No Casino at Chain of Rocks

The City of St. Louis is backing a plan for a casino complex to be built at the foot of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in North St. Louis.  The proposal, called Casino Celebration, has been submitted to the Missouri Gaming Commission by local development firm Koman Properties. The Commission hopes to make a decision regarding the location and granting of the 13th Missouri casino license by the end of this year.

Far North City Neighborhood
The placement of a casino complex at the Chain of Rocks Bridge would forever alter the character of this unique neighborhood.  This narrow strip of the City of St. Louis offers:

  • The Old Chain of Rocks pedestrian bridge, the historic Route 66 crossing of the Mississippi
  • The Chain of Rocks Park, the City park which overlooks the Chain of Rocks Bridge, the waterworks and its historic and iconic river intake towers
  • The North Riverfront Park, which provides access to the only stretch of barge-free Mississippi river from St. Paul to the Gulf and allows people to experience the river as a place of natural beauty – away from industrial & commercial development. 
  • And The Riverfront Bike Path, part of the interconnected system of greenways, parks and trails that encircles the St. Louis region.

AND, the area is surrounded by a quiet, peaceful City neighborhood – one that may have been easily overlooked by politicians and decision-makers in the past, but no longer! 

Our City leaders

The application process happened fairly fast, and provided no official opportunity for public input prior to the City’s backing of this proposal.  St Louis Development Corporation believes that the 13th license belongs to them since the loss of the President Casino. Great Rivers Greenway and Trailnet have agreements with the Komans for rights-of-way for the North Riverfront Bike Trail and the Chain of Rocks pedestrian bridge and therefore cannot publicly oppose the proposal. All of this, however, has not stopped many people from voicing their concerns publicly and to the Gaming Commission.

Impact to the Area
Many question whether our City leaders have really thought this through.  Is this the type of responsible development that our riverfront deserves?

  • The City of St. Louis, along with other public and private partners, has already invested in the area’s unique promise. Just months ago, the City spent over $100,000 and passed a North Riverfront Park Master Plan that recognizes the desire to enhance the current aesthetics and amenities in the Park while maintaining its unique setting along the river. And don’t forget the Riverfront Trail Master Plan which specifically calls for limiting development in the area to uses compatible with conservation and related recreation.
  • The area is in the center of one of the largest migratory bird corridors in America and home to many nesting bald eagles in winter months.
  • St. Louis City’s water intake from the Mississippi River is located immediately down river and adjacent to the proposed casino. Parking lot run-off, accidental spills, waste disposal and increased demands on sewer lines represent some, but not all, of the potential and serious threats to the safety of our city’s supply of drinking water.
  • Riverview Drive, along which the casino would be located, is a narrow, but vital, connecting route for our City and region. The street, which is primarily a two lane road in a residential neighborhood, is prone to flash flooding and difficult to maintain. It is also a major commuter route between downtown and the northern bi-state region and the only currently viable trucking route between our City’s northern industrial area on Hall Street and U.S. Interstate 270. Safety, maintenance and infrastructure issues would need serious attention should traffic be increased 24/7.
  • City, county, state and yes, tourists from far and near come to this unique area just below the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Bikers, bird watchers, runners, and hikers cross the restored Chain of Rocks bridge. When they built the look-out on the bridge, were they really hoping for a casino view?
  • And, lastly, there are already six casinos in the metropolitan region. Can the area really support yet another casino without cannibalizing the already existing entities? Is this good business for the region as a whole?

A 24/7 casino just doesn’t make sense for this area. Why not enhance the amenities that already attract people to visit? Put in a bicycle rental shop, full service rest station – even a restaurant – where people can come to experience the Mississippi up close and personal. This makes a lot more sense than a neon-lit, windowless concrete and mortar structure surrounded by parking lots and garages.

What You Can Do
If you agree, please write the Missouri Gaming Commission at 3417 Knipp Drive, PO  Box 1847, Jefferson City, MO 65102. They plan to make their decision before the end of the year – and most probably in November – so please act now! Visit the No Chain of Rocks Casino website to get information about how you can also help by participating in a group photo this Saturday October 23rd as well as read a copy of the neighborhood’s Statement to the Gaming Commission.