The first formal opposition has appeared to seven proposed soccer fields in Bluebird Meadow along a trail beside Dardenne Creek near Henning Road in Dardenne Prairie.
The objections by Westfield Woods subdivision residents are similar to those raised by St. Charles County residents who were worried by a similar proposal near Wentzville.
On Oct. 14, the Westfield Woods Board of Directors issued a letter listing six major issues the subdivision has with the proposed soccer fields.
The issues include:
• Light pollution from lights needed to illuminate the fields and its impact on the subdivision. The letter cited, as an example, the “significant glow” created by the lights on the fields near O’Fallon’s Renaud Center or by any other lighted outdoor complex.
• Increased traffic on Henning Road, caused in part by a 300- to 340-space parking lot. No traffic study has been done on Henning Road, directors say.
• The impact of a parking lot and fields, which opponents say would be negative, on wildlife along Dardenne Creek.
• Noise, particularly for homes on the ridge along the northern border of the subdivision.
• Lack of access to the existing Bluebird spur trail during soccer practice and games.
• Outside individuals using the private Westfield Woods walking trail, pavilion and ball field, and leaving trash behind.
Westfield Woods directors said Bluebird Meadows also is on in a floodplain that may be damaging to artificial turf. The directors say that Great Rivers Greenway has indicated in a letter that they would not move ahead without a partnership with the city and a “thorough public engagement process.” It goes on to say that “the proposed development is not a park, but a soccer complex and does not preserve natural resources. This does not seem to fit the mission of the Greenway, which is in the business of building trails and parks that link the St. Louis area, not partnering in the development of sports complexes.”
The letter adds that if the city and Gateway Greenway want to work together to develop the area into a park that preserves its current natural setting, “most if not all residents would likely be in favor of that.”
“The area is named Bluebird Park, not Bluebird Sports Complex,” the letter asserts. It states that the subdivision prides itself on keeping its common ground next to the proposed fields green with native trees and plants. The subdivision also has a walking trail, pavilion and ball field it maintains with the help community volunteers.
“We think we have a jewel next to the proposed soccer complex that is in jeopardy of being tarnished,” the letter states.
Mayor David Zucker said last week that even if the proposal was discussed it would not become a reality until 2016 or later as the area still is under lease by a sod farm. He added that if Great Rivers Greenway agrees to lease the property, the city would manage the space, perhaps as part of a public and private partnership. He further said that the idea might be worth considering because the fields offer multi-purpose outdoor recreation space that the city is short of, and private funds would be used to build it. The fields could be used by city residents for other recreational activities such as lacrosse, rugby, kite-flying or other outdoor activities, he said.
Whatever the outcome, Zucker said that the city is “going to take a deliberate approach.”
To date, the only formal proposal before the board was a September briefing by representatives of the Missouri Thorns, the soccer club proposing the fields.