Friends & Neighbors,
The Dardenne Prairie Board of Aldermen will meet this Wednesday, July 19 beginning at 5:30 PM at City Hall. I encourage you to come to the meeting to hear more about the possible expansion of the City’s Parks & Recreation mission.
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.
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. I have had informal conversations with the College but no decision has yet been made by the College Board of Trustees whether to sell or retain the gym and sports fields.
The City owns about 10 acres at the SE corner of Post Rd. and Highway N. We could 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.
At our July 5 meeting the Board saw a presentation from SWT Design showing a concept design for Option #1. At this week’s meeting we are scheduled to see a presentation of a concept design for Option #2.
We are compiling estimates of the costs to acquire and develop these 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.
The Board of Aldermen will consider whether to ask the Voters of Dardenne Prairie to agree to a half-cent increase in local sales tax. The City will not proceed with any purchase or construction of either Option 1 or 2 unless the Voters support the plan and agree to the sales tax. We are considering putting the proposition on the ballot for the November 7, 2017 election. 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.
The City is also considering putting on the November ballot the annexation of 8 parcels of unincorporated St. Charles County that are within the city limits. We were successful in April in bringing in 4 parcels that are nestled in the city limits and are prime candidates for development. Any development on those parcels will now be subject to the zoning and building codes of Dardenne Prairie instead of the County government.
I urge you to come to City Hall on Wednesday and see your City Government at work.
“Shine a Light on City Government”
DAVID C. ZUCKER
City of Dardenne Prairie, MO