Forest Park May Pass On Adding More Park Land

On May 20th, St. Louis Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Gary Bess presented to the Forest Park Advisory Board the issue of restoring a MoDOT land parcel to Forest Park. The parcel in question is land made available by the removal of the cloverleaf interchange at Kingshighway as part of the New I-64 project. Although no formal vote was taken, the idea reportedly received little support.

MoDOT has offered not only the land that was once part of Forest Park, but also additional land made available by the I-64 project, adjacent to the original park boundary. Objections were said to generally be centered on maintenance costs. If the Parks Department ultimately decides not to accept the property, MoDOT will seek to sell it for development.

Complicating any sale or development is the issue of where the original park boundary lies and what can be done with land that was once part of Forest Park. In addition to that base issue, the status of land that was once Forest Park, but controlled by MoDOT for decades remains in question. Does MoDot have the right to sell the land or must it be returned to Forest Park? Is the City Parks Department obligated to accept it? If so, the land would appear to be subject to Prop A, a measure that requires any sale or lease of parkland or the addition of any buildings that are not "customarily associated with park use" to put approved by a majority of city voters. 

Although there has been no news for months, a Drury Hotel proposal has been presented to the Forest Park Southeast community. The Forest Park Southeast community has not taken a stance on the land. Hudlin Park amenities are being moved to the south side of Clayton Avenue, a new Chouteau Park has been planned for the neighborhood and two pocket parks as well as the Adams School playground and baseball field are located in Forest Park Southeast. There's divided opinion as to whether additional park land is needed.

This corner of Forest Park was the site of the park's dedication on June 24, 1876, reportedly attended by 50,000 of the city's 300,000 residents at the time. Is such history worthy of a monument? Should the park be required to accept the land? What's the highest use for the land?

Below are aerial images of the southeast corner of Forest Park from 1958 and 1971. The third image shows the park and highway today with an approximation of the newly available land that has been offered to Forest Park.

{southeast corner of Forest Park – 1958}

{southeast corner of Forest Park – 1971}

{2010 – showing newly available land, blue=original Forest Park, yellow=new land}

{rendering of proposed Drury Hotel development}

{a view of the land following the New I-64 project}