Aug. 5, 2015

Location: Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 1919 S. 7th St.

Meeting was called to order by president-elect Bill Clendenin at 7 p.m.

Board members in attendance: Bill Clendenin, Beth Bennett, Luann Denten, Jeremy Mehrle, Jackie Parker, Steve Parker, Gary Toribio

Board members absent: Sean Cochran, Nancy Kelly, Alicia Stellhorn, Mike Ziemann

Elected officials in attendance: State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, Alderman Jack Coatar, Alderman Ken Ortmann.

Secretary’s Minutes:

Minutes from the June 3 General Meeting, the June 19 Board Meeting, the July 1 General Meeting and July 29 Board Meeting were submitted and approved by the membership.

Treasurer’s Report:

Treasurer’s Report was approved.

New Members

Three new members introduced themselves.

Police Report:

Officer Brian Min:

Officer Min said July crimes included:

·         Four assaults

·         One rape

·         Nine stolen auto

·         10 burglaries

·         One robbery

·         Nine larcenies, including four car break-ins

·         Four instances of property damage

Officer Min said a suspect was in custody in the burglary of Riley’s Florist, 1705 S. 7th St. That person is believed responsible for other burglaries. In several cases, burglaries occurred at unlocked garages; among items taken were a lawn mower, bicycle and lumber.

Officer Min said there’s already been a rash of holdups in August, including armed robberies in the 900 block of Geyer Avenue, 2300 block of South 12th Street, 2000 block of Menard Street and 2900 block of Menard Street.

Paul Kjorlie asked if recent TV reports about crime in Soulard were examples of “sensational reporting.” Officer Min responded that between July 21-30, there were eight car thefts, which he said could be characterized as a spree.

Detective Tom Mayer:

Det. Mayer said that despite what has recently occurred, police have been very successful in clearing up cases in Soulard.

He noted the capture of the two juveniles in the carjacking case and said that authorities were attempting to connect them to three other cases. Four other youths, one who was just 6 years old, were referred to the St. Louis Juvenile Court. Three parents were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Kjorlie asked if police were using bait cars in an effort to catch auto thieves. Det. Mayer responded yes but noted that the program relies on stealth and said he was reluctant to share much information about it publicly.

Det. Mayer praised the SRG Safety Committee for its efforts to get security cameras in the neighborhood and called for more of them. He said that Central West End has a phenomenal camera system and that robberies were way down as a result.

Bill Clendenin said the goal is to get five or six cameras operating this year, and grow to perhaps nine by next year. Clendenin said the primary purpose of the cameras is to allow police to review video immediately after a crime, which is particularly useful in armed robberies, burglaries and auto thefts. He noted that the cameras will have software compatible with the Real Time Crime Center so that they can be monitored live during emergencies.

A grant for security cameras is being sought from the Mardi Gras Foundation. In addition, the Soulard Restoration Group and Soulard Business Association have pledged funds for cameras and the Soulard Special Business District will help pay for ongoing operations. 

Det. Mayer called Soulard a safe neighborhood when compared to most others in the city. He credited the help of residents in cleaning up cases, noting that in some neighborhoods residents are unwilling to acknowledge that they had witnessed a crime. Det. Mayer said that “pass-through crime” can occur in any neighborhood.

He was asked whether the “club” helps thwart car theft. He responded that thieves now use hacksaws, in some instances cutting through the steering wheel, and steal the car anyway.

Rick Dungey asked if many of the auto thefts involved stick shifts. “Not many,” Det. Mayer replied. In one case, he said, a manual car was abandoned a half block away from the site of the theft. But police were able to gather DNA evidence.

Det. Mayer noted the presence of elected officials State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, Alderman Jack Coatar and Alderman Ken Ortmann. He said it reflected well on Soulard that so many officials were concerned about the neighborhood. He said Coatar is frequently very helpful to police in expediting cases with the Circuit Attorney’s Office.

Det. Mayer said “the squeaky wheel gets the grease and you’ve got a state senator who’s not afraid to speak her mind.” Sen. Nasheed said she was working with others to draft legislation requiring mandatory sentences for offenses involving gun violence.

Paul Kjorlie asked Det. Mayer if he shared concerns about judges expressed by Police Chief Sam Dotson and Mayor Francis Slay. He replied that he did and that Chief Dotson has asked officers to tell him about unsatisfactory judicial performances in courtrooms. Det. Mayer added that there are lots of good judges.

Det. Mayer concluded by saying that “arrests don’t make news … violent crime makes news. Soulard’s a great neighborhood. Don’t let the bad guys take it from you.”

