Now that the city of Dardenne Prairie has the money for park improvements, city officials have begun asking residents and stakeholder groups about how they want it spent.
On Nov. 15, Mathew DeWinters, parks and recreation coordinator, briefed the city’s Board of Aldermen on the city’s public engagement process to gather input on park improvements related to Proposition P, a half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters on the Nov. 7.
Proposition P could pay for a new community center and an expansion of park and recreational programs as well as stormwater improvements. The community center and other park amenities may be located on 10 acres that the city owns at the corner of Post Road and Hwy. N.
Voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition P with 731 residents or 58.15 percent voting in favor to 526 votes or 41.85 percent voting against. A half-cent increase in the sales tax will bring in about $600,000 per year in revenue to pay for the park amenities.
The sales tax funding could go to finance the construction of park facilities on the 10-acre tract costing $6 million to $7 million and have $200,000 to $300,000 left to pay for annual operating costs and expanding parks and recreational programs. But Zucker and city aldermen say the public engagement program is important to gather public input before making any final decision. Zucker said the idea all along has been to ask what recreational amenities and programs residents want, and then, design a facility to house those amenities and programs.
DeWinters said a 12-question survey was posted to the city’s website [dardenneprairie.org.] on Nov. 10 and will be up through December. The city also plans to send out a largely identical survey to 450 randomly selected households with about 10 household surveys sent to each subdivision.
Town hall meetings to discuss survey results and gather input also are scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. on Jan. 23, Feb. 18 and March 5 at city hall, 2032 Hanley Road. DeWinters said the city also plans a series of “stakeholders” meetings for business groups, athletic groups and churches.
Zucker said the city may determine by March if the public engagement period needs to be extended or not. The city would start collecting the new revenue starting in April 2018 and be able to pay for pre-development costs. Zucker said the first phase of construction may be completed in 2019 although no schedule has been set. The sales tax will add $30 a year or $2.50 per month in additional tax for someone spending $500 annually in the city.
The city opted for using the 10-acre tract after being rebuffed by the St. Charles Community College District about using portions of the old Barat Academy gymnasium and sports fields adjacent to the city’s Barathaven Park. The college acquired the 28-acre property from Lindenwood University.
Zucker said St. Charles County government officials also were not interested in selling its 25-acre Youth Activity Park at 7801 Hwy. N in Dardenne Prairie.
Zucker said the city-owned 10-acre site, across the street from Immaculate Conception of Dardenne Catholic Church and not far from city hall on Hanley Road, is centrally located and could provide a venue for indoor sports, classes, public meetings and other activities.