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P&Z Cries Foul Over $1 Million-Plus Parking Proposal

Members of the Kirkwood Planning and Zoning Commission voiced concerns about a proposal before the Kirkwood City Council that would substantially add parking to Downtown Kirkwood through a $1.25 million dollar purchase.

An emergency vote called by the Sept. 22 approved a proposal to buy the old Mel Bay Music Center of the Kirkwood Building at 113 West Jefferson Ave. and property at 107 West Jefforson to develop additional parking in Downtown Kirkwood, city council member Gerry Biedenstein told Kirkwood Patch.

But the proposal never received a review or recommendation from the Kirkwood Planning and Zoning Commission.

Several commissioners expressed concerns about being left out of the loop on the purchase that would cost the city $1.25 million and have a significant impact on parking in Downtown Kirkwood.

The purchase was something that should have been reviewed and approved by their commission before the city council called a vote, planning and zoning commissioner Greg Frick said at the commission's regular meeting Wednesday night.

"I feel we were totally passed over in the process," Frick said. "This lot is a part of a larger plan to address a supposed parking problem, and I would think that falls under the purview of this body."

Frick went on to call the planned parking endeavor a "band-aid on a gushing wound." Commissioner Nancy Luetzow told the commission she sent a letter to all city council members expressing her concerns.

"Do we have a parking problem? Is there information out there?" Luetzow asked the commission. "I have sent a letter to the council about this. I think there hasn't been an appropriate study into this issue. Let's not just throw together these things for no reason."

Frick told the commission there were studies done, but that little input had been requested by council before they made the decision. "The information is certainly there, we have it, but it feels like there was a rush to get things done."

Commissioner Joe Roeser said there was a concern the space would eventually be used to construct a city parking lot, and that too much of the process has ignored Planning and Zoning.

"If, as some rumors I've heard might suggest, there is a bigger plan here especially, I think we need to be included," Roeser said. "It hasn't been brought to us as it should be."

Biedenstein, city council liaison to the commission, was not present at the Sept. 22 emergency vote, and told commissioners he would be relaying "every word" of their concerns to the council.

Biedenstein said the emergency vote was held at 7:30 p.m. on Sept 22 and that he requested it be moved to 7 p.m., so that he could attend. The meeting was held as scheduled. Biedenstein and council member Bob Sears both missed the vote.

City council has approved the purchasing contracts, but has not yet voted on allocating funds for the purchase. A vote on funding for the purchase will take place Thursday night at the regular meeting of the Kirkwood City Council at 7 p.m. in council chambers. If funding is not approved the purchase, contracts will be void, according to councilwoman Gina Jaksetic.

Jaksetic said she applauded the concerns of the Planning and Zoning Commission and told Kirkwood Patch there would be an "active discussion" at the city council meeting.

Christie October 07, 2011 at 02:03 AM
The P&Z Commission felt left out? Kind of like the residents affected by the proposed Mobil expansion at Geyer and Manchester?
salsaf October 07, 2011 at 02:06 PM
Yes, process is important. But "supposed" parking problem and "do we have a parking problem?" - give me a break! Do you ever try to park & go to a restaurant on Thursday - Saturday in DT Kirkwood? Wasn't there a restaurant deal pending that just dissolved because of parking? How many parking studies have to be done (and at what cost) over the years? Build it right with buffers and landscape; think about the town's future instead of territorial gridlock so common in this town and region! Restaurants and shops will go away with their customers to places where they can park and then there will be no parking problem or even a "supposed" parking problem!
laurie October 07, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Everything gets done so slowly here. Isn't there a protocol about who to contact and necessary steps to take and people to educate beFORE people on one board get their feelings hurt because people on another board didn't include them soon enough? Just get it out there for people to follow. And yes, by golly...Kirkwood has a parking problem...and it just increases the risk of fender benders with all of the disorderly parking spaces...
Susan Hartman October 10, 2011 at 09:56 PM
I thought that the parking garages at Station Plaza were designed to alleviate Kirkwood's parking problems, but they are not being used. So now the city must finance the destruction of two fine buildings for the convenience of diners who feel put upon to have to walk to their destination. I frequent the downtown restaurants and am fortunate to be able to arrive before 5:00 - no parking problems. But, to accommodate the restaurant owners, more of Kirkwood's unique character will be destroyed. This is so diners will have nearby parking from the hours of 5 to 9-10 in the evenings! Restaurant owners, instead of hiring parking valets and complaining, organize and hire a shuttle and driver to make a loop from Station Plaza to Adams and make visitors to Kirkwood AWARE of the parking garages. I'm firmly against this plan.

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