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QuikTrip Public Comments Heavily Against Relocation

Maplewood city council listened to anyone who wanted to speak about the issue on Tuesday, and the session went for over an hour.

With manager Marty Corcoran making sure no one went over three minutes, 28 people spoke, for an hour and ten minutes, on the proposed relocation at the Maplewood City Council meeting on Tuesday.

The council chamber was standing-room only, with over 100 people who came to listen or comment.

The comment session was the first public meeting on the proposed move to the northwest corner of Manchester Road and Big Bend Boulevard since the planning and zoning commission gave its recommendation for approval at its meeting.

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The city council let QuikTrip representatives go first.

Allan Renner, real estate manager for QuikTrip, said a 5,600 square foot Generation 3 QuikTrip store is planned.

“The store will have more fresh food, plus a coffee barista and soft serve ice cream, and gasoline, we’ll have eight pumps [the traffic study sponsored by QuikTrip states there will be 16 pumps, four more than at the current location] at the corner, as you can see by the drawing.”

He said the current store is obsolete. “It’s old. It’s been there for 25 years. We need to upgrade that store,” he said. “We’d like to upgrade it here in Maplewood.”

Traffic engineer Lee Cannon said pedestrian safety was focus of the traffic study, and that St. Louis County has already approved it the plan.

Corcoran asked him if he had updated the study to include the CVS store. The original study had not. Cannon said no, and that he’d have it to Corcoran in 10 to 12 days.

Dan Lesseg, the son of the owner of the lot, spoke for the current lease-holder, Nadir Djavaherian, and himself, in favor of the move. He said the proposal “addresses the concerns of the residents and parents, while still preserving Mrs. Lesseg’s right to own her own private property.”

The majority of speakers, from then on, didn’t agree with Lesseg.

Jeff Kiefer, the sponsor of a petition against the move, said the petition had signatures from 490 Maplewood residents, 149 Richmond Heights residents, 33 from outside the MRH area, which is more than a petition sponsored by QuikTrip, after validation.

Tonya Powell, mother of three MRH students who have to cross the intersection said the proposal makes a dangerous intersection even more dangerous.

She said her son was hit last year crossing with the light in the crosswalk. “Luckily it was only his saxophone case that flew out into the intersection,” she said.

Janice Jackson of Richmond Heights, said she has taught for 31 years and no other school in St. Louis has a situation like this. “I can’t believe on a day like today, when we should be celebrating the school district that this is what we’re fighting for.”

MRH school board vice president Francis Chmelir said the board has asked for a comprehensive safety study coupled with the addition of the CVS Pharmacy, and that he’s heartened to hear that may be forth-coming. He said because they haven’t seen a comprehensive study, the board still opposes the move.

He said QuikTrip, in their presentation at the planning and zoning commission, said they have, “thrown several things on the table that they’d like to participate in.”

“While this is true, we do not feel that offers such as purchasing new basketball uniforms, providing scholarships, making a donation to Joe’s Place, or with providing MRH students with discounts to their store solves the fundamental issue at hand, which is safety and increased traffic in the neighborhood.”

Cindy McCandless said she has two children in MRH and is a teacher in another district with a QuikTrip and a bakery not too far down the road.

“We have had students skip class in order to run down, try and rush, get hit crossing the street,” she said. She said the stated 27-year history of no fatalities at the intersection doesn’t pertain to the intersection with the QuikTrip.

Virgil Tipton said he has two students at MRH.

He said the study was stated to be focused on pedestrian safety. “The few accidents were caused by inappropriate behavior and jaywalking. Do you think moving QuikTrip here would cause children and teenagers to stop jaywalking? Probably not,” he said. “If I was doing a study based on pedestrian safety I would include every pedestrian.”

Caroline Strong said MRH students are taught to be out in the community, and mentioned the students at the Early Childhood Center.

She said field trips are an important part of the ECC students’ education and if the QT were built those field trips would no longer be safe. She said it would change how the children are taught, which is one of the main reasons young families move to the MRH district.

Dillon Long said he went to MRH Middle School and attended the high school but no longer does.

“While I was there, I definitely noticed that crossing that intersection, especially in the morning during rush hour was really dangerous,” he said. He said he had a near-miss with a car.

“With the CVS and the new QuikTrip, I don’t think it’s going to become any more safer. I think quite the opposite,” he said.

He said it would be dangerous for the 16 and 17-year-old drivers arriving in the morning, to drive through the intersection to drive up Martini Avenue.

