Talk of the Towns: 10.15.14

Disappointing a Catholic parish—but making at least one atheist happy—Ballwin’s city council has put the kibosh on the ‘In God We Trust’ sign that had been proposed for the wall behind the dais in the council chambers. Proponents of the four words, including the Knights of Columbus at Holy Infant Catholic Church, said the words represent patriotism, not religion. Begging to differ, atheist Nikki Moungo recently made an impassioned plea before the council. Her main point was that the sign would create controversy where none has existed; in essence, why invite trouble? Aldermen voted 6-2 not to accept the K of C’s $750 donation to install the 12 letters, which have been stamped on the nation’s coinage since 1864 and have been the nation’s motto since 1956. But it isn’t the city’s motto—that’s ‘Bringing People Together.’ For residents like Moungo, that and the failed proposal would have been at cross purposes. Nationwide, that seems to be the case for most municipalities where the issue hasn’t passed muster. But it has in at least one town in the metro: The phrase has been approved for a number of government facilities in St. Peters. Meanwhile, what happens to the rejected $750 donation in Ballwin? Well, shrubbery looks nice, and it’s not too expensive.


The familiar cyclist icons on pavement are expanding throughout the metro as new bicycle lanes are being created in the StL. These continue to augment routes previously established in the county, from close-in suburbs like Clayton out to Kirkwood. Great Rivers Greenway and Trailnet reps joined Hizzoner Francis Slay in announcing that 40 additional miles of bicycle lanes will be available and clearly marked in the city by next spring. In this, the third phase of the Bike St. Louis initiative that got underway in 2004, the 60 miles of route already established also will be marked afresh. Our emphasis here is on fresh, as in refreshing. The regional approach represented by the cooperation of various agencies truly is making The Lou and its environs more bike-friendly, from repurposing a once-idled train trestle in the city to former railroad right-of-way in Clayton and Kirkwood. It really doesn’t need a great deal of money to back pedal power. Inter-jurisdictional cooperation is critical, of course, to developing seamless transition from one community to the next. But more important is increasing understanding between citizens who travel on two and four wheels (see Sunset Hills item). In some ways, cyclists and drivers have a mutual distrust reminiscent of U.S. relations with the former Soviet Union. Détente helped that. But for the love to spread here, all you need is paint.

[creve coeur]
Every town endures growing pains of one sort or another, and for Creve Coeur, it comes with a ‘drive-thru’ lane. At present, McDonald’s is the only drive-through restaurant in town, but several others are in line at city hall, either to build or to retrofit existing buildings. The city’s planning and zoning body is mulling over a global approach to the issue, rather than handling each request piecemeal, which just seems to make sense in an ounce-of-prevention framework. Creve Coeur is considering, among other things, reducing the plot size a drive-through restaurant may occupy from 3 to 2 acres. The establishment would need to be situated no fewer than 50 feet from the nearest residential property line. Does this mean that many more such restaurants will be able to move into town? Actually, maybe not. At this juncture in the ordinance-crafting process, there are restrictions aplenty, e.g.; the restaurants would be stand-alone only if another commercial building also occupies the property, or would need to be part of a strip center that includes no other restaurants. Earlier this year, Panera Bread’s request for changes to its existing restaurant was denied. Opponents, of course, fear an eventual glut of fast-food joints and the concomitant increase in traffic and noise. Begs the question: Just how many more of the same-old, same-old comfort-food eateries does the metro really need?

Is your workout routine getting a little flabby? Research by Gold’s Gym says it probably is. According to Gold’s, October is the month with the lowest number of gym check-ins, which has led the fitness chain to help you (or anyone) pick up the pace, or get started. As an incentive, Gold’s is opening all gyms nationwide for free every weekend of October. (Gold’s has a number of area locations, including 2601 State Highway K in O’Fallon.) Here are a few tips from fitness expert Jamie Eason, who helped with the Gold’s research:

>> Seasonal change—As summer gives way to fall, the weather and workouts cool down, easing up on the regimen associated with maintaining a firm, trim physique.
>> Earlier nightfall—With daylight waning and clocks falling back, motivation flags and people can become less active.

