New Chouteau Greenway aims to promote equity, unite city neighborhoods

New Chouteau Greenway aims to promote equity, unite city neighborhoods

DOWNTOWN WEST—Residents of neighborhoods all across the city gathered last week to discuss plans for the Chouteau Greenway project, a series of bike trails that would connect several neighborhoods, north and south.

Great Rivers Greenway, a public agency that is in charge of bike trails throughout the region, is proposing the $250 million project that aims to promote equity, diversity and inclusion.

“We want to offer a truly unique experience,” said Susan Trautman, chief executive of Great Rivers Greenway. Trautman said the project is to help “show the world what St. Louis could be.”

Trautman explained that the Feb. 5 presentation was to hear from residents. She said one of the project’s main goals was to celebrate people in St. Louis who may not have had voices before.

Among the main concerns of people attending the event was safety. The trails are to start at Forest Park and weave through about 19 city neighborhoods, connecting riders to Fairground Park, Tower Grove Park, and finally the Gateway Arch. But, that’s just a preliminary idea.

The group says they don’t know exactly where the trail will be, because that’s up to residents to decide.

While the Chouteau Greenway hopes to promote equity and governance, Trautman said it is up to residents to decide what that looks like.

After the presentation, attendees were asked to anonymously share their hopes for what the Chouteau Greenway could bring to the area.

“I want to change gentrification and chopping up neighborhoods for development, in order to preserve affordable housing,” wrote one resident from the Franz Park neighborhood.

A resident of Dogtown was concerned with “changing transportation in STL, in order to connect our neighborhoods and experience our city.”

Overwhelmingly, residents wrote they’d like to experience connectivity among all the neighborhoods in St. Louis City. Many said they wanted to be able to experience using bike share programs.

According to Great Rivers Greenway, funding for the Chouteau Greenway project would come from fundraising, private donors and tax revenue from Great Rivers.

Trautman pointed to cities such as Boston, Indianapolis and New York City as examples in which urban planning and public survey have been successful. Great Rivers Greenway says they will not begin building anything without the public’s consent.

“One thing about our greenways is that we do not work where we are not wanted,” she said.