Better Together...or not

Discuss new retail, dining, business and residential projects within St. Louis County, including Chesterfield, Riverport, Earth City, Westport and more.
First unread post674 posts
The PD ran a story on the Better Together folks reaching out to some county opposition regarding their initial efforts.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/better-together-addresses-audience-that-believes-city-and-county-may/article_f6592254-3dc3-5169-b7b0-73e7bc74344e.html

Choice quote from the Mayor of Webster Groves:

But Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch, a trained economist, remained dubious about the processing analysis of the data accumulated by Better Together. When it comes to consolidation, Welch moreover believes the numbers, whatever they might reveal, may prove to be secondary to a larger overriding issue.

“Local communities provide choice and diversity,” Welch said. “People love their communities and make choices to spend money for more police, parks and other services. And when you lump everything together (through consolidation) you lose what makes St. Louis rich — the ability to make our own choices.”


The inaccuracies in this thought process irks me. And the true colors of the county municipalities is going to be published more frequently now that the pot is being strirred (again).

See, this is easy, Webster thinks it is already part of what makes St. Louis rich. They just don't want to consolidate or cooperate (economically or politically) with that other St. Louis to the east. Win win for them, they are already part of their subjective version of "St. Louis"...why would they want to be PART of the real St. Louis.

This fight in the county is going to get crazy.

For the record, I think consolidation makes sense and am all for a KC, Indy, Louisville style merger. Something has got to change.
Yeah, I commented on the article. My first time I ever posting on STLToday! (Ye who enter, abandon all hope.)

But hey, I got one 'like.'
The suburban city of Ballwin, MO voted 7-1 (although, it was really unanimous if you read the article) to draft a resolution to tell Dooley and Slay that Ballwin wants no part of St. Louis.

Mayor Tim Pogue said he thought the reason for the merger was to "water down the crime statistics" and assist financially strapped municipalities.

"I don't feel we fit any of these," Pogue said. "I don't want to lose control of the revenue we provide our residents. I see the merger as very bad for the city. We're a very stable city."


PD's story here: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/ballwin-won-t-back-a-city-county-merger/article_59940e28-d296-5a33-9ade-28b0751d4a27.html

So of the 90 cities in the County, how many do you think will follow suit with like actions? I wonder how unincorporated areas will react? The County is a mystery to me and this will be interesting to watch unfold.
Can we build a wall around that town? Better yet, sounds like they will build their own wall.
A little perspective on Ballwin, MO:

The heart of this ~9 square mile city is near Manchester and Kehr's Mill Road. It is roughly south of I-64, north of the Meremec River, east of Clarkson Road and west of Woods Mill Road. The 2010 Census counted 30,404 a 3% decline from the 2000 Census count.

The demographics show a median age of 43 and is 89% white, 6% Asian, 3% black, 2% Hisp/Latino.
In 2000 it was 93% white, 3% Asian, 0.2% black, 2% Hisp/Latino.
The above examples illustrate why I think city-county consolidation (or even the less controversial idea of city reentry into St. Louis County) is probably dead in the water (no matter how much sense the idea makes).

Mark is right on both accounts. Webster Groves wants the status quo because it has the best of both worlds. It is very convenient to everything the city has to offer, far enough away to have its own identity, AND it doesn't have the stigma of being crime-ridden, having a substandard school district, etc.

In the case of Ballwin, I suppose leaders and citizens there just want to build a wall around their fiefdom and hope that no more businesses or residents leave? Ballwin is not likely to face a massive decline, but it's also not likely to grow anytime soon. Its population is stagnant, and there's little or no room to expand the city's corporate limits. Also, it has lost a fair amount of businesses over the last ten years or so as several retailers have concluded the grass is greener in the floodplains of Chesterfield. The advantage, of course, is a more visible location off of 64/40, but I think TIF might have more than just a bit to do with that trend as well. :wink:

At any rate, this is the kind of resistance you're going to see west of Skinker Boulevard. And east of Skinker, I suspect anyone in any position of power in city government is probably going to be reluctant to support a merger because they do not want their power diluted, or worse for them, their positions eliminated.

