Launch Slideshow

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The people’s park

The people’s park

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    The Grand Basin—part of the "heart" of Forest Park in St. Louis—features the St. Louis Art Museum. Photo: H3 Studio Inc.

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    A statue of St. Francis looks over the Jewel Box planting area, maintained by the Flora Conservancy. Photo: St. Louis Parks and Recreation

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    Weathered Wisconsin limestone with naturally occurring holes form the riffles east of Deer Lake. Photo: H3 Studio Inc.

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    A popular park feature, this restored Victorian footbridge is in Forest Park's Steinberg area. Photo: H3 Studio Inc.

Park Maintenance

A team from CH2M Hill monitored the waterway during the 2004 growing season and also produced a water systems operations manual so Forest Park staff could maintain the waterway.

“It's surprising how small things such as avoiding mowing up to the edge of waterways can protect the water quality,” said Cathy Barnett, CH2M Hill civil engineer. “Elise [Ibendahl, P.E., water resources engineer] and I have enjoyed working on the park design and developing the best practices maintenance plan, but it makes sense for St. Louis Parks staff to be vested in the park upkeep.”

Nawroz “Noah” Rasheed, St. Louis Department of Parks civil engineer, heads maintenance for Forest Park's continuous waterway. Each month Rasheed walks the 3-mile system inspecting conditions visually, taking water level measurements at eight locations, and taking water samples for testing. He also coordinates public information such as a newsletter for the Forest Park RiverKeepers. In August 2004, the RiverKeepers posted placards at 200 storm-water inlets alerting park users that dumping pollutants affects park water quality.

“The community continues to rally behind Forest Park, demonstrating a shared bond and deeply held commitment to stewardship,” said Jim Mann, Forest Park Forever president and executive director.

Throughout the growing season, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, up to 130 gardeners of the Flora Conservancy weed and maintain park flowerbeds. At the Kennedy Woods Prairie/Savanna project another volunteer group maintains the native Missouri prairie plants it seeded in May 1999. “Forest Park is still a work in progress; both staff and the professional consultants also volunteer,” said Weil.

For example, URS's Mark Felton, who oversaw the natural resource issues in the design, helped organize the RiverKeepers. He also volunteers as Forest Park Naturalist. Sean Devoy, also of URS, who first led the hydrology and water system engineering and then became program manager, continues on both professional and volunteer levels. Weil and Barnett participate in the Flora Conservancy. Barnett, Ibendahl, Felton, and Rasheed volunteer in the RiverKeepers.

“Volunteer effort gives people a sense of ownership and commitment,” said Weil. “I cannot tell you how many times I've seen volunteers with friends or visiting relatives pointing with pride to the area they installed and maintain.”

Carder is a Denver-based business writer.