After months of fighting, plans for an ice rink in Creve Coeur Park were canceled last week. The Blues appear to have a new location for a proposed practice facility, so what is going to happen to the 40 acres of bulldozed land in Creve Coeur Park?
The land has been seeded and there are no other plans for the area, according to a spokesperson for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
But, after fending off developers from building an ice complex, members of the Creve Coeur Park Coaltion said just planting grass is not enough.
Straw covers the plot of Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park that was once slated for an ice facility.
And local naturalists are frustrated.
“We had habitat here, we had birds, we had butterflies, we had large trees,” said Mitch Leachman is a member of the Creve Coeur Coalition and Director of the St. Louis Audubon Society. “The land was an open field with a few acres of mature trees.”
Then came bulldozers and more land changes, until the St. Louis County Council and National Park Service demanded work to halt.
Developers, St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and County Executive Steve Stenger said the land is in better shape now.
Basins and elevated land are some of the measures they said distribute flood waters so the land can be used by the public.
But Leachman said that misses a major point.
“It had value for the open the green space that it was,” he said.
St. Louis County resident Bradley Shutes and other supporters of the park know the trees won't be back soon.
"It is depressing to know what was once here and now is not,” Shutes said. “I’d like to see some tall grass and some prairie and extension of some trail.”
But they would like more than grass seed and straw.
A spokesperson for St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said he expects there to be public meetings and discussion on whether or how to change the land.
Leachman said he and other members of the coalition are ready to work with the County to put together a plan for the plot’s future.
Park coalition lawyers said it will likely be the county and its taxpayers that pick up the tab, but they are still researching the money issue.
ST. LOUIS LEGACY ICE FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE (November 10, 2017):
ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation announced today it is now exploring a Maryland Heights location for the St. Louis Ice Center, thereby bringing closure to the original plan for the complex at Creve Coeur Lake Park.
Representatives from the Legacy Ice Foundation and St. Louis Blues today met with and personally thanked St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and his staff for their vision and commitment to the Creve Coeur Lake Park project, noting that uncertainty due to delays by the National Park Service - coupled with the urgent need for additional ice to answer the demand throughout the St. Louis region - necessitated exploring an alternate, yet very attractive, site in Maryland Heights.
"Our experiences with the National Park Service and the associated delays remain disappointing, but the good news is we have another spectacular site in Maryland Heights here in St. Louis County," said Patrick Quinn, President of the St. Louis Legacy Ice Foundation. "We look forward to building a complex that we need and deserve. The location changes, but our vision remains the same."
"County Executive Stenger and his staff were superb partners through this entire process and we appreciate their understanding of our need to keep this project on track and on pace," added Chris Zimmerman, CEO and President of the St. Louis Blues. "Today's news represents a continuation of our commitment to support youth and amateur ice sports in the St. Louis region, and we are optimistic that it will be located in Maryland Heights, still in St. Louis County, where it can best serve our region. It's good news all around."
Stenger noted that all commitments to improving the former Creve Coeur Park site are being honored and stated his continued commitment of support for the facility.
"Exploring a new location in Maryland Heights has my complete support, as do the people from the Legacy Ice Foundation and the St. Louis Blues who first brought us the opportunity to imagine what might be possible at the Creve Coeur Lake Park location," Stenger said. "There would only be regret if the project were not to happen at all. But it appears that will not be the case. Be assured that I will offer any assistance I can as we see this project transition from paper to reality."
The four-sheet, regional recreation center will be the home for a wide variety of ice sports, amateur and college ice hockey uses, youth tournaments and the practice facility for the St. Louis Blues. The development effort on behalf of the Ice Center will be led by Summit Development.