Several important projects came to a close in 2015,the result of continued great collaboration between the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever and the Forest Park Advisory Board. These projects include:
The Festival & Parking Plaza: The former "Upper Muny Lot" was transformed into a flexible, more sustainable multi-use space, capable of better hosting large-scale events and festivals while still accommodating over 750 vehicles. The Plaza was designed with sustainability in mind and contains 25,000 square feet of new green space, 5,000 new plantings and 100 new trees, sustainable rain gardens and high-efficiency LED lighting. The ADA access and new pedestrian walkways make the area more usable and inviting. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch covered the story back in May.
- New LED lighting above Art Hill: A popular Park destination that had been dark for too long, Art Hill received a makeover in the fall thanks to the installation of 128 energy-efficient LED bulbs. The area is now as welcoming after sunset as it is throughout the day. The West End Word helped spread the word about this important upgrade to a beloved area.
- Restroom improvements at four key sites throughout the Park: While restrooms and drinking fountains are not 'iconic' Park destinations, we know how important they are to visitors. We were very happy to work with City of St. Louis partners to upgrade and improve four of these restrooms in 2015. One had been closed for over two decades (just north of Steinberg Skating Rink), two had historically shut down in the winter (at Wells Drive and the Hampton roundabout) and the fourth was made more accessible with improved sidewalks (at the Parks Administration building). These comfort stations also received new visitor amenities, including water fountains with bottle fillers (social media loved this one!), improved landscaping and bike racks.
- A chess plaza near Steinberg Skating Rink: Thanks to a donation of four concrete chess tables from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, one of the upgraded comfort station areas mentioned above is now also home to a chess plaza accessible to visitors throughout the year. Permeable pavers and two new drinking fountains make the area even more sustainable and user-friendly. St. Louis Public Radio was on hand for the opening-day festivities.
- Major infrastructure improvements along the Park's southwest corner and along Oakland Avenue: A ribbon cutting ceremony was held the morning of October 20 to commemorate the completion of this $2 million project. The improvements were funded through a $1.6 million federal grant secured by the City of St. Louis, $200,000 in Ward Capital Improvement funds from Aldermen Lyda Krewson and Scott Ogilvie and a $200,000 gift to Forest Park Forever from the Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation. Fox-2 was on site to cover the culmination of this exciting project.