Not everyone is happy about a proposed aquatic park, golf course clubhouse and other park improvements in St. Peters, despite overwhelming voter approval on Aug. 2 of a $12 million no-tax increase bond issue to fund them.
Residents of the Carrington Place and Dardenne Estates subdivisions are questioning whether the city informed them properly about the impact of the new facilities on their nearby homes.
Proposition Q, the bond issue, included $3.5 million to build the aquatic center on an athletic field just south of the city’s Rec-Plex complex off Mexico Road, and $5.7 million for a new St. Peters golf course clubhouse and banquet center at 200 Salt Lick Road, just south of Interstate 70.
City officials said the projects would enhance the “quality of life” in the city. On Aug. 2, city voters approved the bond issue with 7,241 votes in favor or 65.82 percent to 3,761 votes against or 34.18 percent. The bond issue required a 57.14 percent majority votes for passage.
But subdivision residents began questioning aldermen and Mayor Len Pagano, particularly during the public comment portions of the July 28, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25 board meetings.
“I thought the city did a half-hearted effort in informing the citizens who were going to be adversely affected by this, that our houses are bumped up against the banquet and aquatic center,” said resident Deborah Pagoria on Aug. 11.
She said the banquet center improvement is 50 feet from her bedroom and 20 feet from her backyard property line. She suggested downsizing the banquet center and placing the aquatic center at the 370 Lakeside Park. And she questioned suggestions by city officials that the property values of nearby residences might increase.
“Nobody is going to want that in their backyard if they go to sell their property,” Pagoria said.
At the Aug. 25 meeting, she again asked for a study that city officials said indicated that property values would not drop, and said she is also worried about increased water runoff and flooding in an area flooded by Dardenne Creek.
Ken Krawczak, who also lives near the proposed banquet center improvement, accused aldermen and Pagano at the Aug. 11 meeting of lying to residents.
“None of you would want a huge banquet center 50 feet from your back door,” Krawczak said. “If you answer yes, you’re lying again.”
Also at the Aug. 11 meeting, resident Ken Revanaugh questioned if it was appropriate for the city to build a banquet center to compete with local companies and use tax-exempt bonds to fund the construction of the center. Later at the same meeting, Pagano said that he and city staff have met with some nearby residents to answer questions and look at adjustments to city plans. He said the city would be gathering ideas for the developments over the next few months and would include more “input by residents.” But at the Aug. 25 meeting, Pagano criticized what he called “name calling” by some residents during public comments, saying it amounted to bullying and suggested that name calling doesn’t provide a good example for young people and leads to fostering hate.
“I will not tolerate hate in St. Peters,” he said
Prior to placing the bond issue on the ballot, the city had completed and reviewed an aquatic center study, conducted by Westport Pools, and a golf and banquet center study, conducted by Powers Bowersox Associates, Inc.
The aquatic center study includes a design that features and eight-lane competition pool, a lazy river that includes a long channel with a current where swimmers can float using inflatables, splash pad, shade, a party pavilion, bathhouse a one-meter diving board, two deck slides and beach.
The St. Peters golf and banquet center study suggests a state-of-the-art facility to support golf course operations and recreational and community events. The proposal would include space for storing golf carts, new banquet facilities seating 350 people, expanded parking, more kitchen improvements, covered space for golf events, patio and deck space. The present facility would be demolished to make way for the new facilities.