Contact: Pastor John Schmidtke at Bethlehem Lutheran Church (314/231-9615) or Alderman Freeman Bosley (314/622-3287)
Local Federal Earmark Helps to Jump Start the Revitalization of a Historic North St. Louis City Community
Senator Kit Bond’s leadership plays a critical role in the rebirth of a neighborhood. Families eagerly return to an area that was once haven for crime, drugs and dangerous properties.
Federal earmarks are vital to the revitalization of inner city communities. Earmarks can provide valuable resources for project cost that cannot be supported by any other means. Approximately seven years ago, Bethlehem Lutheran Church and 3rd Ward Alderman Freeman Bosley shared a common vision for a community in which they shared an equal interest. How could they address the severe disinvestment in a seven block area of North St. Louis that was the home to a few good families but had a disproportionate number of vacant lots, deteriorating and unsafe buildings, crime and drugs?
While both parties developed independent but similar visions for the area, both realized the undertaking would require significant support. After developing a common vision for uplifting and improving the community, they collectively sought to develop a public private partnership. Salisbury Park, a planned 100 home community, is the product of that collective vision. Included in the development of a master strategy, was the buy in and support of the local community plus local and state government support. But neither the City of St. Louis nor the State of Missouri had the resources to rebuild and fulfill the infrastructure needs to support the development. Senator Bond’s leadership and vision played a critical role in molding this project into a catalyst for not only reclaiming the project area but also spurring other landmark projects in the area.
The Hyde Park Neighborhood has a rich history in the City of St. Louis. The descendants of this neighborhood played an important role in forming the character of this City. Bethlehem Lutheran Church has over a one hundred year history of serving Hyde Park. Like many urban neighborhoods, this once proud community found itself the victim of massive flight, absentee landlords, dangerous properties and other problems that befall many urban communities. In additional to very visible social, economic and housing problems are a litany of infrastructure issues from deteriorated sewers and waterlines to streets ill suited for today’s traffic needs and others issues. New housing and families could not be brought into the community without first replacing or rebuilding the infrastructure problems of this community. Housing and building permits require the rebuilding of the infrastructure prior to permits being issued.
Alderman Bosley said, “Without a doubt, we could not have moved this project forward without the Senator’s appreciation of what was needed to revitalize this area and provide decent housing for families. There may be some that criticize the use of Federal earmarks and in some cases that criticism maybe justified, but in this case, in my community, Senator Bond’s leadership and use of this valuable tool was essential and without it would not have happened. This community will not forget him for his contribution toward improving the quality of life in this corner of St. Louis.”
Linda Primer is a community activist and a staff person for the Neighborhood Council, she said, “It seemed like the Senator spent a whole day with us. He talked to residents, walked the entire neighborhood, spoke to the media and just really showed a lot of enthusiasm and concern about this project. We really, really thank him.”
Pastor Schmidtke, the Pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church said, “It was very encouraging to see Senator Bond come to our neighborhood and spend significant time with us to learn about our project and understand what a difference the new Salisbury Park is making in the lives of people. He could have sent some staff or aides, but the Senator himself came and walked the streets with us. I’m grateful that the Senator understands that to build a few houses is one thing, to resurrect an entire community is another. His leadership has been key–in fighting for the things a resurrected community needs like an infrastructure that people can count on, and programs for families and children that give them every opportunity to succeed as good citizens. Everybody talks about these needs, but Senator Bond has gone beyond talk into action through the earmark process.”
Salisbury Park has been extremely successful to date and the infrastructure is in place to continue the revitalization. There are more people living in this patch of land than prior to the development and more important, there is great interest in moving here. Families here have taken great pride in their homes and communities. Now there have been a number of new projects that have been started in the immediate vicinity to Salisbury Park. Without a doubt, Senator Bond’s leadership and his usage of a Federal earmark was critical to the success of this project to St. Louis and to this neighborhood. The new families in the community attest to it.