Today’s vote was a long time coming. It was the right thing to do for Forest Park and our City, and for BJC.
BJC is our City’s biggest employer. They have asked us to extend this lease because they want to invest money and create new jobs in our City. That is a very good thing.
But, BJC’s commitment to our City goes beyond jobs. BJC is one of the best hospital systems in the country. They provide free medical care to
the underinsured and uninsured. And while so many other hospitals left the City for the suburbs, BJC has stayed and expanded.
This agreement is also good for Forest Park. The City is leveraging an underused piece of property that is outside the parameters of what most people think of as Forest Park. BJC already has a long-term lease for this property, which it uses as a parking garage.
This amendment to the lease will generate $3.8 million a year to maintain the improvements in Forest Park. It will free up $1.2 million a year to fix up other City parks and $400,000 for recreational programs for children.
Forest Park is a jewel one of the best urban parks in America. Even with all of the benefits to our economy, I would have opposed this lease
if it hurt the park. It does not.
I have asked the Board of Aldermen to meet next week to approve this proposal. If the Board does so, it will be an important step forward for