LETTER: Save Lone Elk Park for Home, Community
One West St. Louis County resident through a letter to the editor would like all involved with the proposed closure of Lone Elk Park to be loyal to necessary green space. "Please reconsider Mr. Dooley."
I live in Winchester, MO.
For many years, Lone Elk Park has been an element of my idea of home and community. Whenever my parents came in town from Iowa, we would find time to drive through Lone Elk.
I always enjoy photographing the bison, elk, deer, geese, ducks and turkey. Few parks in Missouri offer the opportunity to observe our once common residents. Few, if any, have the heart-warming history. I love the idea that community members, young and old, raised money to bring Yellowstone elk here to join the lonely survivor. There are two bachelor bulls that keep each other company there away from the herd. I love to watch them. They seem so loyal to each other.
Lone Elk is not an island to itself but rather a link in a belt of green space that supports a healthy habitat for the county's non-human residents.
In addition to critters mentioned earlier, it supports the huge diversity of birds in North America's central migratory route. Castlewood, West Tyson are its neighbors. The new Route 66 is not too far away. Across 44, Beaumont Park extends this natural community. What do we possibly need more than this? More housing, more retail?
Where is our loyalty to our special places? I think it's there. It's hidden in our silent but regular vigils. Now, though, it's time to make noise to counter [St. Louis County Executive Director Charlie] Dooley's challenge to our priorities.
Mr. Dooley proposes the sale and/or closings of 19 county parks. (See Eureka-Wildwood Patch article: Lone Elk Park, Greensfelder Park and West County Tyson Park Among Those County May Close)
He explains that in these hard times, we need to make a sacrifice. Does Mr. Dooley understand that Missouri has gone to great expense to bring back both the elk and bison to Missouri, and here we have them for the enjoyment and education of our community right here in Lone Elk Park?
When this area served as an ammunitions storage site, the commanding officer ordered the local elk killed. One calf survived, thus the name, Lone Elk Park. State Representative George Weber suggested getting that calf some company. The young and old raised the money. Children sold share certificates! The elk were brought from Yellowstone. You want to throw away our history? Our legacy? Sell off a huge chunk of the hosting area for the thousands of birds that rest here during their migrations? When their numbers extinguish, then what?
Please reconsider Mr. Dooley. Letting go our history, our natural communities, to save cash that makes up a fraction of our yearly budget is giving up too much of our value we will never get back.