Missouri has joined a growing list of states looking to reopen national parks within their borders as the federal government shutdown continues.
In a statement released late Friday, Governor Jay Nixon (D) says he's directed members of his staff to put together a proposal for reopening National Park Service sites in Missouri, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways Park. He calls the two sites "national treasures" that draw millions of tourists every year and "generate significant economic activity."
National and state leaders broke ground Friday on the first phase of the CityArchRiver 2015 plan to revitalize the Gateway Arch grounds.
Two members of President Obama’s cabinet—Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx—were present at the ceremony. The first project is a park to be built over Interstate 70 to improve accessibility between downtown and the Arch grounds. Senator Claire McCaskill praised local officials for getting to this point.
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Author and historian Tracy Campbell views the Gateway Arch as an architectural wonder which draws millions of tourists to St. Louis, though he also argues the landmark is “an example of failed urban planning.”
To make way for the monument, nearly forty square blocks of riverfront property were demolished. The demolition began during a public ceremony on October 9, 1939.
City leaders only gained traction for the project once it was framed as a monument to President Thomas Jefferson.
Supporters of a sales tax increase to fund an upgrade of the Arch grounds, along with local parks and trails, are gearing up for a two-and-a-half month campaign.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted today 20-3-1 today put the measure on the April 6 ballot, when it will also be considered in St. Louis County. Aldermen Sam Moore, Antonio French and Scott Ogilvie voted no, and Ald. Terry Kennedy voted present. Two aldermen were absent.