Dispute over future of St. Louis County ice center

CLAYTON, Mo. – The future practice home of the St. Louis Blues may be in jeopardy.  This uncertainty comes after the St. Louis County Council overwhelmingly approved a plan in December to build four ice rinks in Creve Coeur Lake Park.

Wednesday afternoon, the county council and St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger met on the issue following Tuesday night's heated debate between Stenger and Councilman Sam Page, where the council appeared to backtrack on its support for ice rinks after Page said more time was needed to study the proposal following opposition to the development.

The meeting once again had both sides give presentations after the council voted 4-3 in a non-binding resolution to pause construction last night.

“You know, it's a $60 million facility by our home team," Stenger said. "It just sends a bad message.”

Stenger said the council's action Tuesday night to reverse course and delay the estimated $60 million complex that would feature 4 ice rinks, 3 indoor and 1 outdoor, and use about 40 acres of the more than 2,000 acres of Creve Coeur Lake Park.

Council chairman Sam Page said he was misled about the project; concerns have been raised about tree and brush removal, along with grading work that Stenger said was already finished.  He pointed out that Page himself introduced the bill approving the project, which the council unanimously passed, with four public hearings and ample time to dissect every aspect of the development.

“I think ultimately the project moves forward.  That initial phase of grading is complete.  I'm optimistic that it will receive the federal approval that's required for its completion," Stenger said. "This is a state of the art facility that's going to be used by the public that we don't have to pay for. It's fantastic.  Someone else is going to pay for it and it's going to have 95 percent public use.”

Stenger mentioned federal approval. The National Parks Service must still sign off on this deal.  That won't happen until the Missouri Department of Natural Resources completes its own environmental assessment and sends its findings to the park service.  The Blues hope to be practicing in the park by fall 2018.