March 2, 2016

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

President-Elect Bill Clendenin called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. 

Board members in attendance: Beth Bennett, Bill Clendenin, Sean Cochran, Jeremy Mehrle, Jackie Parker, Steve Parker

Board members absent: Luann Denten, Alicia Stellhorn, Gary Toribio, Mike Ziemann

Elected officials in attendance: Alderman Jack Coatar and Alderman Ken Ortmann

Guests: Todd Waelterman, St. Louis City Director of Operations

New members: None 

Candidates: Patrick Hamacher, a candidate for St. Louis Circuit Attorney, and Marty Murray Jr., a candidate for 7th Ward Committeeman, introduced themselves during the new members part of the meeting.

Secretary’s Minutes: Minutes from the Feb. 3 General Membership Meeting and the Feb. 24 Board Meeting were approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer’s Report was approved.

Post-Meeting Social: At Soulard Station, 1911 S. 12 St.

City Earnings Tax Presentation: Todd Waelterman, St. Louis City Director of Operations, made a presentation on behalf of renewing the City Earnings Tax, which is on the April 5 ballot. Waelterman, former Streets Director, stated:

 St. Louis’ 1 percent Earnings Tax has existed since 1959.

 Because of a statewide vote in 2010, it faces a renewal vote of city voters every five years. 

 In 2011, its renewal was approved by 88 percent of voters.

 The tax generates about $164 million a year, about one-third of the city’s revenues. 

 55 percent of the Earning Tax revenue is generated by non-residents.

 If the tax isn’t renewed, sales taxes and property taxes would greatly increase.

In response to a question, Waelterman agreed that replacement sources of revenue need to be found in case renewal is ever denied.

He also fielded a question about parking tickets and street cleaning, and said that the Citizens Service Bureau (314-622-4800) is the office to call if a scheduled street cleaning is missed.

Police Report: Officer Brian Min reported these crime statistics for February:

 Three assaults, all Mardi Gras-related 

 Seven stolen autos, two of which had the keys inside 

 One burglary of a garage 

 One robbery (Two people were robbed separately by the same suspect. The suspect stole a woman’s purse off a patio table at the Bastille, 1027 Russell Blvd., and then robbed the second victim of a cellphone and wallet at gunpoint while fleeing.)

 18 larcenies, including 13 car break-ins. One arrest was made.

 Four instances of property damage, three related to Mardi Gras 

Officer Min said there were 43 crimes related to Mardi Gras. Police wrote 19 summonses, 18 of them for underage drinking. There were 15 lost articles. A gun was recovered after it was dropped by someone who had been involved in a streetfight fleeing the scene. All in all, he said, it was “a pretty quiet Mardi Gras.”

Officer Min noted the neighborhood’s representation at a sentencing hearing for a parolee who had been released after serving 17 years of a 20-year term for a murder conviction and was sentenced Feb. 19 to a four-year term in an air-conditioning theft.  

Old Business:

Board Elections: Clendenin read the names of four people who have been nominated for Board positions to be voted on at the April 6 SRG General Membership Meeting. Three Board offices (President-Elect, Treasurer and Secretary) and two Directors seats are up for election. 

Jim Price and Wade Weistreich have been nominated for President-Elect, a three-year term. 

Chris Schwarz has been nominated for Treasurer, a one-year term. Venessa Kobrin has been nominated for Secretary, a one-year term. 

New Business: None

American Legion Post 422 Report: Mr. Bill Wirtel reported that:

 The date of the Mouse Races fundraiser in 2017 has moved from January to March so that attendance is less dependent on the weather. The Mouse Races will now be held on the first Saturday in March, which will be March 4, 2017.

 A Fifth Friday Bingo and Buffet was held Jan. 29 for 17 new rehabbing veterans at Jefferson Barracks Medical Center. All of the rehabbing veterans who were at the October 2015 Fifth Friday had been discharged.

 Post 422 has collected $3,000 in its effort to provide a flag for McKinley Public Classical Leadership Academy High School, 2156 Russell Blvd., which doesn’t have a flag or flag pole in front of the school. Mr. Bill again thanked the SRG for its $500 donation. Principal Steve Warmack is planning a special ceremony.

 The Legion was busy on Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day, once again serving biscuits and gravy.

 The first Lenten Cod Fish Fry this year Feb. 2 was a huge success. Others are scheduled March 4 and March 25.  Doors open at 5 p.m. 

 Legion Post 422 participated in the ceremony Feb. 28 marking the temporary closing of the Soldier Memorial Military Museum, 1315 Chestnut St.  The facility is undergoing a two-year, $30 million renovation. Some events that would have been held there will now take place at City Hall, 1200 Market St.

 Seven Third Friday Family Happy Hours are booked for 2016, starting April 15 through October 21. 

Soulard Business Association Report: No report.

