Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Towns: 2.17.16

university city
The Pageant in U. City has a capacity of 2,000. The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill can hold 340. And now, as entrepreneurs Joe Edwards and Pat Hagin announced in the headline to a recent news release, they’re ‘having a baby!’ A new concert venue, that is, for the east side of The Loop, east of Skinker: Delmar Hall, an 800-seat venue. A fall premiere is planned for the duo’s ‘middle child,’ as it were. (But … a baby? We’re at least acquainted with each of these rock stars, and are pretty sure there isn’t some weird sort of bromance going on here.) Groundbreaking on the 10,000-square-foot, $2.5-million space is slated for April. It will start in the footprint (skinny tire tracks?) of Big Shark Bicycle Co., 6133 Delmar Blvd., which will be pedaling off from right across The Pageant lot to a new location yet to be disclosed. Now, what to do about parking? The city garage directly across from the Tivoli already could stand to have about five more levels built on top. Anyhoo, Edwards and Hagin have operated The Pageant since 2000. Before that, Hagin ran and booked talent for the late, lamented Mississippi Nights concert hall on Laclede’s Landing for almost 20 years.

maplewood
Maple.2-17-2016Whither doth thou goest, Maplewood? Into the streets! Even though its wonderful tagline is, ‘somewhere between Mayberry and Metropolis,’ Maplewood has been selected as the location for this fall’s annual Shakespeare in the Streets production by the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. It will be interesting to watch from the sidewalks as the troupe tells unique stories of the community through a Shakespearean play Sept. 17-19. That might be a little late for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but we just don’t see this cute little ‘burb as a vehicle for the likes of Hamlet or Macbeth. So; A Latesummer Night’s Dream, anyone?

webster groves
Even though they’d hired a search firm to help, the board of education in the Webster Groves School District didn’t have to look very far to find a replacement for Sarah Booth Riss, the superintendent who is retiring at the end of June. John Simpson, presently the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, will start July 1. Simpson, 43, holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Maryville University, a master’s degree in education administration and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. He has been an assistant superintendent since 2009. Before that, he was principal at Hudson School in Rock Hill. The Webster students, staff and community members participated in developing a leadership profile for the candidates and interviewed the finalists. Simpson comes to this position in lean times, when Webster had to make $1.6 million in cuts for the 2015-16 school year. The district, as do many, faces severe financial challenges. The two most recent bond issues were defeated at the polls, leading to layoffs of teachers and staff. Before the cuts, Riss had handed the board president a check for $4,000, which was to have been her salary increase in the last year of her contract. She makes more than $200,000, but to keep it in perspective: some superintendents in the metro make upwards of $250,000 a year.

st. charles
This just in! There is now clean water in Jaxson Estates, a Wentzville subdivision in western St. Charles County. But in truth, there always has been clean water, since it’s piped in there. This isn’t Flint, Mich., after all! Despite flooding in the area recently, nobody has to run out to buy Dasani or some other water to be safe. Actually, this was a minor story that Missouri American Water Co. released through a PR wire about it taking over the water supply for the neighborhood’s 75 customers from a realty company—no biggie, except that it’s a stark contrast to Flint and what happens when things like this aren’t resolved correctly.

st. louis
NYC has five boroughs. And a certain county government veteran believes that The Lou could have nine. NINE?! Yes, nine. Here’s a novel idea in an atmosphere of them-versus-us in the city-county merger squabble (although it’s been pointed out that the borough concept may have been floated at least once before). The inter-webs are rife with folks from the metro, plus anywhere but here (like reddit.com; ‘the front page of the Internet’), who think our local-local-local system of municipal government and essential-services delivery is nothing short of nuts, not to mention wasteful. Gene McNary, county exec from 1975 to 1989, with his son Cole penned an op-ed that ran in our daily paper last month, and the more we thought about it, the more we figured we just had to weigh in. The McNary boroughs would be equally weighted by population and be divided along lines already established by county council district boundaries. The city would comprise two of the boroughs, with I-44 as the dividing line and, because of population density, be more populous. Y’know, this seems to be a very tasty idea, especially if you think of the boroughs as strips of bacon … or, slices of pizza, more like. Well, to be absolutely fair, I guess that means each borough would have to include an equal number of Imo’s, since there’s really no way you can distribute squares of pizza equitably in this model for reallocating resources. Papa John’s stores would fit in more better, wouldn’t they? (No money was accepted under the table for that mention, neither was a lifetime supply of pizza.) And each would also have to include an equal number of Bread Company bakeries, Starbucks and Wehrenberg theaters. The city and county library systems also would have to merge, wouldn’t they? Well? Plenty of money will have been expended by the time anything could ever be done about redrawing the lines already established by suburban growth and the retrenchment of city and county neighborhoods big and small, for richer or poorer. There’d be the issue of equitably dividing sales taxes—which point-of-sale cities like Chesterfield, one of the largest among our current 90-odd municipalities, would immediately file suit over. Fenton and Richmond Heights might get to sharpening sabers, too. Jiminy Christmas! Life’s not fair, people. Roots have grown all over the StL, like it or not. New or old, some of them are very well established. Does that mean we believe in the status quo? Or that we think some of them need to be ripped out? Not necessarily. But that sunflower you so enjoyed last summer? It might have sprouted from a dropping left behind by a visitor to some neighbor’s bird feeder.

Pictured: Delmar Hall in University City

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