Days Says Proposal for North County St. Louis Recreation Facility “Closed,” But Won’t Disclose Details | Politics
CLAYTON — County Council Speaker Rita Days said plans for a recreation facility in northern St. Louis County are “close,” but won’t release details of the project.
And she’s not making any promises that she’ll soon end a month-long delay in approving the county’s share of funding to pay for America’s Center expansion.
Day-long efforts to identify and secure funding for the recreation center caused the county council to delay a vote on the county’s $105 million bond issue for several months.
In prepared remarks at a board meeting on Tuesday, Days said she was responding to political pressure over the delays and that a team was “working feverishly to get this project across the finish line.”
“Some of you may have wondered why the delay in passing this legislation, but that’s why I’m giving you an update tonight,” Days said.
“We are close,” she added.
The city of St. Louis has already issued bonds to pay for its half of the $210 million expansion, which is underway. Days insisted the region’s tourism agency, the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, reneged on a 2019 deal to build the North County Recreation Center.
People also read…
Under the agreement reached with Days’ predecessor on the council, the late Hazel Erby, the money for the new leisure center is supposed to come from a percentage of excess or uncommitted hotel taxes.
But county budget director Paul Kreidler told the county council there will be no excess hotel tax revenue for at least three years due to the pandemic, which has reduced hotel revenue and revenue. taxes from 2020.
CVC president Kitty Ratcliffe said the deal was only to help fund the facility, not design and build it. Ratcliffe said the agency went above and beyond when it paid for a study, released in September, that suggested an indoor track facility.
The study, which was released two years after the 2019 deal, proposed a 200-meter indoor track facility that could host multiple events, including NCAA-level tournaments, year-round for 4,000-5,000 spectators.
But he didn’t make recommendations for other details, including a proposed site, architectural concepts or estimated cost.
Since CVC’s study, Days said on Tuesday, she “has put together a team to make it happen, and in four months I have experts vetting the site, the concepts and now arranging the funding,” she said. she declared.
The CVC study, she said, was part of a history of delays in proposed projects for majority black areas.
“Efforts to bring resources to the black community are often met with studies, analysis, delays and needs assessments,” Days said.
And Days complained that she “felt the pressure” to release CVC bonds and/or faced “significant political challenges” and a “well-funded adversary.”
Days, who was elected to succeed Erby on the board in 2019, is up for re-election this year for a full four-year term.
Jennings Councilman Terry Wilson challenges her in the August primary.
But Days didn’t reveal any other details about possible plans for the facility.
The Post-Dispatch previously reported that the University of Missouri-St. Louis was under consideration as the site for the potential recreation complex, and that Days had privately asked the county to fund the restructuring of the $105 million special bond issue facility to add $80 million additional debt to pay for the new recreation center.
In an interview Wednesday, Days said UMSL’s location and bond financing “are still on the table.” But she declined to provide further details.
“I don’t want to post anything that might change next week,” Days said. “When I go out and say something, I want to make sure that we’re clear on what’s going on, that I’m sure of the plan, I’m sure of the location.”
Asked about the political pressure she faced, Days said she was responding to an op-ed in the St. Louis American, the regional black-owned weekly that focuses on issues affecting African Americans. The editorial called Days’ delay of convention center bonds “vanity-driven leverage to leave his name on a new building,” which has cost the area’s tourism industry, including “thousands of black workers.
Asked about the “team” she mentioned, Days said it included UMSL officials and St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt, who advocated for the 2019 CVC deal. .
When asked if there was anyone else on the team, Days told a reporter that there was. But she declined to name them.
“They just don’t want you to call them,” Days said. “You will be asking specific questions and this is information that we are simply not ready to release yet. This is a challenging project at best, and we want to ensure that when we release information it will be accurate. and final.
Originally published 2:30 PM Wednesday March 2. (tncms-asset)c31a8856-892b-11ec-b5a8-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)(tncms-asset)1d7a1138-85fb-11ec-bdfd-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)(tncms-asset)bccefa06-7fb0-11ec-8495-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)(tncms-asset)e5559e5e-498b-11ec-af2e-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)