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Chesterfield moves ahead with parks master plan, approves garden site

The Chesterfield City Council has decided to proceed with updating its master plan for city parks and has approved a new location for the city’s community garden.

The council earlier had delayed acting on the parks master plan project despite having approved funds for it in the 2017 budget. Concerns centered on the cost, whether the updating was needed and the view that the work could be handled by city staff.

In a subsequent report, Tom McCarthy, Chesterfield’s director of parks, recreation and arts, explained that while having a master plan was not essential to receiving a municipal park grant from St. Louis County, having a current one enhanced the city’s score when applying for such funding. Although budgeted funds for the project were not used in 2017, projected expenditures again were used in developing the 2018 budget, McCarthy observed, and no additional funding or appropriation is being requested.

McCarthy had noted that the work involved in a master plan is detailed and complex and it is most cost-effective to use an experienced consulting firm than to hire the additional staff needed for the job.

Councilmember Ben Keathley [Ward 2] said his thoughts on the project had changed since 2017. The cost of a master plan isn’t cheap but it’s much less than what the city could lose if it failed to receive a parks grant due to a lower score on its application, Keathley pointed out. It’s also good to have an outside firm’s opinion, he added.

City staff earlier had opened proposals from a number of consulting firms and had recommended Pros Consulting, Inc., for the project. The council voted unanimously to award a contract to the Indianapolis-based firm at a price not to exceed $60,000.

The Parks, Recreation and Arts Committee recommended using up to $8,500 from the parks reserve fund to pay for establishing a new community garden site and the council unanimously agreed.

The former garden location was located on ground that has been sold. The fact that the new site is just north of the old one makes an exodus of current plot holders unlikely, city officials believe, but there is a waiting list if any vacancies occur.

Fencing and other supplies from the original garden will be used at the new site, east of Burkhardt on the eastern side of Chesterfield Parkway.

As with the old location, the new garden is on land owned by Sachs Properties, which has allowed the city to use the tract for the next several years or until the site is slated for development.

Those using plots in the garden pay the city a rental fee. During the past two years, that income has totaled $4,050.

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