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Local officials look toward creating a network of water-centric parks

St. Charles County officials are exploring connecting a new county park along the Mississippi River with St. Peters’ 370 Lakeside Park and nearby green space.

At its May 29 meeting, the St. Charles County Council approved a $336,053 design services contract with St. Louis-based Intuition and Logic for developing the new park. The council approved the contract after delaying consideration at its May 14 meeting to renegotiate the contract price down from $476,800.

The park, to be known as Riverside Landing, will sit on a 7.73-acre tract of land between Kampville Drive and Huster Road along the Mississippi River. The parks department finalized the land purchase in March.

“We have discussed the possibility of constructing a ‘blue way’ with a kayak launching area at 370 Lakeside Park with the city of St. Peters,” St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann said in a news release.

“This will provide residents and visitors the opportunity to float approximately two miles on Dardenne Creek to Riverside Landing,” Ehlmann said. “And, we are looking at ways to connect to the Boschert Greenway and trails in the city of St. Charles. This will be a great park for those who want to explore the outdoors by boat, bike or foot.”

According to St. Peters Communication Director Lisa Bedian, St. Peters has held “very preliminary discussions” with the county on the issue but no decisions have been made.

Plans call for the park, formerly the site of the privately-owned Riverside Harbor, to offer kayaking, canoeing, boating and other water sports, as well as camping, fishing and hunting. This segment of the Mississippi River, known as Alton Lake, measures 40,000 acres and 38 miles long and is a popular summer destination close to home.

The park property is expected to open to the public in late summer for limited use. Then, it will close this winter for a major renovation that will include camping [electric and full hook-ups], a pavilion, water play area and playground, new boat ramp and docks, kayak launch area and public restrooms. If all aspects are approved, the planned schedule would result in the new park opening in 2019.

Two other county parks also are expected to open later this year. In August, a “soft” opening is planned for the 153-acre New Melle Lakes Golf Course tract on Foristell Road near Hwy. Z, which was purchased by the county in 2016 for about $2.29 million. The property features an old banquet center, a 29-acre lake and four one-acre lakes. It has been closed since 2011. No dates for its reopening have been announced.

Veterans Tribute Park, a 120-acre property under development at Kisker and Pitman roads is expected to open in October. The park will include a walking and cycling trail system, a destination playground for children of all abilities, two stocked lakes, an off-leash dog park, three open-play fields and a 100-person picnic shelter. An existing grain silo and boardwalk associated with the previous property owner, the Sammelmann Farm and Homestead, will be integrated into the park’s design. Construction costs are estimated at $7 million.

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