RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Jones at 8:07 a.m. in the Board Room at the Police Department, 300 Park Drive. The meeting was open to the public and notice was posted in the 24-hour lobby of Ballwin Police Department, the Government Center, and The Pointe on the Wednesday preceding the meeting. Those in attendance were Mayor Jones, Aldermen Easter, Buermann, Suozzi, McCarthy, Robinson, Boland, Gatton. Also in attendance were City Administrator Kuntz, Assistant City Administrator Aiken, City Engineer Kramer, Director of Parks and Recreation Bruer, Police Chief Biederman, City Attorney Lucchesi, Alderman-Elect Lembke, and Human Resource Coordinator Morrison.
Mayor Jones said the primary purpose of this meeting is to discuss the results of the focus groups that had recently been held regarding the issue of the City of Ballwin’s community image. He stated that prior to the discussion, City Administrator Kuntz had some minor questions relative to some procedures and policies of the Board of Aldermen.
BOARD & COMMISSION APPRECIATION DINNER
City Administrator Kuntz asked that the Board of Aldermen review its policy concerning the employee picnic, the bi-annual Board and Commission appreciation dinner, and the annual business appreciation event. He explained that the City picnic has evolved into a somewhat different event than is described in the current policy and asked that the Board consider a revision so that the event could be held in different forms, manners and locations as is deemed appropriate in any given year. In the case of the appreciation dinner, he explained that this has not been held for a couple of years and asked for direction from the Board as to how it should be conducted. He suggested that if the Board wants to continue the appreciation dinner, perhaps the chairman of the various boards and commissions should not also be invited to the annual holiday party. Mr. Kuntz also asked the Board to give some thought to the business appreciation event. He noted that this event has taken several different forms over the years, but attendance has not been very good except in the years that free golf was offered. He said there is very little opportunity in most of these events for the business people to enter into any kind of meaningful dialogue or communications with representatives of the City. City Administrator Kuntz cited the difficulty that Dr. Warren had in getting business community participation in his focus group as a reflection of the lack of interest on the part of the business community in being involved with the City in any kind of formal event. He questioned the effectiveness and value of this event.
Alderman Easter agreed that the business community does not appear to be interested in participating in such events. She noted that as a member of the former Business Retention and Development committee, that it was difficult to attract members to the committee, it was difficult to get members of the committee to attend the meetings, and there was little feedback coming from the committee to assist the City in any formulation of policy or activity.
Mayor Jones stated that the measure of success of such events depends on what outcome is expected. If dialogue is wanted, the City needs to take a different approach to solicit such input. If the City only intends to show an appreciation for the business community, then a golf outing or cocktail hour may be an appropriate way to proceed.
Alderman McCarthy suggested that it may be better to spend the money that is otherwise utilized on a golf outing or cocktail party to promote the City of Ballwin with the greater St. Louis Metropolitan area business community in an attempt to solicit additional business activities in this area. City Administrator Kuntz noted that even the Chamber of Commerce is having difficulty in attracting participation from the business community. The Chamber of Commerce’s annual auction was recently cancelled because lack of participation from the membership.
Ray Lembke noted that he has conducted his business in the City of Manchester for several years and that community has conducted an annual Christmas business luncheon. He noted that attendance had been declining for the last several years and the event was cancelled in 2001. He noted that the West St. Louis County Chamber of Commerce recently conducted a series of meetings focused on business in Manchester. The first one was well attended, but the subsequent meeting had less attendance and the third meeting hardly had anyone in attendance at all. He noted that in his efforts to contact the business community during the recently parks tax initiative, he was surprised at the lack of support from the business community both for the tax and for any communications or input from the City of Ballwin. He asked what the City of Ballwin could do for the individual business. They were not able to provide any concrete list of activities that they felt the City of Ballwin should be providing.
Mayor Jones noted that the City of Sunset Hills combines its annual Board and Commission appreciation event and the business appreciation event into a single activity. He noted it is well attended. He suggested that a golf outing may be a good way to do this in the City of Ballwin.
Don Essen noted that there are limits to what the City can do to encourage communication with non-local business managers. These people are here for a relatively short period of time and are primarily concerned with the operation of their business location and communicating with the home office. They see very little reason to be involved in the local community or government. Mr. Essen recommended that each of the Aldermen meet periodically with the managers of the businesses in their wards. They should make it clear to the businesses that any questions or issues that arise relative to the City of Ballwin can be communicated to the individual Alderman who will get a response or answer to the question. He recommended that at the time the Alderman visits the business, they should provide the business with a list of contact people and phone numbers, so that any questions that come up could be addressed to the appropriate individuals.
