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Audits to examine broader community role for MetroLink stations

MetroLink train at station
File photo | Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

A new initiative is asking St. Louis-area residents to re-imagine the role of three MetroLink stations as vibrant public spaces where visitors can do more than just catch a train.

AARP and Citizens for Modern Transit are hosting a series of so-called “Placemaking” walk audits starting Wednesday with the North Hanley Station in north St. Louis County. Commuters, local business leaders, and higher education and transit officials will explore ways to encourage more community activity in the space.

“We don’t want to come out with a list of to-dos for just the transit agency,” said Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. Cella said the audits are a way to start a dialogue about creating public spaces that serve more than just the needs of transit infrastructure.

“Really, the transit system is part of the community so [we’re asking] ‘what can the community do to activate the space and make it better?’”

AARP Associate State Director Sheila Holm said proposals to enhance the stations, such as extra lighting, more seating, planting gardens, art projects or other aesthetic upgrades, would ultimately require financial assistance from people in the area to make happen.

“It could be a citizens group or it could be a company that says ‘you know, we want to take ownership of that [project]; we want to make sure that we have benches for people to sit on or water fountains; or we want to sponsor a little cart café every Wednesday,” Holm said.

The placemaking audits are also scheduled for Sept. 16 at MetroLink’s Forest Park Station and Oct. 14  at the Delmar Station. Anyone who wants to participate needs to register online at aarp.org/stlouis. Each audit will run approximately three hours and convene later at a secondary location for a follow up discussion. 

The architectural firm Arcturis will be conducting the audits and will issue a report on their results to the public on Nov. 15.  The placemaking collaborative also involves support from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University and the Skinker-DeBalivere Council. 

Follow Joseph Leahy on Twitter: @joemikeleahy

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