Chesterfield has become even more playful, or worthy of kids to play in, thanks to a $333,000 municipal parks grant from the county to install a rubberized play (and landing) surface at Central Park and in the play area in Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex (on the I-64 outer road near Taubman outlets). It’s in, but what does it all mean? No. More. Mulch. While the engineered wood chips met safety standards, they weren’t easy on kids with walkers … plus, they had to be replenished often, in-between regular inspections and maintenance. Who wouldn’t be grateful for less twigs and dust on the living-room rug when the kids get home and take their shoes off? This surface will be easier on families with young’uns in strollers, too. Really big kids, and some adults, would like to know whether Chesterfield might ever consider holding a contest for swingers—on the swing sets, of course. Wouldn’t it be cool to have an award for anyone who actually swings so high they go all the way over the crossbar? C’mon, everybody. We know you’ve tried it.

[creve coeur]
And you thought only plants lived there? This just in (and a little past deadline): Tongues are wagging ’round the Lou about a $500,000 U.S. Department of Commerce grant toward proposed expansion around and about the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center that could include additional research buildings, plus a mixed-use residential and retail component. The master plan for new construction and new concepts for the center is expected to take about nine months, county officials say. The county beat out other areas of the country for the federal grant—not too shabby.

Worried about mosquitoes? You and everybody else. But ash borers? Well, that’s because some knuckleheads brought in firewood from places like Wisconsin. You wouldn’t have done something like that, would you? I mean, when you burn wood, don’t you kill unwanted pests like that? Well, yeah, except for the ones that have already escaped. Now the threat in Kirkwood—and anywhere else with a concerned garden club—is brown marmorated stink bugs, which reportedly stowed away in shipments from Asia. That’s right, blame the other side of the world for importing something we really, really don’t want. My folks used to pay my two brothers and me a penny for every Japanese beetle we collected, because they were eating up the roses. We got rich, I tell ya! We probably wouldn’t have accepted even that hefty sum for catching stink bugs, because stink bugs, true to their name, stink. To high heaven. They pack more power per gram than a skunk. But brown marmorated stink bugs? That’s probably just a sevensyllable adjective for, like, super-bad stinky.

With a name like Maplewood, how could the town not go green? The mission: to match 3 percent of its citywide energy consumption with green energy and achieve the distinction of becoming an EPA Green Power Community. This will reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 6,089,716 pounds of CO2 each year, which officials say is equivalent to taking 582 cars off the road. To participate, residents and businesses are urged to install solar or purchase ‘green tags’— Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)—to match their electricity usage with green power. A REC represents the environmental attributes and avoided emissions of the production of one megawatt-hour of green energy. Several businesses and about 60 residents have already risen to the challenge, including Schlafly Bottleworks, Foundation Grounds, The Post Sports Bar & Grill, Architectural Design Guild and Great Harvest Bread Co. Maplewood’s challenge represents a joint effort with Ameren Missouri Pure Power and St. Louis-based Microgrid Energy to encourage local businesses and homeowners to make a commitment to green power. How big a deal is this? Well, there are only about 50 other communities so designated in the country.

[town & country]
It’s almost heeere. Unless the brandspanking-new St. Louis Children’s Specialty Care Center just north of I-64 at Mason Road opened while we slept—it’s slated for its grand opening later this month. Located on the former site of state patrol district headquarters, the facility was involved in some push and pull with Town & Country officials, and the building certainly doesn’t look like the result of compromise. There’s a landscaped lake on the property’s west side, and the architecture includes colorful rectangular window treatments outside that do justice to the brightly painted animal sculptures at the main campus downtown. We have to believe BJC when it posits that the center “will be a warm and inviting space for children of all ages, supporting their physical, social and emotional needs. Families will be surrounded by an uplifting and creative environment that reduces stress, promotes healing, and provides a superior patient experience.” It’s a stunning complex, but it’s really all about the kids!

[webster groves]
Webster Arts. That just says it all, without the mouthful that was Webster Community Arts Foundation. Only the name has been changed. You should get out to Art&Air, especially considering you might not get within a mile of Saint Louis Zoo and its polar-bear debut over the weekend (per the following item). June 5 through 7 (Friday through Saturday) is the 12th iteration of the popular Webster arts fair on the grounds of Eden Seminary. As a premier regional arts festival, Art&Air draws more than 100 juried artists from around the nation and attracts crowds upward of 20,000. There will be plenty to see and buy, from watercolors to ceramics. A bellyful of food and drink will be available, as well. As always, the event is free— more pocket change for sculpture. Let’s reprise the chant from Woodstock: No rain; no rain; no rain!

[st. louis]
Kali is here! He shuffled all the way from Buffalo, and will make his public debut at the Zoo this Saturday (June 6). Actually, he was flown. Even this big critter’s fur-covered footpads might have shown some wear from that long of a trek by paw. Former resident of the zoo in Buffalo, New York, Kali is a polar bear, and will be the focus of the Zoo’s new exhibit, the $16 million McDonnell Polar Bear Point. Kali (pronounced ‘Cully’) is 2½ years old, 850 pounds and was originally orphaned in Alaska. Zoo officials hope he will be interested in girl polar bears sometime after he becomes acclimated to his new surroundings. Compared to hunting for seals on ice floes, he’ll be in the lap of luxury. He can splash in a 50,000-gallon pool or amble on a beach, all in the shadow of rock formations that look post-apocalyptic, if you will. Apt. Conserving these bears is of critical importance, Zoo officials say; by the end of this century, if global warming persists, their habitat could disappear and they could become extinct. The new exhibit is twice the size of the former, which had been home to polar bears from the 1920s through 2009. Hope, the Zoo’s last bear before Kali’s arrival, was diagnosed with liver cancer and euthanized. Zoo folk hope that Kali or another adult male will get a gleam in his eye for a female that will be introduced to his habitat sooner or later. A couple of cubs? Wow. But let’s give it time. What would be a perfect first date for Kali and his future love interest? Imo’s? Nah. Like so many happy couples in the Lou, they should spend a nice, leisurely day at the Zoo. (Pictured, above.)

[st. louis county]
Wanna buy a warehouse? A really, really big one? It may not be quite big enough to serve as the main logistics facility for a Web-based retailer of everything— like today’s department store to infinity,—but the former Stix, Baer & Fuller warehouse in Pagedale is up for grabs. And it’s ginormous. The Biz Journal reports that Hilliker Corp. is offering the complex, all 435,000 square feet of it, for $2.95 million. Or, you could lease the mid-1950s behemoth by the square foot, for about $1.50 to $2.25 per. For those out of the know, that’s, uh, a bit less than square footage for commercial space in, say, Clayton. The whole site encompasses 13 acres. What price memories? (Don’t tell us you’ve never heard of Stix. Where’d you go to high school—Chicago?)