At its Jan. 11 meeting, the Town & Country Board of Aldermen unanimously approved an ordinance to end an improvements project for the intersection of Clayton and Ballas roads.
City Administrator Robert Shelton said the ordinance is a mutual agreement with St. Louis County to terminate the project, which dates back to 2013.
In order for Town & Country to gain easements for the project, St. Louis County required the city to become compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, such as construct ramps, signal improvements and roadway improvements within the county’s right-of-way.
According to Shelton, the city completed all of the work and obtained all of the easements except for right-of-way easements owned by Scott Properties at the northwest corner.
He said the property owner was offered a certified appraised value of $156,000 for the easements; however, the property owner requested $1 million for temporary and permanent easements.
Scott Properties was ultimately offered approximately $360,000.
“We worked continually with that property owner for alternative parking arrangements and they were not able to be reached,” Shelton said.
He added that the city and county mutually agreed not to go forward with the project. In the agreement, the county is to reimburse the city $22,000, and Town & Country is to reimburse the county grant funds used to pay for the project.
An email addressed to the city from former alderwoman Lindsey Butler, read at the meeting, expressed concerns about the termination of the project. Specifically, Butler claimed that the “project was delayed due to (the city) requesting handling the easements instead of allowing (the) county to do so” and that “the city, not the county, made the decision to abandon this project even after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on easements and legal bills.”
In the email, Bulter said her statements were based on “documents discovered during a Sunshine Law request of (the) county’s records,” which were related to her call for an independent state performance audit of the city. She urged the board to “reach out to (the) county prior to voting” on the topic.
Alderman Pam Holman (Ward 1) said she called St. Louis County to confirm the agreement. She said St. Louis County along with Town & Country wanted to nullify the project together and that this was not an independent decision.
“They do not believe that any nefarious actions took place,” Holman said. “This project needs to be nullified so if any projects were to move forward at that intersection, this project needs to be put to bed.”