Adrian Glass, owner of the and Grill, spoke on behalf of board of directors of the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce.

He said the chamber’s mission is to further the development of the business community in Maplewood, “and that being said, we support the relocation.”

After the meeting Corcoran said the issue will probably be on the agenda for the next council meeting, but with the update on the traffic study still out, he couldn’t confirm when a vote would be taken.

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Fish4Life August 16, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Regular Guy - How do you know that they have not done this? Also, these children that cross the street do not cross where they should like Mr. Harsh has pointed outl. No one complained about CVS going in. What about the traffic conjestion that will cause? Students will leave campus to go there if they chose and cross over 2 major streets. Also, I believe Martini will no longer go all the way through to Manchester. Where are the teachers when these students are skipping school to go to the other stores, 7-11, D-Mart, Wongs, White Castle, Jack in the Box and Shell?
Fish4Life August 16, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Good Job Bob!
Gary E Holt August 16, 2012 at 03:35 AM
That's a good point. I'm sure if they had met, we would have heard about it.
Gary E Holt August 16, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Jeff. Let's don't start called people liars. That's a bit harsh, especially for you. As well-informed as you are on this subject, you MIGHT not all ALL the facts.
Jeff Kiefer August 16, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I just deleted two of my posts that pertained to the way I felt about Alan Renner's performance at the P&Z meeting. I did not resort to name calling or call anyone a liar. But I did say that he was not truthful and I stand behind that. I delete them not because they were not true or that I regret posting them. But they were focused on the past and for a a moment I dwelt there. I have strong feelings about how he handled some things that night. But I realize I must move forward and not dwell in the past. To those that hold hope in the school board/parents and QT finding it in the "better angels of their nature" to negotiate I wanted to speak that I was not so hopeful considering what I witnessed at the P&Z meeting. Perhaps I ignored my own better angels, not by my posts but by dwelling in the past. I stand by what I said and deleted not because it was not truthful. But because it does not move us forward.
Nancy Miner August 16, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I too was courious to know if QT and the School Board had met since the P&Z meeting. There were not changes to QT's drawings so I wondered if any progress had been made. I spoke with QT's lawyer, John King, after Tuesday's meeting. He told me that he had met with the School Board. It was his opinion that some of the changes QT offered are now being re-considered by the Board. He did not elaborate further. At this point I'm glad to know that they are talking.
Doug Miner August 16, 2012 at 03:31 PM
This morning I went to the Manchester-Big Bend intersection to count kids crossing to MRH, and Bob Harsh was already there, so we chatted and he kept count. Here are his numbers for the 2nd day of school. They're up from yesterday. 27 students crossed Big Bend ( White Castle to Scooter store). 13 students crossed Manchester Rd (Shell Station to Scooter store). 11 students crossed Manchester Rd down by the Jack in the Box - this was in the middle of the street - against heavy flow of traffic. A crossing guard (MRH employee, Bob recognized him) got there at 7:13 and stayed until 8:00.
Jeff Kiefer August 16, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Nancy and others, I spoke to Maria Langston, MRH BOE President, today to get from her what meetings had taken place. Maria did not have her planner in front of her so I do not have exact dates. Here is a summary of those meetings. The board has met with QT staff twice and their attorney once. Once in the late winter where QT presented to the entire board their plans for the site. The second meeting was with three board members, Karen Hall the superintendent, Marty Corcoran, city manager and Mayor White. This was a breakfast meeting and it occurred in the weeks prior to the P&Z meeting. The week after the P&Z meeting three board members and Karen Hall were asked to meet with John King, QT's attorney. At that meeting the board gave their requests to Mr. King. They requested that QT provide a more through traffic audit and that their proposal be altered to not include Martini access. In a letter written by Mr. King to the Board he gave QT's reply which was in essence that they felt their proposal was safe and that no alterations would be made. There have been no other meetings since.
Gary E Holt August 16, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Please state facts only. I know this is an emotional subject to some. If I'm reading your sentence correctly, you state there will be "hundreds of cars per hour. . ." on Martini. I believe that is an over-statement. I seriously doubt if there will be a TOTAL of hundreds of cars an hour entering and exiting from all routes into the QT. In addition, if the school already believes this entire intersection is "dangerous", they should have a crossing guard there right now. Please . . . everyone needs to state facts and no one should resort to name-calling, which is now happening in this discussion.
Gary E Holt August 16, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Many people have stated they don't want QT there . . . period. Under any circumstances.
