Adventure course nixed in Wildwood, St. Louis County moves on to Creve Coeur Park
By: Sarah Wilson
Resident opposition in December 2012 triggered St. Louis County to rethink its proposed plan of bringing a treetop activities course with a zip line, swings and hanging obstacles into its Greensfelder Park in Wildwood. Today, the county has set its sights on Creve Coeur Park.
Tom Ott, acting director of St. Louis County’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said Go Ape!, the company proposing the course, would design, build and staff it. He also said it would bring 12 new jobs to the St. Louis area.
St. Louis County would share in some of the revenue generated by the project.
When St. Louis County Parks Department in July 2012 presented its business plan for the upcoming year, the plan included a $500,000 shortfall for 2013. Ott said the proposed treetop activities plan is in line with the county’s five-strategies business plan to bring in revenue, but he also said it is about more than just the revenue.
“This is a great recreational experience that gets people out of the house and into our parks,” he said. “St. Louis County Parks is the regional parks system, and we try to offer variety and diversity to our recreational programming. We have a lot of already unique items in our parks system, and this would be just one more.”
While some residents were concerned that a treetops adventure course in Greensfelder Park would disrupt the horse population, the main concern on some residents’ minds for Creve Coeur Park is the quality of life for birds in the area.
James Ruffin, president of the St. Louis Audubon Society said he was at the meeting to express the Audubon Society’s opposition to the course. He noted that while the “thriving avian population is, per se, a beneficial thing” in and of itself, it also is important as “the health of the large, natural community.”
“And this proposal poses a risk to that health,” Ruffin said. “Creve Coeur Park is not just any park. It is one that has been designated by the national society as an important bird area, a designation reserved only for those areas with a sensitive habitat or sensitive populations. And a portion of the part under consideration is a particularly noteworthy portion.”
Resident Mike Meredith said too many parks in the county are already being used for purposes other than nature.
“I would hate to see that beauty and the camaraderie of the people, who are out enjoying the nature, to be disrupted by a zip line,” he said.
The St. Louis County Council is set to make a final decision on the bill on Feb. 19. Follow this story online at newsmagazinenetwork.com for updates.