Forest Park continues to assert itself as the premier park in the region. Of St. Louis' 108 parks, and Tower Grove Park, it is the crown jewel. Largely due to the successful public/private partnership that is Forest Park Forever; their motto:
"We are stewards of a treasure"
Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park.
Supported by our generous members, donors and volunteers, we ensure that Forest Park is beautiful and welcoming — now and forever.
Founded in 1986, Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s greatest urban public parks.
Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million between 1995 and 2003 and dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box. (source)
The investment and transformation of this park has been nothing short of stunning. This park was in much need of upgrades and leadership...a master plan.
As the years have passed, we've seen high profile projects transform the park including the Grand Basin at the foot of Art Hill, the meandering creeks, the golf courses, the Spanish Pavilion, the way finding, the landscape...all fantastic upgrades.
The results have exceeded by expectations on nearly every level.
The most recent upgrades I witnessed are not as sexy as the previously mentioned upgrades; some are just infrastructure investments that make the park more useable by all.
And, yes, lots of people walk and bike to the park, but many also drive. Many of the roads nearest the Zoo were in dire need of repair.
The road sections being upgraded run from Skinker Boulevard nearest Oakland/I-64 along and through Kennedy Forest to the two Zoo paid parking lots, one at Tamm Avenue, the other at the Living World. These are high profile sections for tourists and Zoo visitors...first impressions are important, and these upgrades will certainly please.
map image from Forest Park Forever
And in typical fashion, the upgrades exceeded my expectations.
On-street parking clearly demarcated for parallel parking along roads, bump-outs to define parking areas, new sidewalks, gorgeous roundabouts, cross walks and speed humps.
Yes, I said gorgeous cross walks and speed humps. I mean it and have provided a few words on each and a couple photos to help explain.
And when the (I believe) black gum trees that were planted in the bump outs mature, and the other landscapes are planted, I know this will be a massive, value-added upgrade.
I'm glad to see some of the less-prominent upgrades on the park being made. Infrastructure and drainage are not fun, but man are they important.
Let this park nerd expand a bit on my excitement...
The sidewalks are wide enough to accommodate the many visitors unloading strollers, wagons, walkers and wheel chairs with enough room to allow passage by pedestrians walking and jogging on the sidewalks.
There are (unfinished) rain collection areas in several spots. These will help break up the street, provide interest and slow down driver speeds.
A roundabout helps efficiently funnel traffic toward the Zoo and Tamm Avenue. The landscaping is incomplete, but I trust will be eye catching and sustainable.
The signage is bright and prominent in favor of the pedestrian.
The crosswalks are beautiful with multiple materials including concrete, cobblestones and painted surfaces. This is eye catching and slows driver speeds.
There are bump outs to make crossing the street on foot/bike safer and shorter from sidewalk to sidewalk. The bump outs on each side are being planted with trees and other landscape.
At some of the longer stretches included elevated speed ramps or humps. These upgrades make driving through the park safer for passengers and pedestrians.I can't wait to see the upgrades on Government Drive and watch the landscape mature.
Well done Forest Park Forever and St. Louis!