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Santa and Mrs. Claus Coming to St. Louis Hills Nov. 29th!

Join the St. Louis Hills Neighborhood Association and Friends of Francis Park for a Santa Parade through the neighborhood on Sunday, November 29, beginning at 1 pm. 

Although there will be no Tree Lighting Ceremony this year due to COVID-19, Santa and Mrs. Claus still want to see all of you! They will be riding the following route, from 1-2 pm, and we encourage everyone to step outside and wave hello to our visitors from the North Pole! Of course, masks and social distancing are strongly encouraged, so please no large groups on the route, and Santa will be making note of who is being naughty and who is being nice.

For everyone’s safety, we ask that you please not approach Santa’s sleigh as it drives by. Also, this event will be weather permitting, and a final decision in the event of inclement weather will be posted by 12 pm on 11/29.

For questions, please contact Rob Curtin at jrcurtin3@gmail.com

Thank you all, and Happy Holidays!

Reporting issues to the Citizens’ Service Bureau improves your neighborhood… and can save you money

by Chip Kastner

Our neighbor texted us back in August with a picture of a large tree branch lying across the back left of my car.  There’s a tree across the street that’s had some dangerous-looking branches for awhile, and even though it was a clear, calm day, one of them decided to break free.

My wife called the Citizens’ Service Bureau (CSB) at 314-622-4800.  Someone came out later in the day to remove the large branch, and told my wife that someone would be in contact with us about the damage to our car.

Sure enough, about two weeks after the incident, my wife received a call from a blocked phone number.  She answered the phone, and it ended up being an employee of the St. Louis City Counselor’s Office.

He explained that although the city is responsible for upkeep of trees between the sidewalk and curb, the city doesn’t automatically accept liability for any downed branch from one of these trees; sometimes, random accidents happen and the incident is no fault of the city.

However, he collected details about the incident, including the address of the house where the offending tree was located.  He told me that he would be in touch with me in a day or two.

When he called me back, he confirmed that someone had previously reported the tree in question to the CSB.  The city inspected the tree, determined it was in need of trimming and scheduled it for service, but never actually completed the trimming.  Thus, the city would accept liability for the damages.

I was asked to obtain two estimates for repairs, and submit proof that I owned the vehicle as well as pictures of the damage.  After doing this, I was sent a release acknowledging that in exchange for payment in the amount of the lower of the two bids, I absolved the city of any further liability for the particular instance of the tree falling on my car.  Per the city’s request, I had the release notarized and mailed it in.
While I had to jump through a few hoops in order to complete the process, I certainly understand the city’s need to protect themselves against spurious complaints.  Ultimately, I found the representative from the City Counselor’s office to be professional, polite and clear in all of our communications.

That being said, the process wouldn’t have gone anywhere if nobody had reported the tree to the CSB.  The city has a large number of trees it’s responsible for maintaining, and many of them are showing their age; the only way the city knows which trees need to be maintained is by reports made by residents.

If you’re aware of a tree between the sidewalk and curb in dire need of trimming, make sure you visit https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/public-safety/neighborhood-stabilization-office/citizens-service-bureau/ and perform a search of the address where the tree is located.

If there’s a request already logged for the address under a relevant problem category such as “Broken/Hanging Limb” or “Inspect City Tree,” click on the Request ID.  If the status of the request is listed as “Open,” then there should be nothing further to do.  If not, then you can report a problem anonymously online through a link at the top of the page.

If you haven’t used the CSB’s webpage before, it’s a great resource for purposes above and beyond requesting tree trimming.  You can report a huge number of issues including abandoned cars, overgrown lawns, rodents, graffiti and now COVID-19 violations.  Providing personal information is always optional, and you can always track the status of any request you file online.

Community leaders discuss Hampton traffic study

by Chip Kastner

On October 27, a neighborhood Zoom meeting was held to discuss a Hampton corridor traffic study that was performed in 2019 by the Lochmueller Group. Ward 16 Alderman Tom Oldenburg, Ward 12 Alderman Vicky Grass, Brenna Brown of the CIty of St. Louis Board of Public Service, and Katy Shackelford and Chris Beard of the Lochmueller Group led the meeting, which drew approximately one hundred attendees.

Alderman Oldenburg opened the meeting with an observation that the majority of complaints he receives as alderman are traffic and speeding related, and the complaints tend to cluster around Hampton Avenue.  After consulting with citizens and businesses along the Hampton corridor between Gravois and Chippewa, a reduction in lanes on Hampton was proposed.  A lane reduction, also known as a road diet, has been successful in other areas such as South Grand and on Arsenal Street along Tower Grove Park.  Reducing vehicle traffic can have a positive impact on businesses along Hampton, and improve the walkability of the neighborhood by making Hampton safer to cross.

The Lochmueller Group was commissioned to perform a traffic study of Hampton Avenue between Chippewa and Gravois to determine the impact of reducing the number of lanes along most of the route.  The study, performed in 2019, evaluated the impact of reducing the lanes on a section of Hampton from two in each direction to one in each direction, with a turn lane running the length of the section.  The space saved would be used to expand the curb, extend the bike lane that currently runs between Jamieson and Loughborough, and provide two extra feet for parked vehicles north of Jamieson.

