With manager Marty Corcoran making sure no one went over three minutes, 28 people spoke, for an hour and ten minutes, on the proposed relocation at the Maplewood City Council meeting on Tuesday.
The council chamber was standing-room only, with over 100 people who came to listen or comment.
The comment session was the first public meeting on the proposed move to the northwest corner of Manchester Road and Big Bend Boulevard since the planning and zoning commission gave its recommendation for approval at its meeting.
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The city council let QuikTrip representatives go first.
Allan Renner, real estate manager for QuikTrip, said a 5,600 square foot Generation 3 QuikTrip store is planned.
“The store will have more fresh food, plus a coffee barista and soft serve ice cream, and gasoline, we’ll have eight pumps [the traffic study sponsored by QuikTrip states there will be 16 pumps, four more than at the current location] at the corner, as you can see by the drawing.”
He said the current store is obsolete. “It’s old. It’s been there for 25 years. We need to upgrade that store,” he said. “We’d like to upgrade it here in Maplewood.”
Traffic engineer Lee Cannon said pedestrian safety was focus of the traffic study, and that St. Louis County has already approved it the plan.
Corcoran asked him if he had updated the study to include the CVS store. The original study had not. Cannon said no, and that he’d have it to Corcoran in 10 to 12 days.
Dan Lesseg, the son of the owner of the lot, spoke for the current lease-holder, Nadir Djavaherian, and himself, in favor of the move. He said the proposal “addresses the concerns of the residents and parents, while still preserving Mrs. Lesseg’s right to own her own private property.”
The majority of speakers, from then on, didn’t agree with Lesseg.
Jeff Kiefer, the sponsor of a petition against the move, said the petition had signatures from 490 Maplewood residents, 149 Richmond Heights residents, 33 from outside the MRH area, which is more than a petition sponsored by QuikTrip, after validation.
Tonya Powell, mother of three MRH students who have to cross the intersection said the proposal makes a dangerous intersection even more dangerous.
She said her son was hit last year crossing with the light in the crosswalk. “Luckily it was only his saxophone case that flew out into the intersection,” she said.
Janice Jackson of Richmond Heights, said she has taught for 31 years and no other school in St. Louis has a situation like this. “I can’t believe on a day like today, when we should be celebrating the school district that this is what we’re fighting for.”
MRH school board vice president Francis Chmelir said the board has asked for a comprehensive safety study coupled with the addition of the CVS Pharmacy, and that he’s heartened to hear that may be forth-coming. He said because they haven’t seen a comprehensive study, the board still opposes the move.
He said QuikTrip, in their presentation at the planning and zoning commission, said they have, “thrown several things on the table that they’d like to participate in.”
“While this is true, we do not feel that offers such as purchasing new basketball uniforms, providing scholarships, making a donation to Joe’s Place, or with providing MRH students with discounts to their store solves the fundamental issue at hand, which is safety and increased traffic in the neighborhood.”
Cindy McCandless said she has two children in MRH and is a teacher in another district with a QuikTrip and a bakery not too far down the road.
“We have had students skip class in order to run down, try and rush, get hit crossing the street,” she said. She said the stated 27-year history of no fatalities at the intersection doesn’t pertain to the intersection with the QuikTrip.
Virgil Tipton said he has two students at MRH.
He said the study was stated to be focused on pedestrian safety. “The few accidents were caused by inappropriate behavior and jaywalking. Do you think moving QuikTrip here would cause children and teenagers to stop jaywalking? Probably not,” he said. “If I was doing a study based on pedestrian safety I would include every pedestrian.”
Caroline Strong said MRH students are taught to be out in the community, and mentioned the students at the Early Childhood Center.
She said field trips are an important part of the ECC students’ education and if the QT were built those field trips would no longer be safe. She said it would change how the children are taught, which is one of the main reasons young families move to the MRH district.
Dillon Long said he went to MRH Middle School and attended the high school but no longer does.
“While I was there, I definitely noticed that crossing that intersection, especially in the morning during rush hour was really dangerous,” he said. He said he had a near-miss with a car.
“With the CVS and the new QuikTrip, I don’t think it’s going to become any more safer. I think quite the opposite,” he said.
He said it would be dangerous for the 16 and 17-year-old drivers arriving in the morning, to drive through the intersection to drive up Martini Avenue.
Adrian Glass, owner of the and Grill, spoke on behalf of board of directors of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce.
He said the chamber’s mission is to further the development of the business community in Maplewood, “and that being said, we support the relocation.”
After the meeting Corcoran said the issue will probably be on the agenda for the next council meeting, but with the update on the traffic study still out, he couldn’t confirm when a vote would be taken.
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