Lucas Park, the somewhat hidden gem bound by St. Charles, 13th, Locust and 14th Street, will be closing in June for a comprehensive renovation project. During the renovations, which will include burning off the old grass and seeding and regrowing new grass in August, the dog park on the north side of the park will stay accessible. Among the improvements are new trash cans, tree trimming, and a complete overhaul of the sprinkler system. The City’s parks department will begin major landscaping improvements in April of 2013.
We sat down with Matt O’Leary, who is heading a renovation task force with members Steve Patterson and Brad Waldrop, and with Kelly Harman Kelsey who is focusing on the children’s playground renovation. They explained that Friends of Lucas park, a not-for-profit community organization, has been very busy raising funds.
They received a $5,000 grant from The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, and just recently a $15,000 “Let’s Play Construction Grant” from the national organization KaBoom, backed up by the Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group. This grant, they said, will be used to construct a new children’s playground on the east side of the park, which is scheduled to be completed in September of this year. The playground on the west side will remain.
The beautification of Lucas park is part of a broader effort to improve safety in the area around the park. A parallel development to the park’s improvements will be the opening of the new Lafayette Preparatory Academy in Christchurch Cathedral on the southeast corner. A significant milestone will be the opening of the Central Library in November. The library’s $80 Million renovation will add a new entrance and cafe on the north side of the building, facing Lucas Park.
Locust Street has been repaved and will become a two-way street between 13th and 14th. This will improve accessibility to the library and certainly make for a more lively and therefore safer environment on the Lucas Park side. The intersection of Locust and 13th Streets will be reconstructed to enhance traffic flow and to improve pedestrian safety.
Kelsey and O’Leary pointed out that they will continue to engage the residential community to help out with neighborhood clean-ups and general maintenance like edging and sweeping. They are also organizing fundraisers, of which the first is going to be held at Baileys’ Range at 920 Olive Street, on Tuesday, May 29th from 5-8 PM. 25% of the proceeds will be donated to Lucas Park. There will be a second fundraising event, a Mouse Race at Christchurch Cathedral on Saturday August 4th.
More information about the efforts of this truly grassroots community group can be found at friendsoflucaspark.blogspot.com Donations can be made on the website through PayPal. To join the Community Table Event at Baileys’ Range this coming Tuesday, please visit the Facebook events page: Community Table Night for Friends of Lucas Park and click the join button.