Notably, the busy intersections at Chippewa and Gravois would not be altered, and two lanes of traffic in each direction would be preserved north of Bancroft (along Hampton Village) and south of the entrance to Willmore Park.  Streetside parking along Willmore Park, which is currently sparsely used, would be replaced with a dedicated bike lane.

The traffic study, which was performed in February and March of 2019, found that a lane reduction would reduce traffic speeds by 5 mph on average.  Line of sight would be increased at intersections, and pedestrian crossing distances would be reduced.  This would be accompanied by an expected 29 percent reduction in crashes, and a 37 percent reduction in injury-causing crashes.  The reduced lanes would also be expected to make street racing along Hampton more difficult.  Overall, the slower traffic would provide a more welcoming environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, and make it easier to get in and out of cars parked on the street.

On the other hand, the inability to pass slower-moving traffic may create perceptions of increased congestion.  Longer lines at traffic signals would also be expected, particularly at the Nottingham and Eichelberger intersections.  However, the six traffic signals between (but not including) Chippewa and Gravois would be adjusted to optimize traffic flow through the corridor and clear most lined-up cars within a single green light.  The time required to drive through the corridor during peak hours should be minimally impacted.

Additionally, it would be expected that anywhere between 2% and 15% of traffic that currently utilizes Hampton would take alternate routes, primarily Jamieson, Macklind and Kingshighway.  Alderman Oldenburg expressed support for a traffic study to address problems currently reported regarding traffic on Jamieson, and for other measures to mitigate any traffic diversions that may occur.

The project, if implemented, would cost between $210,500 and one million dollars.  The least expensive version of the project would simply apply pavement markings and bollards (posts) to delineate the new vehicle lanes, bicycle lanes and curbs.  More expensive options would include curb bumpouts, longer-lasting paint, ADA-compliant pedestrian signals, and upgrades to the intersection of Hampton and Jamieson.

Aldermen Oldenburg and Grass have already secured funding to resurface Hampton.  If the lane reduction is implemented, it would likely be tied to the resurfacing project, which will start no earlier than Spring 2021.

The aldermen expect to continue with community engagement in order to determine whether the changes are desired by the community. Questions may be directed to Brenna Brown of the CIty of St. Louis Board of Public Service at brownbr@stlouis-mo.gov or (314) 589-6637.  The complete traffic study may be downloaded at https://stlhills.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Hampton-Corridor-Traffic-Study-Final.pdf.

If you weren’t able to make the Live Zoom Meeting – “Lochmueller Discussion on the Hampton Corridor Traffic Study”, on 10/27/2020 here is the link via YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkS-UsSdo2Q&feature=youtu.be     

This study was completed and presented by the Lochmueller Group. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of reducing traffic lanes along Hampton Avenue between Chippewa Street and Gravois Avenue. Thanks to everyone who did join the meeting a great turn-out was had. If you have comments, thoughts, suggestions, please contact Alderperson Tom Oldenburg (oldenburgt@stlouis-mo.gov) and City of St. Louis Civil Engineer – Brenna Brown (brownbr@stlouis-mo.gov)

Neighborhood Meeting

Topic: Discussion on the Hampton Corridor Traffic Study (Link to Study below)
Presentation by the Lochmueller Group w/Alderman Oldenburg
Place: Online via Zoom
When: Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 7 pm

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87860917469
Meeting ID: 878 6091 7469
Call in no. 312-626-6799

  1. Go to the Link above any time between now and October 27th
  2. Fill out required information to reserve your spot (Name & Email address)
  3. Click on “Register”
  4. You will receive an email confirming your registration. Participants will need the link & meeting ID to enter the meeting.
  5. If you do not have a computer or smartphone, use the call in number listed above and you will be connected to the meeting audio.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of reducing traffic lanes along Hampton Avenue between Chippewa Street and Gravois Avenue. The motivation for reducing lanes or implementing a “road diet” is a desire for Hampton Avenue to more effectively serve all users of the street, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists. Today, Hampton Avenue functions as an arterial street that prioritizes vehicle traffic over other modes. Hampton has two traffic lanes in each direction. Traffic signal cycles are long to accommodate through traffic. Many areas along the corridor lack adequate pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

At the same time, the land use context along Hampton Avenue is evolving. Small businesses and restaurants are reinvigorating existing commercial buildings. These new businesses, particularly the restaurants, have amplified the need for parking. Many restaurants rely upon on-street parking along Hampton Avenue to serve their patrons. Adjacent neighborhood residents are more and more seeking a walkable community and an urban experience.

Implementing a “road diet” along Hampton Avenue would reduce traffic speeds, improve safety, and promote a more welcoming environment for non-motorized users of the street. This study objectively evaluates the feasibility of a “road diet” along the Hampton Avenue corridor by detailing its anticipated benefits and impacts to traffic.

LOCATION

The study runs along Hampton Avenue from Chippewa Street to the north to Gravois Avenue to the south. This area touches both Ward 16 and Ward 12 of the City of St. Louis and three neighborhoods – St. Louis Hills, Princeton Heights, and South Hampton. The surrounding neighborhoods are mostly single-family. The northern portion of the corridor is commercial including large retail centers with off-street parking, such as the Hampton Village Shopping Center. The middle portion contains small-scale commercial uses with buildings abutting the sidewalks and on- street parking. The southern portion of the corridor is lined with mostly residential uses and Willmore Park.