Guest speaker:

Maribeth Fresta, director of marketing at Catering St. Louis, asked for neighborhood support of their application for a new liquor license for Soulard Preservation Hall, 1911 S. 9th St.

American Legion Post 422 Report:

Mr. Bill Wirtel reported that:

·         Four Ambucs tricycles had been given to disabled veterans on March 21 and that five more were distributed July 18. Five more are being assembled and will be here soon. One cost $1,700. He asked for support of that program.

·         Small American flags were distributed at Soulard Market Park for the Fourth of July.

·         The Legion’s Happy Hour is held the third Friday of the month.

·         The sidewalk improvements have been made at the Legion Post.

·         On months with a fifth Friday, members of the Post visit veterans undergoing rehab at the Jefferson Barrack Veterans Hospital, and they did so on Friday July 31.


Soulard Business Association Report:

Dan Shield, SBA president and owner of D’s Place, 900 Barton St., said that the SBA appreciated the SRG’s push for more security cameras and that the SBA would match the SRG’s contributions for the cameras.

Soulard Market:

Free watermelon slices will be distributed Aug. 8 at Soulard Market Park to commemorate Julia Soulard’s birthday.

Mardi Gras Inc. Report:

Billy Tomber said that the next MGI event would be the “Q in the Lou” BBQ festival Sept. 25-27 in a downtown area that will have roughly the same footprint as the old Taste of St. Louis when it was downtown. SRG has been invited to have a beer booth as a fundraiser.

The MGI Board meeting is Aug. 6.

Beautification Report:

Richard Eaton said there would be no Weed Warriors this weekend because work will start on the gazebo in Aboussie Park.

Approval has been granted for a sculpture in Pontiac Square Park. The sculpture of a grouping of trees will be a walk-through experience. The fundraising goal is $80,000 to $100,000.

Volunteers from Anheuser-Busch will help Monday with gardening in Soulard Market Park and the small triangle at Ninth and Sidney streets.

Communications Report:

An iPad has been purchased that can serve as a Square Card reader at SRG fundraising events.

The deadline for the next issue of the Renaissance is Sept. 4.

Code and Zoning Report:

Jay Gibbs reported:

·         The original design of Aboussie Park, done by Paul Kjorlie, called for a gazebo.

·         City Hall has given the OK for a curb cut at 1021 Shenandoah Ave. to allow for a driveway.

·         Approval was given for a kitchen addition on the north side of the house at 2322 S. 12th Street.

·         The number of apartment units in the Lafayette School renovation has been reduced by the builder to 36 instead of the 48 to 52 originally envisioned.

·         Both the Code and Zoning Committee and the SRG Board had refused a request by the owner of Shelly’s, 2001 Menard St., for a letter requesting that the restaurant be allowed to have windows that don’t meet historic code.  The windows that were installed will have to be replaced.

·         The committee will take nominations for Star Awards for new construction and significant renovation work.

Gibbs said he was unsure about the status of the building on the southeast corner of 9th and Lami streets. Several people at the meeting offered conflicting theories.

Fundraising report:

Rick Dungey called for volunteers to work four-hour shifts at the Q in the Lou event. He said between $2,000 and $8,000 has been raised at similar events in the past.

He asked for volunteers to work four-hour shifts at Oktoberfest Oct. 9-11.

Dungey said he had learned of a fundraising opportunity that involves selling Christmas wreaths. A Christmas tree farm in Michigan specializes in doing fundraisers for non-profits. He asked residents at the SRG meeting if they would be willing to purchase a wreath and there was a significant show of hands.  He said he would prepare a proposal to present to the SRG Board.

Membership Report:

A reminder was given about SRG Night at the Gateway Grizzlies on Aug. 8.

Tonight’s Social will be at the home of Veronica and Neal Putz, 805 Allen Ave.

Residential Promotion Report:

An order for Soulard flags will have to be redone because the sleeves on the flags produced were too small for the poles. Luann Denten said she hopes to have the new flags by the next General Membership Meeting.

She thanked those who attended the Gathering of the Mob parade on July 10, saying that more than 300 people were there at one point.

She said the entry marker signs are delayed because there’s a back order on 14-foot street poles.

Safety Report:

Bill Clendenin thanked those who participated in National Night Out events Aug. 4 and said he thought there had been at least five street parties. He noted that police officers had visited several parties to become better acquainted with residents.

The next Safety Committee Meeting is 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at Soulard Station, 1911 S. 12th St.


The meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m.