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New proposal on BJC lease goes to aldermen

Hudlin Park; the area that will be affected if the lease deal is approved.

By Tom Weber and Maria Hickey; KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – A new plan to lease parkland to Barnes-Jewish Hospital will be introduced to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Friday.

The original plan would have leased the 12-acres of Forest Park land east of Kingshighway. The latest proposal trims that to nine acres.

And the plan requires BJC pay more for the lease; $2 million a year.

Mayor Francis Slay's chief of staff Jeff Rainford says the key is that the BJC money will go into a trust fund that can only be used for Forest Park maintenance.

"I don't know if this is perfect, but it's pretty darn good," Rainford said. "And it's going to be really good for our parks and it's going to be really good for Forest Park."

But the changes are not swaying the group Citizens to Protect Forest Park.

Carla Scissors-Cohen says her group intends to keep fighting.

"This section of Forest Park belongs to the people," she said. "In 1874 Forest Park was dedicated to the people of St. Louis, and we think it's up to the people to decide what happens to the fate of their park."

Last month the group turned in enough signatures to get a question on the April ballot. It will ask voters whether they should be consulted when the city wants to sell, lease or build on parkland.

The new lease proposal also would require BJC to replace tennis courts and a playground that both would be eliminated on the current site.


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