Alderman Boland said he believes that many businesses just want Ballwin officials to stay away and let them conduct their business.
Alderman Buermann asked if the City of Ballwin has a formalized effort in place to find out why businesses leave the City. City Administrator Kuntz said that such efforts have been made on an informal basis, particularly with larger businesses. Generally speaking, it is very difficult to find anyone who can or is willing to talk to the City in this situation. The Red Lobster is a good example. Ballwin was unable to establish the reason that this business chose to relocate to Chesterfield Valley after having had, what appeared to be a successful business in the City of Ballwin for over 30 years.
Alderman Suozzi stated that the idea of combining the Board and Commission and Business Appreciation events into a single combined social event is a good idea.
Alderman Robinson stated he believes that business people are too busy to care much about things like Christmas cards, visits from the Aldermen, or directories of telephone numbers. The only thing they really care about is what the City of Ballwin can do to help them with their business at the immediate point that an issue is at hand.
It was the consensus of the Board of Aldermen that a Fall event in 2002, combining the boards and commissions and businesses into a single appreciation event organized around a golf outing should be undertaken.
City Administrator Kuntz explained that he would like authorization from the Board of Aldermen to present a policy amendment that would change the description of the employee picnic from a single annual event to a description that would allow a variety of different approaches to this event. The Board authorized the presentation of a policy amendment for its consideration at a future Board meeting.
City Administrator Kuntz said in 2002, which is the 25th anniversary of Ballwin Days, the event has been moved to June because of pending construction work in the park. He said there has been a lot of discussion among the Board, staff, and members of the Ballwin Days committee as to whether or not the traditional Ballwin Days event with all of its associated elements should continue to be conducted in the manner that it has. He noted that the Ballwin Days Committee has had increased difficulty in obtaining and retaining volunteers and the participation of other organizations. Mayor Jones said the annual Ballwin Days event is physically hard on Vlasis Park. If the weather is wet and rainy, the fields becomes badly rutted and torn up. If the weather is dry, the foot and vehicular traffic makes it difficult for the grass to recover. He also noted that the parade substantially ties up traffic on Manchester Road throughout surrounding communities.
Rick Dolgin, of Frick’s Restaurant, asked what the purpose of Ballwin Days was. Robert Pisarkiewicz stated that the original intent of Ballwin Days was to have a big party for Ballwin to celebrate itself. He noted that this event has become much bigger than it had been in the beginning and may involve substantially more people from outside of the community than had been experienced in the early years of the event.
Tom Moorkamp, Ballwin Days Committee Chairman, stated that Ballwin Days is a celebration of the community. He does not agree with the statements that the event is hard on the park or that the parade is creating an unacceptable problem for traffic. He believes that the future of Ballwin Days is closely tied to the way people look at the whole issue of community and volunteerism. He believes that the loss of volunteers is primarily the result of the lack of appreciation of the efforts of the volunteers by the Board of Aldermen. Mr. Moorkamp stated that commercial endeavors should be allowed to participate in Ballwin Days by partnering with a charitable group and that the Board of Aldermen’s recent policy prohibiting such partnerships was harmful to the event.
Mayor Jones stated that the Board of Aldermen created the policy prohibiting commercial participation because they were approached by representatives of the Ballwin Days Committee that stated that the organization wanted this to happen. Tom Moorkamp stated that the Board of Aldermen considered this policy when he was not present and this is not the position that he believes the committee took relative to this issue. Alderman Boland stated that he agrees with Mayor Jones. The prohibition of participation by commercial endeavors was requested by Frank Rogers, co-chairman of the Ballwin Days Committee. He recalls that this particular issue was addressed during at least two meetings of the Board of Aldermen before the policy was adopted.
Alderman Easter stated that she agrees that Ballwin Days was originally intended to be a community event. It was for Ballwin residents. She said it is no longer a meeting of people from the Ballwin area. It draws from a much larger portion of the Metropolitan St. Louis area. Jim Cox, Planning & Zoning Commission chairman, stated that he does not believe that Ballwin Days was originally intended to be limited exclusively to Ballwin residents. He noted that many of the original Ballwin Days committee members were not residents of the City of Ballwin and that people from at least the greater Ballwin area always attended this event. He acknowledged that the event is larger today than it was when it was originally formed, but he noted that the City of Ballwin and the West County Metropolitan area is much more populous today than it was 25 years ago.
Tom Moorkamp stated that any elimination of the carnival rides would seriously hurt the Ballwin Days event, particularly from an economic perspective. A major portion of the revenue is derived from the carnival rides.
Alderman Robinson stated that he does not want to see Ballwin Days end. He believes that it is popular with the community and very much a signature event for the City of Ballwin. He does not believe that people coming from all over the greater St. Louis area is necessarily a bad thing, and he would like to see the event get even bigger if possible.
