On Monday, May 9th, the University City City Council passed a Domestic Partner Registry Ordinance for University City.
When I first moved to St. Louis 17 years ago, I chose University City as a place to live because it is a welcoming, diverse and vibrant community. Our community has always been identified as one that encourages and welcomes all families, and Monday night’s action is a testament to that fact.
A domestic partner registry creates a system where individuals in committed and caring relationships can make their relationship a matter of record. It can also make it easier for couples to receive benefits such as hospital and jail visitation, employers’ health insurance benefits, and access to recreational facilities. Our city joins St. Louis City, Kansas City, Columbia and Jackson County which already have similar registries.
We continue to work on issues surrounding pedestrian traffic in the Loop. As you may recall, over the past several summers we had issues in the Loop on weekend evenings normally involving youth making their way through the Loop.
Last year we instituted a curfew, but we still have some issues to resolve. We are trying to strike a fair balance between individual liberties and the need for our visitors to the Loop and our business owners to feel secure in the Loop and enjoy the time they spend there.
If you have any suggestions as to how we can proceed, in a balanced manner, regarding this issue that is important to all of us, I welcome your input.
Several citizens have expressed concern about the unilateral decision made by the city manager to permanently turn off the lights at the Ruth Park Driving Range. You may recall that the decision to install the driving range has always been a somewhat contentious issue, and one that was made prior to me joining the council. Our city applied for county park money to install the driving range and the lights. You may also recall that we agreed to allow Clayton residents to pay the same fee to use the driving range as University City residents.
I actually believe the driving range has been a benefit to our community. It helped make Ruth Park Golf Course more self-sustaining. In order to determine whether or not the lights were impacting neighbors immediately surrounding the driving range, the former parks director had a lighting study conducted which said that the lights were not impacting the homes surrounding the golf course. I would tell you to judge for yourself, but you won’t have that opportunity since the city manager has ordered the lights off.
I believe this decision is one that needs to be made by the City Council, not the city manager. At a time when we are constantly searching for revenue, and for opportunities for family activities in our community, the city manager simply turned the lights off. The city manager even created a committee which voted to keep the lights on and he disregarded their input. The University City Park Commission has not been asked to weigh on this important issue either.
Whether or not you agree with the driving range or the lights, this is a policy decision that needs to be made by your elected officials. We should work together to come up with a solution to accommodate evening users and neighbors of the Ruth Park Driving Range. Once again, I would value your input.
As always, there are opportunities to serve our community in many ways, if anyone is interested in joining a commission, please let me know.