Letters to the Editor

Keith Douchant

DEMOLITION MAN

To the Mayor and the Editor:
When I read the article in The Riverfront Times that explained how Bob Cassilly had actually gone to you with a plan and $250,000 earnest money ("What About Bob's Plan?" RFT, Jan. 20), I was shocked and appalled to learn that (1) you did not listen to him and (2) you didn't just hand him the keys to the Arena and let him get to work on it.

What are you thinking, man? It seems pretty clear to me, after spending countless hours in the City Museum with my children this past year, that Bob Cassilly knows what he's doing.

If he'd scratched out a design on a cocktail napkin it would have been a better idea than the one this city is currently entertaining: tearing down a historically significant wonderful building full of memories for thousands of St. Louisans to put up what? An office park. Are you kidding me?

This idea doesn't just border on incompetence, it is an outrage! Look, Mr. Mayor, I worked long and hard several years ago canvassing the city on your behalf to get you elected, and I expected more of you than this. The last thing we need is another empty rental shell or, worse, another parking lot.

Give us all a break and let Bob Cassilly do something creative with the Arena. Please.

Bonnie Kruger

To the Editor:
Great cities are not built by committee but rather through bold singular vision relentlessly pursued. I am not a native of St. Louis; I have no memories of the Arena. Yet when I look on it I see a structure that other cities I have known would cherish and hold aloft as a unique monument to their history and, inherently, their perseverance. The feeling of endurance that every square foot of a great city offers up is the result of one layer of history built upon another. Cities are not created like the manufactured suburban developments, earth scraped clean with freshly planted homes, forever new and forever thin.

Bob Cassilly is right in stating that the Arena is part of the fabric of the city and that to tear it down is to destroy what cannot be replaced at any cost. And why irrevocably bulldoze? No solid proposal exists for the land, no tenant. It is both a nonsensical business mistake and a savage attack on the very landmarks that the city must hold in trust.

I live next to the City Museum, and while I have never met Mr. Cassilly, I have watched it being built as people wondered out loud what would be the fate of such an outlandish venture. Now I find myself navigating the endless traffic it brings and occasionally directing the errant minivan filled with children, who are probably making their first trip into the true city. The value of such an institution is beyond measure, and make no mistake, in this city such willful vision is our scarcest resource. It is clear that the plans for demolition of the Arena are plans made in the absence of vision -- an attempt to erase the symbol of a lack of leadership which has brought the city to this point.

Cassilly's plan is still fresh, and may be filled with unresolved decisions, but I would submit to you that a brilliant plan imperfectly executed will leave this city far richer than another vacant lot, another reminder of greatness deferred, of opportunity silenced. St. Louis should demand to have this idea heard in earnest and perhaps let the seeds sowed in this city's past blossom again.

Kurt Perschke

MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS

To the Editor:
Melinda Roth did a wonderful job of bringing to light a serious and compelling issue in her article "Milky Way" in the Jan. 20 RFT. It is my hope that many citizens take her arguments seriously and contact their state representatives. Rep. Dougherty's bill deserves bipartisan support and a quick passage.

It is a travesty that we as a society are allowing our misguided sense of modesty and decorum to cause shame and embarrassment to mothers nourishing their infants. Our over-eroticization of the breast has encouraged us to forget its biological function. It is sad to realize that in this day and age, with our high level of medical understanding of the necessity of breast-feeding, that we allow nursing mothers to be so mistreated. One can only imagine that if men lactated that there would be a breast-pumping policy on record in every major corporation and that breast-feeding education would be covered by every health-insurance company.

Breast-feeding is only one example of how our negative sexualized view of the body is bad for both individuals and society. I find it extremely sad that parents with opposite-sex children are subject to rude comments and glances when taking the children into the restroom of the parent's gender. The same problem arises for family members who must care for an elderly or disabled person of the opposite sex. We as a community must put aside our own uneasiness about the body and make an effort to accommodate the bodily needs of all our citizens, both young and old.

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