Tom Moorkamp asked if the Board of Aldermen would allow the committee to make some changes to the nature of the annual event and see if these things are successful. He asked that the Board of Aldermen work with him and the committee to allow it to experiment in this manner. Alderman McCarthy said it may be time for the City of Ballwin and the Ballwin Days Committee to take a serious hard look at the purpose and nature of the Ballwin Days event. It may be time to begin doing things that have not been done in the past, to cease doing things that have always been done in the past, and maybe to do some things differently. City Administrator Kuntz concurred with Alderman McCarthy and recommended that a special committee be set up to discuss the issue of Ballwin Days and its role in the City of Ballwin. Mayor Jones agreed that it is important to establish an ongoing dialogue between the Board of Aldermen and the Ballwin Days Committee relative to the event. It was agreed that Aldermen Suozzi, Easter, and Buermann would serve on a special committee representing the Board of Aldermen to discuss Ballwin Days. Tom Moorkamp asked if it would be acceptable to the Board that he get representatives to be on this committee not only from Ballwin Days, but also from some of the service organizations that have participated in the event over the years. It was agreed by the Board of Aldermen and Mayor Jones that this was an appropriate way to move forward and asked Mr. Moorkamp to provide the City with a list of people who would participate in this committee.
FINE ARTS COMMISSION
Director of Parks and Recreation Bruer explained that the Commission is somewhat at a loss as to what its role should be, but it believes it should be provided with a budget and a full-time executive director for its purposes. She explained that many members of the Commission work full-time and are working artists. They do not have time to do the nuts and bolts things to facilitate the function of the Fine Arts Commission.
Alderman Buermann stated that the need for a staff and a budget is a new issue to him. It was his understanding that the Fine Arts Commission was something of a grass roots organization that was self-directed and operating within its own resources. He was not familiar with their budgetary and manpower problems. Alderman Robinson stated that it seems to him the Fine Arts Commission is a group without direction. He’s concerned about the group’s not being interested in working with the Ballwin Days Committee to hold its annual art event at the same time.
Mayor Jones said he believes the City of Ballwin needs to have a role in the visual and performing arts. He believes the commission is necessary to achieve that end and there needs to be better communication between the Fine Arts Commission and the Board of Aldermen in order to facilitate this end. Alderman Gatton stated he also believes the City of Ballwin should promote visual and performing art in the City. He said the City of Philadelphia has a "5% for the arts" requirement for all developments within the community. He suggested that perhaps this approach might be something the City of Ballwin could consider. He also suggested the possibility of the City of Ballwin sponsoring an arts/crafts show through the Fine Arts Commission. Director of Parks and Recreation Bruer explained that the Fine Arts Commission has held one craft show in Vlasis Park. It is not interested in holding an event in conjunction with Ballwin Days. She noted that in 2002, there simply is not adequate time for the Parks and Recreation staff to set up a fine arts event in May or June and then set up for Ballwin Days in late June. She noted also that the City of Ballwin, prior to the creation of the Fine Arts Commission has sponsored arts and crafts events at The Pointe with some degree of success. There was no further discussion on this topic.
FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION
City Administrator Kuntz introduced Ken Warren and Craig Simon, who recently conducted a series of Focus Groups with the intent of developing a city logo and overall community image package for utilization by Ballwin in the future.
Dr. Ken Warren presented the results of the four focus groups that were held on the evenings of February 7 and 8. Dr. Warren indicated that 4 group sessions were held. The first consisted of members of staff and appointed officials with the City of Ballwin. The second represented the business community of Ballwin, the third represented residents of the City of Ballwin that had lived here for less than 5 years, and the fourth represented residents of the City of Ballwin that had lived in Ballwin for more than 5 years. He noted that although there were some differences among the various groups and their perspectives of the community, there was remarkable agreement as to the central themes and issues that made the City of Ballwin what it is.
Dr. Warren explained in detail the results of each of the four groups as it is outlined in his report, but noted that the overall conclusions are that the best images for the City of Ballwin were seen as enduring, non-physical concepts such as family, home, children, safe, warm neighborhoods, etc. He noted that all four of the groups identified Manchester Road as being an image for the City of Ballwin, but there were as many negative issues associated with it as positive. The feeling was that if it were to play any kind of role in the logo, it should be a minor one. He noted that it was also agreed by all four groups that the logo should contain at least the word Ballwin and perhaps the term "City of Ballwin". It was the feeling of the groups that depending on the audience, this would vary, but outside of the St. Louis Metropolitan area, individuals may not understand that Ballwin is a municipality, should they receive correspondence.