Gary E Holt August 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Exactly what is the difference between saying Alan was "not truthful" and Alan is a liar? Just asking.
Gary E Holt August 16, 2012 at 10:23 PM
The drawings are just that: drawings. They are not an official rendering.
Gary E Holt August 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Jeff: Thanks for the up-date.
mormit August 17, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Thanks for the update. It is disappointing that QT's land management and development groups have not lived up to the expectations I had from an otherwise good company. Equally disappointing that QT has been not as upfront and negotiable as CVS. I had concerns going into the CVS development but their representatives were quick to address local concerns. The CVS representatives voiced solutions on the spot that were worked into their plans. Did we get everything we wanted? No. Did they accommodate their plans? Yes. In the end, we arrived at something most could live with. That approach of community engagement and problem solving is what is lacking in QT's plan. That is why I cannot support it in its current form.
MUTiger87@gmail.com August 17, 2012 at 02:34 AM
It is very interesting that in two mornings 36 kids blatantly broke the rules and crossed in the middle of Manchester during one of the busiest times of the day. If they get hit the fault will rest completely with the masses of texting, hotzie eating, coffee drinking drivers.... Also interesting is that even with all of the talk concerning children's safety it took a comment from a Patch poster to get a crossing guard out there. Me thinks someone has a little urban chicken egg on their face...
MUTiger87@gmail.com August 17, 2012 at 02:47 AM
One more thing, I was not able to attend the meeting on Tuesday but were the sheeple really pointing their fingers at the council and saying they would blame THEM if their children were hit by a car? Really?!
Heath Moylan August 17, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Gary, I am using the numbers provided by Quik Trip's traffic study. As Jeff K pointed out in an earlier comment (and I also have a copy of the study to verify it): "Using Quick Trip's numbers from their traffic study which is all we have to go on they say there will be 585 trips into/out of the site during peak AM hour. 1/3 of those trips or 194 will be via the Martini entrance...again QT's estimates".
Gary K Lee August 17, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Regardless of what happens, I think I'll keep buying gas at U Gas on Hanley where I get a 5-cent cash discount.
Heath Moylan August 17, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Gary, I agree it's a mix of opinions and I honestly couldn't tell you what the split is or who's willing to compromise and who isn't. At the moment, the debate is all about one particular plan and different people have different reasons for opposing it, but all opponents agree it's a bad plan. My point is that this opposition is not simply a knee-jerk reaction against progress as the previous comment asserted, and there are reasons this development is seeing much more opposition than the CVS right across the street.
Gary K Lee August 17, 2012 at 04:39 AM
If this whole deal falls through, what is QT going to do? I'm concerned they might leave Maplewood, which I wouldn't want to see happen.
Gary E Holt August 17, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Go right ahead.
mormit August 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM
I agree. I would not want to see QT leave and Allan Renner did float that threat in his comments Tuesday. Let's think about that critically. Would QT leave a thriving location just because they want to upgrade the store? They just upgraded the interior two years ago with no disruption to daily business. They can do it where they are. Where would they go? They have a customer base right here. If they go more than a mile in any direction, another convenience store/gas station gets that business and they know it. I would not be surprised if contingency plans for Deer Creek were in the works as a Plan B. Renner is the real estate manager so it is his job to say what he needs to get the move done. What it comes down to for me, is that I don't think QT is going to go home, cry in their pillow, and run out of town to leave a profitable location if turned down on this ill-conceived plan. The traffic control of their proposal is just flat out bad.
TP August 17, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Yes - I did and I will. What you missed from what I said is that MY son was hit last year while walking IN the crosswalk, WITH the light and still ended up laying on the hood of a car because the driver wasn't paying attention to kids and was trying to cheat the right hand turn onto Mancester from Big Bend. He is not the only one. Increasing traffic at the intersection AND routing a third of it down the alley by the school is going to increase the volume of impatient and inattentive drivers entering and leaving the area where kids are walking to school. It is a recipe for disaster and only a matter of time until someone ends up under the tires instead of across the hood. If the council allows this plan to proceed as proposed without demanding better safety measures for our kids then YES. It WILL be their fault and I'll repeat the words I used at the meeting - the blood will be on THEIR hands. The council has the authority and the responsibility to do the right thing and keep this area safe. It's their job and what we voted them in to do.
