Bills to make Manhassett trucks go through Richmond Heights defeated
By Toni Bowman and Steve Bowman
The Brentwood Spirit
Two bills to restrict commercial vehicle traffic along Eager Road on the north edge of Brentwood were narrowly defeated by the Brentwood Board of Aldermen on Monday night at city hall.
The aldermen made the decision in a 5-4 vote. Mayor Pat Kelly cast the deciding “no” vote, siding with Andy Leahy, Keith Robertson, Patrick Toohey and Lee Wynn. Those voting “yes” to restrict commercial traffic were Anthony Harper, Thomas Kramer, Cindy Manestar and Maureen Saunders.
Kramer introduced the bills months ago in an attempt to prevent commercial vehicles from passing through Brentwood during construction of the Manhassett Village apartment and condominium complex on the north side of Eager Road. The complex will be located in Richmond Heights, across the street from Brentwood residents who live on the south side of Eager Road. Most of those residents are in Brentwood Forest, where Kramer also lives.
The two bills, No. 5897 and No. 5898, would have forced large construction vehicles to be driven through Richmond Heights, on McCutcheon Road behind the Galleria mall, to access the construction site. But with the defeat of the bills the vehicles are allowed to pass through Brentwood instead, reaching the site via Wrenwood Lane, High School Drive and Eager Road.
Some residents at the meeting are worried that the construction vehicles will make a mess, create safety hazards, damage roadways and worsen traffic congestion. The general response from those who voted down the bills was that any potential problems created by construction traffic would be offset by the benefits of maintaining good relations with Richmond Heights.
Concerns: safety, dirt, congestion, road damage
Six Brentwood residents spoke out in support of the bills during the public comment portion of the meeting on Monday. All live in Brentwood Forest, the area that will be most affected by the construction. They recalled the dust, dirt and debris created by the dismantling of the old Manhassett Village complex in 2004 and 2005 and don’t want to experience it again. They also have concerns about road wear as well as safety concerns with large construction vehicles traveling on residential streets.
“We’re going to have to back up out of our parking places onto these streets with these large construction trucks coming down,” said Eager Road resident Martha Libbra. “We are the only residents on Eager Road and we are asking to be protected by this. Richmond Heights is protecting McCutcheon Road. We’re asking the same protection Richmond Heights is giving their people.”
Said Pat Ebeling of Peacock Lane, “I do not understand why we would favor Richmond Heights over our own constituents.”
“As alderman … you are supposed to be representing Brentwood,” said Dorothy Needles of Brentwood Forest. “If you want to represent Richmond Heights then you need to move.”
Brentwood Forest resident Lynn Morgan is concerned with large trucks going east on Eager and turning left at the triangular island just northeast of the True Runner store without having to drive over and damage the island.
Later in the meeting, Alderman Leahy addressed the concern. “I expect them to drive straight over it and when they do, they are going to tear it up … and yeah, somewhere along the line, it’s going to be an expense to put it back because the curbs are not going to hold up to it.”
Kramer said residents are justified in complaining of dirt and mud left on the roadways and on residents’ vehicles and property when Manhasset Village apartments were torn down.
“It happened every day and Richmond Heights was charged with responding to those phone calls when there was mud or debris on the road or the road itself was torn up,” he said. “Sometimes there was quite an extensive array of water main breaks that exacerbated the situation. Richmond Heights I can’t say was very responsive.”
An official with the City of Richmond Heights said the city “always has a construction bond” in place to pay for any construction damage that might occur on a project. “The contractor and property owner are responsible for making sure all public rights of way are returned to preconstruction condition,” the official said.
But Kramer likened the situation to having auto damage and having to go through the rigmarole of submitting claims and obtaining repairs. “It’s no fun,” he said.
In a phone interview, Mayor Kelly challenged the Brentwood Spirit to prove that any damage to Eager Road was caused by the 2004-05 teardown rather than by regular wear and tear. As for the upcoming project, he doesn’t want the public to assume there will be damage. He said he prefers to “address the problem when it happens.”
Being a good neighbor
Comments by Kelly and Alderman Toohey, himself a Brentwood Forest resident, seemed to favor city relations with Richmond Heights over any inconveniences Brentwood citizens may experience.
“I don’t think that’s a fair thing for us to do to our neighbors,” Kelly said of the proposed traffic restrictions. “They could make that same restriction on their side of the street and in the future … I truly believe if that property was in our community and we were overseeing that project, we would require them to use Eager Road to get to Brentwood Boulevard and to not use McCutcheon.”
Speaking with the Brentwood Spirit, Toohey said that he felt many in the Brentwood Forest Condo Association have been mislead to focus on inconveniences rather than looking at the big picture of Brentwood working with Richmond Heights long into the future.
“It would be a horrible metropolitan area if no one worked with their neighbors,” said Toohey.
Toohey believes that there hasn’t been enough light brought to the benefits the Manhassett development will bring to Brentwood.
“Where are these people going to shop?” he said. “What about all the real estate taxes that will be going to our school district?”
A study by the firm PGAV projects that the development will bring the Brentwood School District property tax revenue of $52,643 initially and $528,967 by the year 2029, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.