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Name sought for former Chouteau Greenway

ST. LOUIS – A grand 20-or-so-mile paved path linking north, south, east and west deserves a grand new name, and the Great Rivers Greenway is turning to the public to find it.

The organization is asking St. Louis-area residents to submit proposals for the planned walking, biking and running path now known as the Chouteau Greenway. 

Plans are generally for the various paths of the greenway to run from Forest Park to downtown and from Fairground Park to Tower Grove Park. Originally, the plan was to run generally along Chouteau Avenue, said Emma Klues, vice president of communications and outreach for the Great Rivers Greenway.

In the 1990s, community leaders started considering the idea of the Chouteau Greenway as a way to link Forest Park and the Gateway Arch. The Great Rivers Greenway is a public agency established by voters in 2000 in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County to build greenways, healthy habitats and watersheds throughout the district. 

“Through the last two years of engagement and planning, the project has changed quite a lot,” Klues said. “Now it has connections, north, south, east and west. It’s a much different geography, and it’s not going along Chouteau at all. Besides that, it’s also hard to say or spell.” 

That’s where the search for a new name comes in.

Those wishing to submit a name can do it at https://greatriversgreenway.org/name-the-greenway/ or by texting “NAME” to 77222. The deadline is Jan. 31. 

After that, members of a steering committee and four working groups that have been studying the proposal will go through the proposals. There also probably will be a legal review and checks of copyrights, to make sure nobody else has that name.

The Great Rivers Greenway Board of Directors and others also would have to check off on the name, Klues said. 

“It’ll be in the spring when we have a new name. We don’t know exactly when,” Klues said.

Meanwhile, the Great Rivers Greenway has released a 135-page planning document giving details of the conceptual plan, Klues said.  

According to that document, four major areas of concern are equity; economic development; design, development and construction; and governance.

The category of equity along the path of the greenway includes jobs and wealth creation, quality of life and neighborhoods, identity and culture and civic and community participation. Minority workplace participation and supporting affordable housing also are important,  Klues said.

Based on what similar projects around the country could cost, the project could need about $250 million to complete, Klues said. She couldn’t predict when it might start or when it might finish. 

Typically, different phases of construction might take about two years of design and engineering. During that period, the greenway would also invite comments from neighbors in areas the greenway is passing through.

The next step of the process is getting more public comment and starting different segments. One recommendation has been to connect Fairground Park to the Central Corridor. Great Rivers Greenway may coordinate with other work, such as by Trailnet or the new soccer stadium. 

Besides the paved paths, there also may be landscaping, such as the addition of trees and bushes and restoring prairies or wetlands.

“This has an opportunity to be a very attractive place within St. Louis,” Klues said. A two-block segment of the greenway has been built in the Cortex Innovation Community.

Funds for the project might come from private money, sales taxes that support the Great Rivers Greenway, or perhaps a federal transportation grant, among other sources.

The planning document is at https://greatriversgreenway.org/making-of-a-greenway/

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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