So I don't think it matters how good of an idea that city reentry or city-county consolidation may be, or how well Better Together's powers-that-be articulate their case. I am in favor of doing something, as 135+ years of the status quo haven't been all that kind to the city, at least not since the 1950s. I am bullish on the city's future, but I think the future here is much like the present: Anything good that happens is in spite of our government, not because of it.
Mark Groth wrote:
The suburban city of Ballwin, MO voted 7-1 (although, it was really unanimous if you read the article) to draft a resolution to tell Dooley and Slay that Ballwin wants no part of St. Louis.

Mayor Tim Pogue said he thought the reason for the merger was to "water down the crime statistics" and assist financially strapped municipalities.

"I don't feel we fit any of these," Pogue said. "I don't want to lose control of the revenue we provide our residents. I see the merger as very bad for the city. We're a very stable city."


PD's story here: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/ballwin-won-t-back-a-city-county-merger/article_59940e28-d296-5a33-9ade-28b0751d4a27.html

So of the 90 cities in the County, how many do you think will follow suit with like actions? I wonder how unincorporated areas will react? The County is a mystery to me and this will be interesting to watch unfold.


I think about 100% of the municipalities that are upper or middle class, mostly white, and have higher-quality public schools will follow suit with like actions. Meanwhile, some of the poorer ones with greater minority percentages will also follow suit with like actions, while some will not.

For whatever my prediction is worth.

threeonefour wrote:
Ballwin is not likely to face a massive decline, but it's also not likely to grow anytime soon. Its population is stagnant, and there's little or no room to expand the city's corporate limits. Also, it has lost a fair amount of businesses over the last ten years or so as several retailers have concluded the grass is greener in the floodplains of Chesterfield. The advantage, of course, is a more visible location off of 64/40, but I think TIF might have more than just a bit to do with that trend as well. :wink:


In my estimation, Ballwin is set to face significant decline over the next several years; their population is aging as boomers get older and their kids do not stick around St. Louis (and if they do, they don't stay in Ballwin). This will probably be mitigated somewhat by young families buying "starter homes" in the area, but that requires more jobs coming to the St. Louis region.
rawest1 wrote:
In my estimation, Ballwin is set to face significant decline over the next several years; their population is aging as boomers get older and their kids do not stick around St. Louis (and if they do, they don't stay in Ballwin). This will probably be mitigated somewhat by young families buying "starter homes" in the area, but that requires more jobs coming to the St. Louis region.


You may be right- I may be too optimistic. It's not exactly well-suited because of the reasons you mentioned. Perhaps the best thing it has going for it is the availability of good schools, but the same can be said for other communities in that general area. As you point out, without significant job growth, I'm not sure that's even enough to ensure the community's stability.
This is unfortunate but I'm not at all surprised. Ballwin is prosperous and isolated from many of the issues of the city and inner ring burbs.

Rawest, I don't see Ballwin declining. Any homes being vacated by boomers are being replaced by young families. If you're a young family then Ballwin is likely in your top three choices of suburbs to relocate.
moorlander wrote:
Rawest, I don't see Ballwin declining. Any homes being vacated by boomers are being replaced by young families. If you're a young family then Ballwin is likely in your top three choices of suburbs to relocate.


Is there a practical difference between Ballwin, Ellisville, Manchester, Valley Park, Clarkson Valley, or southwest Chesterfield? I'm curious as to what puts Ballwin in the "top three choices of suburbs to relocate" for young families. In addtion, I'm curious why someone might pick Ballwin over St. Charles, Maryland Heights, Olivette, Brentwood, Maplewood, or South St. Louis County.

I could be wrong, but I think all of those municipalities have at least some housing stock that's comparable in value, including access to comparable quality public schools (parts of Olivette are even served by Ladue, if I'm not mistaken).
What is weird is that they explicitly said there seems to be no reason other than lower the crime statistics and move the financial burden.
1. Isn't lowering them good?
2. I thought it was already stated the City would not combine financials with the county so the county will not pick up any burden.

