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QuikTrip Public Comments Heavily Against Relocation

Maplewood city council listened to anyone who wanted to speak about the issue on Tuesday, and the session went for over an hour.

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He said the current store is obsolete.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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Ian Storm August 17, 2012 at 02:48 PM
To the comments that seem to be accusing the school for negligence in not currently having a crossing guard, do you understand that the issue isn't just the intersection as it stands but how it will be AFTER putting in a CVS and a QT. Both of those retailers attract many more cars per day than the Scooter shop or Car lot. This is the crux of the matter, and why a large number of people simply want the Council and QT to hold serious discussions about the best way to handle this project. Can Martini be closed off to northbound traffic? Can Martini be diverted across the top of the QT lot to come out at a light on Big Bend? Can Martini be made one way? There is so much to discuss, and the proposal as it currently stands does not really address a lot of the concerns.
TP August 17, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It's an extreme situation & one I take quite seriously. Would the driver be responsible for their actions - of course - nobody said they wouldn't. But if the council approves this development without requiring concessions for student safety when they already know the intersection is dangerous & despite the residents imploring them to put safety first then they're also responsible. They have the opportunity NOW to decrease risk. They have hundreds of people asking them to decrease the risk & protect our kids. If they disregard that & do not even try to make any effort to increase safety then they are also responsible. The school has been paying for crossing guards for several years. This is not a new challenge for them, but it is an increase in difficulty. Please remember that Big Bend/Manchester is only one of the safety concerns. The high volume of traffic routed to Martini & the lack of lanes or curbs on that side of QT's plan are more dangerous than the Big Bend Manchester issue. You say the school should take responsibility for the safety, & they are the ones paying for the crossing guard and sending out extra staff, but at the same time they are also using their staff to monitor kids entering their property at several differnt points, loading & unloading school busses & supervising the children already in the building. I don't think they can reasonably cover every point withing a 1 block buffer of their property. They need help not additional dangers.
TP August 17, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Ian - I couldn't agree more. These are all the questions that need to be asked and the conversations that need to take place. There is a lot of work to be done before this matter could possbily be resolved and it is going to take some very creative thinking and willingness to work together. Unfortunately we haven't seen that from all of the parties involved, but I applaud those that have thus far and will continue to reach out and work for a solution that does not endanger our children.
Babsgarcia August 23, 2012 at 10:24 PM
I must admit I disagree with mormit...I do beleive QT will look for additional space to move. If you look around the entire County, they have been moving and upgrading QT's all over town. A move up Big Bend into Webster Groves would not be out of the question--plenty of questionable plots of land along there--the other end of big bend too quiet at night (N of Manchester)... Or they could put it over on Hanley where they use to be before Walmart, and give the tax dollars to Brentwood... lots of could go up or down accross that entire strip or even move into RH with that entire re-development going on...
Denise September 01, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I didn't read all the comments, so if this has already been mentioned, I apologize. Has anyone thought of adding an additional crosswalks, where the kids would cross only one road at a time and not at the busy intersection. They could cross Manchester, maybe by the city hall, where there is already a cross walk. A second cross walk could be across Big Bend closer to the school itself. As a person who lives in this area, I see kids ALL day long crossing not in the cross walk, across all the lanes of traffic at Manchester, and the cross walk is just feet away from them. There are ways to make this work, but the kids must take responsibilty also for crossing safely. If children will not follow the rules of the road, maybe they are not ready to walk to and fro from school. As far as the young man who was hit at the cross walk. That must have been very scary for the child, the parents, and the driver. I am glad to hear that he is ok.

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