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Your questions, answered: Great Rivers Greenway is updating its strategic plan with community input

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Emma Klues and Elizabeth Simons of Great Rivers Greenway discussed the organization's five year plan and requested community input on Wednesday's "St. Louis on the Air."

On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” representatives from Great Rivers Greenway joined host Don Marsh to discuss their strategic plan on building, promoting and sustaining greenways, or trails, for the next five years in the St. Louis region.

The group is holding several open houses in the coming weeks to gather more feedback from the community, including an event Wednesday afternoon at the Bridgeton Trails Branch Library at 4 p.m. You can also take a 10-minute survey online at the same link.

The guests:

  • Elizabeth Simons, Community Program Manager, Great Rivers Greenway
  • Emma Klues, Director of Communications and Outreach, Great Rivers Greenway

“There are basically 17 greenways identified in our plan right now, there are bits and pieces of those complete and that’s 110 miles. And there are opportunities to build upon those in the plans already established,” said Klues.
More background: Great Rivers Greenway wants your feedback to update regional plan

The two answered several caller emails, tweets and questions during the show. Here are their answers:

Who pays for Great Rivers Greenway?

“Great Rivers Greenway receives sales tax funding from St. Louis city, St. Louis County, St. Charles County and, oftentimes, when we go into construction we look for grants and other private sources of funding as well,” said Simons.

“Our annual revenue from both taxes combined is about $20 million,” said Klues.

What is a ‘greenway’?

“Greenways are more than just a trail,” said Klues. “They are almost all paved but they also include amenities like benches, restrooms and drinking fountains and also include destinations along the way. For example, Grant’s Trail you can get to Grant’s Farm and Grant’s historic home along the way.”

House Bill 2047 would allow ATVs, golf carts on the Katy Trail. Would that impact the greenways?

“We absolutely want everyone to explore and enjoy the outdoors but mixing motorized vehicles with people who are walking and riding bicycles can be very dangerous,” said Klues.

“Currently the bill is focused on the Katy Trail,” she continued. “Our greenways would be for walking, running, riding a bike…no motorized vehicles allowed. The Katy Trail does connect to a lot of our greenways but governance would not apply to greenways.”

What about disabled users of the greenways?

“Greenways have paved trails so they are good to use no matter what type of wheeled device you are using. We work with partners, whether from neighborhoods or streets, so there is better access and the transition from the street to the greenway is a good one,” said Wilson. “There are accessible ramps and other devices to help ease that transition.”

What about trees that are cut down for greenways and conservation areas?

“Sometimes we have to alter the landscape to offer access to other parks and greenspaces but we certainly try to replant trees and native plants at the same level or more as we build the greenways, but there certainly can be alterations that people aren’t used to seeing,” said Klues.

Are the trails what the voters voted for with Prop C? It seems like the focus on trails and not clean water.

“We focused on the greenways in the beginning but we really broadened our focus over the past couple years,” said Klues.  “We’ve hired teams for a department that is dedicated to not only taking care of the greenways but focusing on conservation efforts. … Part of what we ask about in this survey is what are the most important issues, be it clean water, native plants and how people would like to be involved.”

How can you get involved in development?

“We have new opportunities we are promoting, one of which is to be a Greenways ambassador, where you can learn about the greenways, help us show up to community events, do outreach, and work at our visitors center at our office in the Loop,” said Klues. “There are lots of ways to help take care of them as well.”

What happened to the expansion of the Deer Creek Trail?

“The expansion of Deer Creek greenway is well under way,” said Simons. “We typically work in one to two mile segments as we work a greenway through planning, design, engineering and construction. Various segments are in design and we’ll probably see construction in the not-to-distant-future.”

Any plans to expand beyond the areas the greenways are now?

“Currently, our district is based on who voted for our proposition in the year 2000. Currently, we serve St. Louis city, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Our tax dollars, we want to keep them right in the district that they came from.”

Related Event

What: Great Rivers Greenway Strategic Plan Open House
When: Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Where: Bridgeton Trails Branch Library, 3455 McKelvey Road, Bridgeton, MO 63044
More information.

What: Great Rivers Greenway Open House
When: Tuesday, Feb. 23 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Where: Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, 5700 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63112
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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