St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Residents express hope for riverfront plans
By Greg Jonsson
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tuesday, Oct. 11 2005
Area residents got a chance Tuesday night to see the plans being developed for
the riverfront below the Gateway Arch, the boldest of which would put floating
islands of greenery in the Mississippi River.
Plans, even bold ones, are nothing new to St. Louis. But many of the hundreds
of people who saw the plans at Forest Park on Tuesday liked most of what they
saw and were hopeful these plans would meet with more success than those that
have come and gone in the past.
"There is hope this might be implemented," said Marcel Esubi of Ballwin. "St.
Louis has had a lot of plans. The problem is they don't get done. Maybe now the
time is right."
Bill Burke, of HOK Planning Group, a consultant, said this plan is different
because all the important players are involved and the city is on the upswing.
The boldest of the plans calls for two groups of floating islands that would
extend the riverfront into the river in front of the Arch. The islands would
feature walking and biking paths and a swimming pool that could serve double
duty as an ice skating rink in the winter. Floating bridges would connect the
islands with the riverfront.
Green, red, purple and yellow lights could shine on the islands, which would
form a curves reflecting the form of the Arch.
"We'd like to do something really unique and position this riverfront on a
national stage," said Burke, who presented the plans along with designer Diane
Balmori. "We think there's a fantastic opportunity that exists down there."
Three other plans on display at the session were lesser versions, starting with
a decorated river's edge promenade.
The boldest plan faces a number of hurdles even if it gets the support and
momentum that other plans lacked. Those include concerns about flooding,
possible interference with shipping and working with the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and the National Park Service, which controls the Arch grounds. Those
developing the plans say they're working on all of those matters.
Work on the project could begin as soon as 2007 if backers can line up public
and private money.
The plan's supporter have no hard timeline, set price tag or builder.