Chesterfield accepts wetlands donation from Levee District
By: Carol Enright
This spring, area residents can cast their lines in another fishing hole in Chesterfield. At its Oct. 15 meeting, the Chesterfield City Council unanimously agreed to accept a donation of 188 acres of wetlands from the Monarch-Chesterfield Levee District and to approve the transfer of $20,000 from the Parks Sales Tax Fund Reserves to cover the cost of a boundary survey of the land.
The “east wetlands,” as the property is known, is a heavily wooded area that features a 30-acre lake, nature trails and boardwalks connecting to the lake.
“It’s really just kind of a nature experience,” said Mike Geisel, the city’s director of planning and public works. “And the lake itself will be a great fishing opportunity.”
Geisel said the city hasn’t developed community usage rules for the newest addition to the parks system, yet, but he anticipates that the public will be allowed to take non-motorized boats on the lake.
He added that the $20,000 boundary survey is the only expense the city will incur in taking ownership of the property.
The wetlands are north of the main levee behind the strip of land west of the Hardee’s Iceplex on the north side of the Hwy. 40 where Taubman Prestige Outlets Chesterfield is currently under construction.
Geisel said the Levee District began buying the property after the Great Flood of 1993 so that that it could remove sand and clay to use in repairing the levee. The 30-acre lake is a result of that process. According to Geisel, the Levee District agreed that once it had exhausted removing useful material from the land, it would donate it to the city as a wetlands mitigation area.
“We pretty much squeezed all the potential uses out of this property that we could,” he added.
Geisel said the city spent a lot of time working with Taubman to make sure the back of its 450,000-square-foot outlet mall, which abuts the levee trail, was aesthetically pleasing and that the developer allowed for easy access to the trail from its property.
“In fact, when Taubman came in for rezoning, we worked with them,” Geisel said, “and they provided easements on their property so there are some parking areas and access to the wetlands from their site.”
Geisel said the city considers the wetlands “an adjunct to the levee trail” that will provide runners, cyclists and walkers another chance to enjoy nature in the city.
“It’s an opportunity to preserve a significant amount of open space and provide some recreational amenities that currently we don’t have. It’s directly accessible from the levee trail, so it will be a place that you can go to and – because it’s on the outside of the main levee – (be) really isolated from the rest of the world.
“It’s just one more amenity to our parks system to provide the experience that we really don’t have the opportunity to recreate anywhere else.”