By Art Holliday
MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (KSDK) - Dorsett Road runs between Lindbergh Boulevard and Creve Coeur Park, the main street in Maryland Heights. City leaders are in the planning stage and public input stage of turning Dorsett Road into a so-called Great Street.
"A Great Street is not only a street that moves cars and serves the transportation purposes, but also is nice looking. It helps to market the community better," said Britt Palmberg of Design Workshop, a Denver company that has created Great Streets in Chicago, Kansas City, and Wichita.
Palmberg is the project manager for the Dorsett Road Great Street Initiative. Wednesday's meeting at the Maryland Heights Community Center was the third and last for public input.
Karen Aqauadro said she has lived in Maryland Height for over 20 years.
"I'm not really in favor of changing too much about the main thoroughfare of our city," said Aquandro. "We're a bedroom community and it's good to keep it that way. We aren't Webster Groves, we aren't Kirkwood, and we aren't the Loop."
More than 100 people gathered at the community center Wednesday evening, hoping to get answers from Palmberg and city officials about the quality of life improvements for Dorsett Road: enhancing driving, walking, and biking, business diversity, landscaping, and storm water management.
Not everyone thinks Great Streets are so great. Between 30 and 40 protestors with signs and megaphones chanted and sang in front of the community center, including Teresa Douglas.
"They've already driven out Pioneer Lumber and a number of other businesses along Dorsett Road," said Douglas. "They intend to make parking much more difficult. They plan on reducing the number of parking spaces."
An orange flyer handed out by one of the protestors alleges the Great Street plan violates property rights by blighting a large area of Dorsett Road, leading to a land grab by eminent domain, a charge the project manager disputes.
"I think the people are concerned that the city is going to take land and condemn properties and that sort of thing. Except for a couple of feet for sidewalks or a path, no one is talking about taking private land or private property." said Palmberg.
According to City Administrator Mark Levin, the project would be paid for with money from Maryland Heights, matching funds from East West Gateway, and private investment. Design Workshop of Denver will turn over its Great Street proposal to the Maryland Heights City Council In early July. Then it's up to Maryland Heights whether the plan is implemented or changed. Any changes to Dorsett Road would happen in phases over a five to 10 year period according to the city administrator.
For more information on the Dorsett Road initiative, visit the Dorsett Great Streets website.