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Special Purpose District for Manchester Road Being Sought by Wildwood, Ballwin, Ellisville Officials

A new "overlay" governmental district to oversee long-term Manchester Road improvements is a new goal for Wildwood, Ballwin and Ellisville city representatives.

With Manchester Road being targeted as part of the St. Louis Great Streets Initiative, this major thoroughfare needs a major transformation that will take years to complete. To be able to work together for an extended period of time, city staffers, council members and board of aldermen of Wildwood, Ellisville and Ballwin municipalities hope to form a "special purpose" taxing district with the sole purpose of executing improvements to the Manchester Road corridor.

Wildwood city council members approved a resolution at Monday evening's council meeting to pursue this long-range collaboration with neighboring municipalities. Wildwood City Administrator Dan Dubruiel said Ellisville and Ballwin city officials already had approved their participation in the special purpose district.

Winchester and Manchester were part of the original five cities targeted to work together, but to date, those two municipalities have declined to participate. "Winchester and Manchester fell by the wayside; they weren't willing to fund the effort or coordinate the oversight," said Dubruiel.

"It's disappointing to not see all cities involved, but Winchester only has a small piece of Manchester Road, maybe a 1/4 mile, so it's understandable. The major problems of Manchester would be covered by just our three cities," said Wildwood City Council Member Harry LeMay, Ward 3.

Dubruiel said Missouri legislators would have to approve the creation of such a multijurisdictional district.

The Manchester Road Great Streets Master Plan was established to enhance the "economic, social and aesthetic qualities" of the corridor. Dubruiel said he, Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther, and Planning and Zoning Commissioner Chair Jon Bopp, had been involved with the effort through a steering committee for the past five years.

"A major plan study was done four years ago through a grant, and it resulted in a master plan that would span the next 20 to 30 years," said Dubruiel.

He said with Missouri Department of Transportation and East-West Gateway Council of Governments' officials devoting $5 million to resurface Manchester Road from Missouri Route 141 all the way to Wildwood's Missouri Route 100/West Glen Farms intersection during 2014, Wildwood was set to gain new lighting for pedestrian trails associated with the roadway.

Wildwood council members asked several questions about Wildwood's eventual costs of being involved. To date, Dubruiel said $50,000 was set aside for the project in the city's budget, but was unallocated for a specified purpose.

Wildwood City Council Member Jim Kranz, Ward 7, asked if Ellisville was getting a new Walmart, shouldn't Walmart pay for the streetscape changes in that area.

"What exactly would the new district do?" posed Wildwood City Council Member Ron James, Ward 6.

Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther said the special district would be similar to Great Rivers Greenway. "We, as city representatives, are elected for a specific period of time. So the district would last beyond us (terms of office). And the district would go to the voters to request funding, if that's what was decided was needed."

Woerther said Wildwood already was getting $1 million worth of support from the effort.

Dubruiel said the new district's structure should enable the project to more effectively seek grants. "And it's up to Wildwood's representatives to ensure the agreement works for us, that we get our fair share. Our issues and needs are different than Ballwin's and Ellisville's."

Wildwood Council Member Debra Smith McCutchen, Ward 5, asked if continuity was the reason for establishing such a district. But Dubruiel said the cities operating within the district would want their own identities and qualities so that the diverse needs could be met through the endeavor.

"This is a great way to go, especially for federal funding," said Wildwood City Council Member and former mayor Ed Marshall, Ward 2. "Trying to get five cities to work together without this would be challenging."

The proposed special taxing district would have its own board of directors.

At Monday's meeting, council members also approved the legal agreement for the special district being drawn up by attorney Jonathan Dalton. He is at the same law firm as Wildwood's city attorney—Lewis Rice Fingersh—and he is the mayor of Town & Country.

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