So we're they just not informed when they made this decision?
I can understand the fears of merger. But It is really disappointing when local elected officials are unwilling to express the basic facts of what a city re-entry means. Essentially, one county government instead of two county governments providing the same services through consolidation and cost savings.

What seems lacking is the real civic and institutional support that you saw behind Prop A when it was very obvious what the impacts where going to be for Metro and the county/city. Here, you could have real consolidate and savings for the region from a city re-entry but no communication of the benefits or support of the facts. I don't really expect it from west county officials but every major employer in the county and city should be stating publically that a re-entry at a minimum is a good thing.

In the same breadth, wouldn't mind seeing re-entry delayed if their was a serious effort to consolidate the patchwork of muni's in the county and approach the damage that has been done by TIF's in the county. In the short term, the county has some work of its own to do.
I think they need to clearly see what is in it for them. I'm sure when St. Louis get's listed as a most dangerous city, Ballwin residents get calls from relatives in OKC, a more dangerous metro by the way, concerned for their safety out of ignorance. But this ignorance lowers property values metro-wide including Ballwin.

But more directly, I believe Ballwin residents need to see how it will enhance their quality of life, if not their pocket book. Such as county input for a better airport. Or county political influence and resources on addressing the city portion of metro crime. Or taxes lower by ____ due to consolidation of services.

Local politicians will always be against consolidation if they think it will lower their power or control. Someone with metro-wide trust and respect needs to go directly to the people, who are out ahead of local city officials on this topic.
Would you say residents in the county are afraid of folks in the city? The city seems to have this big wart under its lip that it cant get rid of.. What are residents of the county honestly afraid of? That more blacks will come into there neighborhoods. Ballwin is nice but in the long run it will start to lose its prestige along with some of the other suburban neighborhoods. Ballwin is already being infested by meth that in itself is a crime and no matter where you go crime is going to happen whether in the county city St.Charles county..Also what key retailers inhibit Ballwin to keep it stable from what the mayor said???? Im just not understanding why they were so quick to veto something down that is very important in saving this region .. When St.Louis finally goes down all of the Ballwins in the region will go down with it ...
^ I really don't think is about county individuals afraid of the city. That is political hype for political gain or retention political power.

I don't always want to go back to Prop A, but when an effective campaign of positive information and the benefits is presented to the voters by the area's respected institutions and businesses the ballot outcome is generally favorably. Metro and transit would be in much worse shape without it even though I honestly believe the Dooley/county commission has manipulated the revenues to prop up highway department instead of transit expansion. The same for Arch Grounds, county and city will see the greenway system build out accelerated and rebuilt parks even though it doesn't address the fundamental infrastructure problem of an unnecessary freeway separating downtown from the river.
^There are plenty of county official who are afraid of consolidation though. As in they would no longer have a job, or importance. Thats always been the biggest hurdle. Their ability to either frighten or persuade the masses is their weapon.
BrickCity4470 wrote:
Would you say residents in the county are afraid of folks in the city? The city seems to have this big wart under its lip that it cant get rid of.. What are residents of the county honestly afraid of? That more blacks will come into there neighborhoods. Ballwin is nice but in the long run it will start to lose its prestige along with some of the other suburban neighborhoods. Ballwin is already being infested by meth that in itself is a crime and no matter where you go crime is going to happen whether in the county city St.Charles county..Also what key retailers inhibit Ballwin to keep it stable from what the mayor said???? Im just not understanding why they were so quick to veto something down that is very important in saving this region .. When St.Louis finally goes down all of the Ballwins in the region will go down with it ...


Anecdotal, I know, but I work with a St. Charles County resident who some months back revealed that she's terrified every time she goes into the city for something like a ballgame; she certainly couldn't drive herself as she'd be petrified, and when her husband takes her in she's a nervous wreck until she gets back home. I'm sure there are more than a few in west St. Louis County who feel the same.