Mardi Gras Inc. Report: The post-Mardi Gras public forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 3 at the MGI building, 2200 Dolman St.

Beautification Report: After the April 6 SRG General Membership Meeting, the Beautification Committee will host the social at the bandstand in Soulard Market Park.  The committee would appreciate help on April 2 as it cleans up in preparation.

At 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, the Weed Warriors will be joined by 20 to 30 volunteers from Saint Louis University sororities and fraternities for work at Pontiac Square Park. If enough people are present, a crew might break off and do work at Aboussie Park on South 13th Street near Sidney Street.  Three dying or dead trees were removed from Pontiac Square Park.

Cleanup work took place March 2 in the small triangle park at South 9th and Sidney streets. A car accident there left debris and caused damage. 

Communications Report: No report.

Code and Zoning Report: Jay Gibbs reminded residents to call the Citizens Service Bureau (622-4800) if they see something amiss.  His committee advises the city but doesn’t enforce.

He gave updates on several projects:

Lafayette School Apartments:  The renovation with 36 units will have two , a small sign by the door and a larger one on the east side on South 7th Street. He said a proposal to backlight the larger sign had been dropped and the sign has been approved by Cultural Resources. A proposal for two paneled garage doors was tabled.

109-13 Allen Avenue: UIC, a design and building firm, bought the historic house and lot next to it and proposed a front house and alley house, both new construction with what Gibbs termed “strikingly contemporary” design. The proposal was made to the committee, which signaled its disapproval, to the apparent surprise of the builder. A follow-up email explaining the committee’s reasoning has been sent.

Polar Wave Construction: At the meeting Feb. 29, a proposal for a large infill was presented. Polar Wave wants to buy Victor Ironworks and demolish the Industrial Steel Corp. building.  A drawing was shown of a five-story building with 115 units, with 86 parking spaces off-street behind it. The committee thought it was too contemporary, but was told that the drawing had been speedily prepared just to have something to show. Committee members questioned the density, noting the 115 units would be in addition to the 43 at Polar Wave. A five-story building also might not fit in with what code suggests for the site.  

Gibbs was asked about the corrugated paneling on the Polar Wave building, and he replied that it has been approved by the city and was not brought before the SRG.

Apartments at 2330 S. 12th St.: Gibbs reminded that Alex Oliver bought the old “Soulard Hilton,” which has operated as a boarding house since it was built in the 1890s.  Gibbs noted that it has been low-income rental property with 24 units. The plan called for 13 apartments, four each on the first, second and third floors and one basement unit. Oliver is seeking state and federal tax credits. Gibbs said the Code and Zoning Committee toured the building early-on and gave its preliminary okay for the project. The plan now calls for 14 apartments, including two ADA units in the basement. At a Plan Review Team meeting, Alderman Coatar called for as much parking as possible.  The plan called for six spaces behind the building, including one ADA spot. A variance hearing at City Hall is scheduled for March 30. 

Some neighbors, Gibbs said, are upset about the density of units and lack of parking. Gibbs said the Plan Review Team reviewed the question of density and thought it was big enough for 14 units. He said the team also thought the proposal for parking was acceptable. Gibbs said he personally visited the site one afternoon and evening and found ample street parking available.

Joy Christensen, who lives immediately north of the proposed project, said that she feared a parking overflow would lower property values. She said that in the previous boarding house setting, only about three residents had owned cars. She also said that she feared that the units might not rent for $900, but might only draw $500. Gibbs replied that the rental market in Soulard is strong. Christensen said that lofts would be a better use of the location.

Gibbs said that if someone doesn’t like a decision of the Plan and Zoning Committee, the SRG bylaws allow for the membership to ask the SRG Board to overturn the decision. Beth Bennett, an SRG Board member and Plan and Zoning Committee member, said that the “Soulard Hilton was a dump” and that she found the rehab proposal exciting.

Paul Kjorlie said that fewer young people own cars than in years past, perhaps lessening concerns over street parking.

Alderman Coatar thanked the Plan Review Team for the time it puts into reviewing proposals and said he greatly appreciates the help they provide him.

Fundraising Report: Smarty Gras Trivia Night Feb. 20 raised more than $6,000.

A cheer station will again be staged at 7:30 a.m. April 10 at South 9th and Victor streets for the GO! Marathon and half-marathon runners.  Canned goods will be collected to benefit the food pantry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard. 

Membership Report: The next Membership Committee meeting is at 7 p.m. March 3 at Soulard Station. 

Residential Promotion Report: The next meeting will be March 7 at Luann Denten’s home.

Safety Report: Scott Plackemeier stressed the importance of signing neighborhood impact petitions. The Spring Safety Walk will follow the April 6 SRG General Membership Meeting. The committee meets on the last Monday of every month at Soulard Station.

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 8:13 p.m.