Current Event

St. Louis hasn't built a public pool in 33 years. It might take 33 more.

"It's like someone coming to you and saying, 'Why don't you sell your house?'" seconds St. Louis Public Schools spokesman Johnny Little. "You don't have to sell your house if you don't want to. Nobody can make you sell anything."

The pool crew vows to press on. "Our focus is clearly on this Plan A: the Nottingham site," Orso says. Neither he nor Burnes will say what alternative locations they've scouted, but assuming they manage to settle on a site, they must also create a CID. And in order to do so, 51 percent of the affected property owners must agree to an annual assessment calculated according to the square footage of their property. If the group manages to collect the sufficient number of signatures, the plan must then be approved by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Downtown residents formed St. Louis' first CID in 2000; the city is now home to four: Grand Center; South Grand Boulevard at Arsenal Street; and Laclede's Landing and Gaslight Square, both of which were approved earlier this year. Burnes estimates that about 6,500 households would make up the Nottingham CID, the precise boundaries of which have not yet been drawn.

The proposed Nottingham Community Center is designed to reflect the residential architecture of St. Louis Hills.
2005 Vinci LLC
The proposed Nottingham Community Center is designed to reflect the residential architecture of St. Louis Hills.

Sixteenth Ward Alderman Donna Baringer is open to the idea. "If the voters want it," she says, "that's fine."

But do they want it? Some residents have already objected to the CID and its annual price tag. Some also worry that a recreation complex would create parking and nuisance issues.

"If I lived two blocks from here, I'd be for it," gripes David Kloud, whose Neosho Street home is adjacent to Nottingham School. "If you live next door, you get all the noise, the filth, the dirt, the traffic, the litter."

Says Burnes: "Those issues will be resolved to neighbors' satisfaction."

At least one other city neighborhood has a different solution to cooling off residents come summertime. In Lafayette Square, homeowners can join the Lafayette Square Bath & Tennis Club, a not-for-profit corporation that owns an outdoor pool and tennis court in a secluded patch of land located off a neighborhood alley. Homeowners pay a one-time fee of $1,200, plus annual fees of $250, to use the club.

And plenty of city residents rely on county facilities. University City is the latest area municipality to upgrade its recreation services. Last year U. City spent $1.6 million to renovate its outdoor aquatic center in Heman Park. This fall the city will open Centennial Commons, a $6.3 million recreation center chock-a-block with game and exercise rooms, banquet facilities, even a babysitting service.

Nonresidents can already purchase season passes to the Commons, reports parks director Nancy MacCartney. "I'm hoping we'll get people from the city of St. Louis," she says.

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