-RBB
I have a coworker I recently met who is new to the metro and moved with his wife from downtown Chicago to Wentzville a year ago. He chose to live all the way out there because he heard St. Louis is dangerous and was afraid to live in the city or the county. Now he complains all the time that there is nothing to do in Wentzville and is thinking about moving back to Chicago "where it's urban". Sad strange story I know but I can't seem to convince him that something is very wrong with his thinking and life would be much better if he found an apartment in the city. He is otherwise a very intelligent guy. I'd like to think this is an isolated incident but I'm sure this happens way more often than we'd like.
JuanHamez wrote:
I have a coworker I recently met who is new to the metro and moved with his wife from downtown Chicago to Wentzville a year ago. He chose to live all the way out there because he heard St. Louis is dangerous and was afraid to live in the city or the county. Now he complains all the time that there is nothing to do in Wentzville and is thinking about moving back to Chicago "where it's urban". Sad strange story I know but I can't seem to convince him that something is very wrong with his thinking and life would be much better if he found an apartment in the city. He is otherwise a very intelligent guy. I'd like to think this is an isolated incident but I'm sure this happens way more often than we'd like.


That guy is a complete tool. Chicago can have him.
I wonder if any of these people think other places are just as dangerous? I don't feel like St.Louis is dangerous unless you go getting yourself linked with the wrong person... There are many parts of the City that are vibrant and very safe ...theres been several times i gone to Chicago and felt safe and other times i didn't feel as safe.. We live in a world of danger
Can't compare to Chicago. Sure it's dangerous in certain areas, but there is a quantifiable, well-known, mass-marketed upside that takes little effort to realize. STL is Chicago's complete opposite in terms of marketing effects. Why would anyone who has had no introduction to STL think any more or less than the message that is put out there to the masses: Crime. ridden. dump......with a baseball team. That's a prominent message locally for crying out loud.

Again I think the only fair comparisons are to similarly sized metros: Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, Kansas City, where the upside gets a little more entangled with the risks (crime, a little more boring, more emphasis on raising a family instead of having the time of your life). It is STL's rep as more dangerous and worth less outside investment compared to others in its weight class that really bothers me. At some point, however, with the number of shootings and murders racking up this year, one has to wonder if we are what we are.
blzhrpmd2 wrote:
Can't compare to Chicago. Sure it's dangerous in certain areas, but there is a quantifiable, well-known, mass-marketed upside that takes little effort to realize. STL is Chicago's complete opposite in terms of marketing effects. Why would anyone who has had no introduction to STL think any more or less than the message that is put out there to the masses: Crime. ridden. dump......with a baseball team. That's a prominent message locally for crying out loud.

Again I think the only fair comparisons are to similarly sized metros: Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, Kansas City, where the upside gets a little more entangled with the risks (crime, a little more boring, more emphasis on raising a family instead of having the time of your life). It is STL's rep as more dangerous and worth less outside investment compared to others in its weight class that really bothers me. At some point, however, with the number of shootings and murders racking up this year, one has to wonder if we are what we are.


I don't mean to get off on a tangent, but every single one of the metros you mentioned is considerably smaller than St. Louis (like by 800,000 people at least). St. Louis is closer in size to Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Louisville? Not even in the same league as STL.
^Fair enough, but we are considerably smaller than Chicago (by about 6 million) which was my point. Why people compare us to Chicago for anything is senseless.

We're a lot more Louisville than Chicago from a size perspective.
Interestingly enough, having visited Cleveland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Louisville a few times each...... I would much rather St. Louis be considered in the company of KC, Cincy, Indy, and Louisville than I would Pitt, Baltimore and Cleveland.
rawest1 wrote:
Interestingly enough, having visited Cleveland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Louisville a few times each...... I would much rather St. Louis be considered in the company of KC, Cincy, Indy, and Louisville than I would Pitt, Baltimore and Cleveland.


Really? Have you been to Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland? I'd MUCH rather be in company with those cities than Indianapolis. Are you serious? INDY over PITTSBURGH?