MUTiger87@gmail.com August 17, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Extremist anyone? Their fault, that's rich. Not the driver of the car and certainly not the kid. But the City Council members. Maybe in some way it could be extended to the council but I would also place fault with the manufacturer of the car that is being driven and whomever prepared the food that they are eating. Possibly the maker of their cell phone and the servicer. Probably the maker of the sunglasses the driver is wereing to. I get it now thanks for the clearing it up. I am all for safety and heaven forbid a child is injured but think if this is such an issue that the hischool should be the ones to help keep the area safe. If I am right they did not think to do this for 80 years until Wednesday. Maybe they could hire two crossing guards for this intersection. How much would that cost for 2 hrs a day? Also maybe the police should start writing tix to all the jaywalkers?
Ian Storm August 17, 2012 at 02:44 PM
MUTiger, I think we've got a pretty good discourse here where we can discuss concerns, wishes, desires for this proposal in an adult way. I appreciate that the Patch gives us this forum, and I also appreciate that the City Council held the session this week and didn't just go ahead and vote on a proposal that clearly needed more thinking time.
Ian Storm August 17, 2012 at 02:48 PM
To the comments that seem to be accusing the school for negligence in not currently having a crossing guard, do you understand that the issue isn't just the intersection as it stands but how it will be AFTER putting in a CVS and a QT. Both of those retailers attract many more cars per day than the Scooter shop or Car lot. This is the crux of the matter, and why a large number of people simply want the Council and QT to hold serious discussions about the best way to handle this project. Can Martini be closed off to northbound traffic? Can Martini be diverted across the top of the QT lot to come out at a light on Big Bend? Can Martini be made one way? There is so much to discuss, and the proposal as it currently stands does not really address a lot of the concerns.
TP August 17, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It's an extreme situation & one I take quite seriously. Would the driver be responsible for their actions - of course - nobody said they wouldn't. But if the council approves this development without requiring concessions for student safety when they already know the intersection is dangerous & despite the residents imploring them to put safety first then they're also responsible. They have the opportunity NOW to decrease risk. They have hundreds of people asking them to decrease the risk & protect our kids. If they disregard that & do not even try to make any effort to increase safety then they are also responsible. The school has been paying for crossing guards for several years. This is not a new challenge for them, but it is an increase in difficulty. Please remember that Big Bend/Manchester is only one of the safety concerns. The high volume of traffic routed to Martini & the lack of lanes or curbs on that side of QT's plan are more dangerous than the Big Bend Manchester issue. You say the school should take responsibility for the safety, & they are the ones paying for the crossing guard and sending out extra staff, but at the same time they are also using their staff to monitor kids entering their property at several differnt points, loading & unloading school busses & supervising the children already in the building. I don't think they can reasonably cover every point withing a 1 block buffer of their property. They need help not additional dangers.
TP August 17, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Ian - I couldn't agree more. These are all the questions that need to be asked and the conversations that need to take place. There is a lot of work to be done before this matter could possbily be resolved and it is going to take some very creative thinking and willingness to work together. Unfortunately we haven't seen that from all of the parties involved, but I applaud those that have thus far and will continue to reach out and work for a solution that does not endanger our children.
Babsgarcia August 23, 2012 at 10:24 PM
I must admit I disagree with mormit...I do beleive QT will look for additional space to move. If you look around the entire County, they have been moving and upgrading QT's all over town. A move up Big Bend into Webster Groves would not be out of the question--plenty of questionable plots of land along there--the other end of big bend too quiet at night (N of Manchester)... Or they could put it over on Hanley where they use to be before Walmart, and give the tax dollars to Brentwood... lots of could go up or down accross that entire strip or even move into RH with that entire re-development going on...
Denise September 01, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I didn't read all the comments, so if this has already been mentioned, I apologize. Has anyone thought of adding an additional crosswalks, where the kids would cross only one road at a time and not at the busy intersection. They could cross Manchester, maybe by the city hall, where there is already a cross walk. A second cross walk could be across Big Bend closer to the school itself. As a person who lives in this area, I see kids ALL day long crossing not in the cross walk, across all the lanes of traffic at Manchester, and the cross walk is just feet away from them. There are ways to make this work, but the kids must take responsibilty also for crossing safely. If children will not follow the rules of the road, maybe they are not ready to walk to and fro from school. As far as the young man who was hit at the cross walk. That must have been very scary for the child, the parents, and the driver. I am glad to hear that he is ok.

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