CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOX) – It was standing room only in a jam-packed St. Louis County Council chambers Tuesday night, with a sea of green being worn by opponents of that proposed 40-acre ice hockey complex in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.
A vast majority of the 34 people who signed up to speak during the public comment period wanted to vent their anger about the project.
“Our county has 335,000 acres of land,” pointed out opponent Ted Heisel. “But you guys are telling us, and the proponents of this project are telling us, this is the only spot that this can go — 40 acres in Creve Coeur park.”
Opponents outnumbered supporters by a 10-to-1 margin during the public comment session, but Legacy Ice Foundation chair Patrick Quinn said despite the lopsided showing at the meeting a recent public comment period reflected plenty of support.
“Where 78% of the respondents were in favor of this project,” he told council members. “We believe that the county leadership has shown over the years that it needs to develop things for its people.”
Andy Hudson was another supporter.
“This will create the ability to attract regional, national and international events which should have a significant positive economic impact on the entire region,” he said.
Speaker Mitch Leachman was incensed that work already appears to be underway on the site, despite the fact the project still needs approval from state and federal parks officials.
“Sadly, county officials are not being honest with the St. Louis community about the construction currently underway at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial park,” said Leachman.
Council chairman Sam Page indicated that was news to him.
“Some of these things I’m hearing tonight are very interesting to me,” he explained. “I can tell you that a lot of us on the council are pretty upset with the explanation we got for what was happening at Creve Coeur park, and we’re going to be digging in to this.”
He drew loud applause from ice plex opponents by suggesting that any clearing of trees and brush on the land in question be halted pending further investigation.
Also during Tuesday night’s meeting, council members unanimously adopted a resolution designed to fine tune how dollars raised by Prop P, the half-cent sales tax approved county-wide in April, should be spent.
That resolution, to be drafted as a county ordinance on Wednesday, encourages all area city leaders to approach the issue “mindful of the will of the people”.
“We’re proud that as St. Louis County we’re going to take the lead and let everyone know how this money was to be spent and what the intent was from the beginning, and exactly how it was advertised from the beginning,” said 7th District councilman and resolution sponsor Mark Harder.
Some municipalities have indicated that because Prop P was designed to raise money for police “and public safety”, that gives them leeway to consider using their share of the revenue on things like fixing potholes.