St. Louis County Parks

Esley Hamilton
Alex Heuer

After more than 40 years of working in the St. Louis region, Esley Hamilton is partially retiring from his post as a preservation historian.

Hamilton began his career in 1968 as an intern in East St. Louis. As years passed, he became a well-known preservation historian for Saint Louis County Parks and Recreation, working to save threatened historic property in the area.

This week marks the end of construction on Laumeier Sculpture Park’s fine arts center. According to park Executive Director Marilu Knode, the entire building was designed to bridge the gap between future indoor exhibits and its already established outdoor collection.

“You know we’re an outdoor park, we don’t need a fancy building we need something that’s like a barn!” she said.

St. Louis County parks department director Gary Bess dealt with an embezzlement scandal during his tenure as St. Louis parks director.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Gary Bess isn’t the type of person destined to be sequestered in a corner office. 

Bess spent nearly four decades in the St. Louis parks department – including 18 years as director. He developed a reputation as a personable manager who worked hand-in-hand with employees. (He’s also renowned within local politics for his colorful sport coats.)

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley has claimed in recent weeks that he never proposed shutting down county parks in 2011. But now, as the issue begins to heat up again, Dooley is, in his own words, "walking back" from his comments.

Dooley told St. Louis Public Radio that he “never proposed shutting down anything,” adding that “people will be saying things every election cycle about Charlie Dooley. Just because they say it doesn’t make it so.”

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

Every week, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum talk about the week’s politics.  

Note: You can subscribe to us on iTunes now.

We know you can’t get enough of Politically Speaking, which is why we have two episodes this week. The Politically Speaking crew's latest interview features St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, a Democrat who has held the powerful local office since late 2003.

file photo

On April 2nd voters in St. Louis City and St. Louis County will go to the polls, to among other things, vote on whether to pass Proposition P – a 3/16th of one-cent sales tax increase which would benefit the Gateway Arch grounds, regional trails and greenways through Great Rivers Greenway, and city and county parks.

Host Don Marsh talked with people on both sides of the issue.  Peter Sortino is the chairman of the pro Proposition P campaign and Jennifer Bird, a Republican Committeewoman in St. Louis County, is opposed to the measure.

Breaking Down The 'Arch Tax'

Mar 28, 2013
Courtesy CityArchRiver

Next Tuesday, you’ll have a chance to decide on Proposition P: a 3/16th of a cent sales tax increase which amounts to about two cents on a $10 purchase. The measure is often referred to as “the Arch Tax,” but the nickname doesn’t tell the whole story.

“Between 1995 and 2005, the Arch had about 3.3 million visitors a year," Ryan McClure with the CityArchRiver project told me as he walked me through the Arch grounds."Right now they’re averaging about 2.3.”

Flickr/jdnx

It's known as the Arch tax, but if St. Louis city and St. Louis County voters approve the measure next month, the biggest chunk of money goes to parks in the region.
 
The sales tax would add about 2 cents to a $10 purchase in the city and county. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that it could raise an estimated $780 million over the next 20 years.