Gold’s knows that for some, it’s going to be a mad rush to maintain a fit appearance closer to the holidays. Some may relax until a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Others might start hibernating now, maybe to awaken just in time to start another New Year’s resolution.

[st. louis]
A new Rooster is crowing on grand South Grand in St. Louis. For fans of the crêperie at 1104 Locust St. downtown, this is a welcome addition. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, George Takei would probably say, ‘Oh myyy.’ The space, festooned with the fowl whimsy of roosters painted by elementary school kids, is large enough to seat a regiment. A repurposed and expanded bank building that had lain a-rusting for years at 3150 S. Grand Blvd., the restaurant is right at home among the eclectic offerings that stretch from Arsenal south to Humphrey: Three Vietnamese places, two Thai, one pan-Asian, an Italian, plus various eateries that represent most anywhere else around the planet, from Moroccan and Ethiopian fare to the all- American City Diner. For those not in the know (your trusty scribe was included), Rooster is another brainchild of David Bailey, prime mover of Bailey’s Chocolate Bar, Small Batch, The Fifth Wheel and Bailey’s Range. (Although you’d think the surname would have given away two of them.) Lovers of the Locust location should be encouraged by the Grand spot’s hours of operation: 7 a.m.-10 p.m., a full seven hours later than the flagship location (it shutters at 3). And this raises the bar even higher for eating too much on Sunday morning in and around Tower Grove Park, what with the likes of bodacious brunches at Moab’s and Piper Palm House.

[sunset hills]
Mark Furrer, mayor of Sunset Hills, has been charged with two felonies for the July altercation with a racing cyclist who some have termed a road-rage incident. Furrer was charged with first-degree property damage and second-degree assault. Cyclists nationwide have been up in arms since the mayor’s Mercedes allegedly ran cyclist Randy Murdick off Gravois Road, rupturing his Achilles tendon and seriously damaging his expensive racing bicycle. Sunset Hills police, who did not ticket the mayor, turned the investigation over to county police. Once the story went viral via social media, Furrer was deluged with calls and emails from an angry cycling community; locally, hundreds rode to city hall a few days afterward to raise ‘Share the Road’ awareness. Not surprisingly, Murdick’s and Furrer’s stories differ significantly. The write-in mayor claims Murdick ran a stop sign and fell after grabbing onto the car; Murdick claims Furrer shouted an obscenity and swerved, forcing him to lose his balance. About the only thing both admit to is using colorful language. Murdick’s attorney reportedly said he was expected to be out of action for a month after he fell. Since prosecutors announced the charges, at least one alderman has called for Furrer to step down. If convicted of a felony, he would be required by law to do so.

[town & country]
Bullying, although often called other things, is still bullying. At schools, when practiced by fraternities or athletic teams, it’s called hazing. Although not condoned by organizations most anywhere nowadays—allegedly—it goes on, much to the chagrin of educators, administrators, parents, and young people who want to ‘belong.’ At The Principia, a private secondary school in Town & Country, police were called in August to investigate an assault, which cops characterized as an incident of hazing. Although authorities at the school have been mum in the media, parents say the school got word out to the school community posthaste. Police say their investigation is complete and that the matter has been presented to county prosecutors for review. Reportedly as many as five kids are in hot water over the incident, as well they should be. Hazing ranges from harmless pranks to bodily harm. Nearly anyone who has endured it wouldn’t characterize it as amusing. Such ‘rites of passage’ are antiquated. And if an assault or other crime has been committed, it should be prosecuted as such.

Gate-gate, maybe they should call it. That is, to some folks in particular communities, it’s a big hairy deal. To others, it’s like, meh. Wildwood recently held a public hearing on gated communities, an issue about which residents of most of the towns we talk about have little or no concern. (Must be nice. I know, right?) For the last two decades, there has been a ban in the city. But now city officials are considering allowing gated committees, under certain conditions. The pros and cons both boil down to safety. For some residents, gates would be a hindrance to burglars, creeps and other strangers who would enter their neighborhoods. Essentially, it’s for the kids. Public-safety officials also look at safety, but from the other side of the gate. Sometimes it’s not easy to access a gated community quickly in case of a fire or other emergency.

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