Parks Request Sent to County Officials From Wildwood
Wildwood staffers and city council members said Monday evening they hoped other municipalities would follow their lead in sending official requests to St. Louis County administrators and councilmen about finding alternatives to selling county parks.
As part of Wildwood's city council work session Monday evening, council members unanimously voted to send the following letter to St. Louis County officials regarding proposed budget cuts that would eliminate county parks and jobs. Three targeted parks in the Wildwood-Eureka area were West County Tyson, Greensfelder and Lone Elk.
A Rally to Save the Parks hosted by The Open Space Council managers is being held this afternoon (Tuesday) at 4:30 p.m. in front of the St. Louis County Government Building, 41 S. Central Avenue in Clayton.
The Nov. 15 letter is addressed to Steven Stenger, Chairperson, St. Louis County Council, Clayton.
Dear Chairperson Stenger:
The City of Wildwood, Missouri has had a significant history of cooperation and service exchanges with St. Louis County, since its incorporation in 1995. This cooperation and exchanges in service continues today, with a major police contract, public works reviews and perimitting, and park planning and shared recreational amenities and activities. Over the course of the last sixteen (16) years, the City of Wildwood and St. Louis County have mutually worked to improve the quality of life in this area, while providing high quality services and amenities to its residents. These successes have been achieved through partnerships formed with common goals that have resulted in the development of trails, programs and activities for their use, and new opportunities utilizing existing and new park holdings for the benefit of both of our constituents.
The recent announcement about the closing of parks and the elimination of park personnel certainly was a shock to Wildwood's elected and appointed officials, and this entire community. The park system that has been established by St. Louis County, through the funding by its residents, is one of the best in the nation and has over an estimated fifteen million visitors per year. The diversity of the park properties, the range of offered activities, and the quality of park staff make this system a model for all others in the region to emulate. The City Council of the City of Wildwood is certain that any proposal to close or sell park properties and eliminate staff would not be taken lightly, but, nonetheless, the City Council strongly holds the belief that other options should be considered first, before the sale of unique and priceless park properties, along with the reduction of staffing, which manages and maintains them. Obviously, once a property is sold, it is lost to the public forever. It is the opinion of the City of Wildwood that such a course of action would be extremely short-sighted, given the return on such sales of these properties would not permanently address the root causes of the current budget situation and will only resolve it in the short-term, if at all, while leaving a lasting void in the overall park system for generations to come.
The City Council of the City of Wildwood, Missouri is encouraging all St. Louis County elected and appointed officials to review this course of potential action from the perspective of its long-term impacts upon it and abandon it due to its enormous impacts herein. The closing and sale of park properties is contrary to the intent of the St. Louis County Charter and would deprive future generations the opportunity to ride a horse on a wooden trail, see wildlife outside the confines of a zoo, swim and boat in or on the Meramec River, and respect the donations and philanthropy of past property owners who donated or sold property to St. Louis County with the intent for it to remain in the public domain forever. Solutions to budget considerations are never easy in difficult economic times, but the City Council of Wildwood is convinced that alternatives exist that can preserve our park system and the people who keep it an asset and address the revenue and expenditure situation in a more productive manner, so as one of the only true assets of St. Louis County, its parks, can be retained and offered to countless residents and visitors for many years to come.
The City Council of the City of Wildwood certainly appreciates the situation that St. Louis County is faced with at this time and ready to assist in any means it can help a partner of it through this difficult time. If you should have any questions or comments regarding this letter, please feel free to contact either City Administrator Daniel E. Dubruielo or me at (636) 458-0440. Thank you for your careful consideration of this letter, and its contents, and accepting the comments contained therein in the spirit of cooperation and encouragement that they are offered in this regard.
CITY OF WILDWOOD, MISSOURI
Timothy Woerther, Mayor