Craig Simon of AKA explained that he participated in the focus groups and believes that he received a great deal of information that will be useful to him. He noted that most of his work is still ahead, but he believes that he can draw on the results of the focus groups to produce logos and related city image materials that reflect the images raised in the focus groups.
City Administrator Kuntz explained that he and the City Administrators from the Lafayette Area Mayors’ Association conducted a series of visioning exercises of each other’s municipalities. A summary was enclosed in the aldermanic packet. He explained that the purpose of this was to provide some insight to the boards and councils as to how their community is viewed by individuals from surrounding municipalities that are familiar with the issues of cities, government and municipal operations. City Administrator Kuntz said he was so impressed with the results of this initial exercise that he asked the department heads in the City of Ballwin to prepare a similar analysis of the city of Ballwin relative to issues of strengths and weaknesses as seen today and possibly into the future. He asked that the Board of Aldermen give some consideration to what it views as the major issues from capital improvements, operations, public relations, and long range planning perspectives.
Alderman Buermann stated he believes that the business infrastructure and the maintenance of a full capacity of business operations in all of the existing business properties is an important issue for the City of Ballwin.
Alderman Suozzi stated that she believes the issue of access management, particularly along Manchester Road is critical and closely related to the issue of a viable dynamic business community.
City Attorney Lucchesi stated that he believes that as long as Ballwin maintains a good quality housing stock and good schools, that it will remain a desirable place to live and the business community will in turn remain stable and dynamic. Alderman Boland stated that affordable housing may become an issue for the City of Ballwin. He noted that it is virtually impossible to buy a house in Ballwin for less than $100,000, and there’s only a handful of houses that are in the $100,000 - $150,000 price range. He raised the question of whether Ballwin should be making an effort to encourage the construction of new housing in an affordable price range. Alderman Robinson stated that he does not believe that affordable housing is an issue for the City of Ballwin. He noted that the value of housing is driven by the market. There is little that a municipality can do to cause housing to be built that is below what the market is demanding. It was also noted that there is a great deal of scattered site section 8 housing in the City of Ballwin. Affordability for people on limited incomes is available through those types of programs.
Alderman Suozzi said community beautification in general is an issue. She said this is not only for the City of Ballwin, having to do with parks, street trees, etc., but the business and residential portions of the community as well.
The issue of infrastructure maintenance was raised. Alderman Buermann asked what infrastructure means in this context. Clearly, street maintenance is something the Board of Aldermen has discussed recently and has been an ongoing issue for the City of Ballwin for many years. Park maintenance, facility maintenance must be included but there are outside jurisdictions such as MSD and the utilities that may also be involved in this kind of issue.
Mayor Jones raised several issues that he believes to be important for the City of Ballwin in the near future. He said State Senator Loudon is in favor of an extension of MetroLink to the West County area. This raises the whole issue of mass transit serving the City of Ballwin. The Chesterfield connector bus line was discussed as one approach that has been utilized to get more employees into the west county area for the various businesses that are having trouble finding employees. Mayor Jones also raised the question of the City of Ballwin investigating the establishment of a charter commission. Ballwin is presently a 4th class city. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with an investigation of becoming a charter community. The issue of relationships with state and federal legislators is important. There have been issues in the recent past where the State and Federal legislators do not seem to be paying attention to the concerns of local government. Perhaps a personal relationship between the Mayor and Board and these elected officials might influence such voting in the future.
Mayor Jones raised the question of commercial development in the City of Ballwin. With Ballwin having created a situation where it is very dependent upon sales tax as its primary source of revenues, the issues of commercial development become more important than ever. The current pending TIF district is a good example of a city-driven development. Although the developer approached the City and request the creation of the district, Ballwin took this issue a step further by creating several districts. It is within the City’s power to initiate additional developments within the additional sub-districts of the TIF district. Ballwin does not have to rely on the existing commercial infrastructure or the development community coming to it to create more development.
Ray Lembke raised the issue of road maintenance and annexation as things the City of Ballwin needs to consider. Road maintenance clearly has been an issue and will continue to be such, but he noted that several surrounding subdivisions adjacent to the City of Ballwin in the south have raised the question of annexation. He also raised the issue of traffic congestion within the City. This clearly ties back to access management which had been raised earlier and also brings in the issues of traffic calming that the city has been considering for several years.
Alderman McCarthy stated the City of Ballwin needs to look at the issues of finding and retaining quality employees. He noted that 3 of the 4 department heads raised this issue in their analysis.
There were no further discussions.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 noon.
Mayor Robert E. Jones
Thomas H. Aiken, A.I.C.P.
Assistant City Administrator