdoor recreation to small children at the City Hall Park; to youth baseball and softball players at the City ball fields; and to youth soccer, lacrosse and cricket players at the Barathaven and Bluebird Meadow practice fields. In addition, the City offers a limited social gathering at City Hall once a month for adults over 50 years of age and a limited number of outdoor music concerts and movies in the City Park during the summer. We have plans to add recreational baseball and softball in the late summer and early fall.
The City Hall Park is nearly full every day during good weather. Park usage shows there is a need for more playground facilities, pavilions, and open spaces. In addition, we believe the City’s recreational programs are serving only a small portion of our residents. We are looking at options that would enable the City to provide programs for a wider range of interests and age groups all year round in both outdoor and indoor activities.
The City has already committed to making investments to upgrade the City Baseball Fields next to City Hall, presently owned by the Dardenne Athletic Association. Ultimately, ownership will transfer to the City so that any investments by the City would be public property. These investments would likely include paving the parking lot, improving lighting on the playing field and building restrooms and an equipment storage building. A variety of outdoor sports and recreational programs using the ball fields will be planned for about 8 months of the year.
There are some additional options that we are exploring that would achieve the goal of a broad based recreational program serving the public all year. Options 1, 2 and 3 are outlined below.
Approach the St. Charles Community College to acquire the former Barat Academy Gym and sports fields adjacent to the City’s Barathaven Park and its soccer fields and cricket pitch. That property, if acquired, could be developed into a 13-acre destination park serving people of all ages and interests with activities held indoors and outdoors 12 months of the year, including a summer camp for kids.
The City owns about 10 acres at the corner of Post Rd. and Highway N. We would build a community center there as well as other park amenities. The community center would provide a year-round venue for indoor sports, classes, public meetings and other activities.
We could forego expansion of parks and use the money we have in the general fund (retaining a healthy reserve) for a more aggressive repair/construction program for streets and sidewalks.
We are compiling estimates of the costs to acquire and develop additional park facilities. Costs of Options 1 or 2 will exceed $5 million. To pay for Options 1 or 2 the City will need a one-half cent sales tax increase to be approved by the voters. This Parks & Storm Water Tax would service the debt incurred to build a park and would provide revenue to pay operating costs of expanded recreational programs and park maintenance. If the voters do not agree to the additional sales tax the City would not undertake Options 1 or 2. If adopted the sales tax rate in Dardenne Prairie would still be lower than the rates in Lake St. Louis, Wentzville, or most of O’Fallon.
We held our first public meeting to discuss the Park Expansion concept at the BOA Workshop on Wednesday, July 5. We intend to have several more public meetings at City Hall and elsewhere to invite the public to see what is being considered and to share their opinions about our Options. The next meeting will be at City Hall on Wednesday, July 19 at 5:30 PM. We will have drawings depicting some ideas for park development. I encourage you to attend the next meeting an see what we are talking about. We want your input.
“Shine a Light on City Government”
DAVID C. ZUCKER
City of Dardenne Prairie, MO