Before today’s special meeting of the Board of Aldermen, I thanked them for their leadership on the BJC issue — and for their willingness to set aside the interests of individual wards for the good of the City. I have been around the second floor of City Hall for 20 years, and I believe this is one of the best Boards I have ever seen here. The Board’s actions and the actions of some other officials — make a blueprint for addressing future difficult, controversial, but important, matters.
In the matter of the BJC lease, four aldermen — Lyda Krewson, Freeman Bosley, Fred Wessels and Steve Conway — sat through hours of negotiations to work out better financial details. The aldermanic Black Caucus led by Terry Kennedy and April Ford Griffin worked out a fair compromise — and then opposed language that would have benefited themselves — because they were concerned about other aldermen. Alderman Fred Wessels was instrumental in moving the bills forward even though they contained language that he opposed because he trusts his fellow aldermen to fix it later. The bills’ sponsor, Alderman Joe Roddy, was forceful and articulate.
Others, including the Comptroller’s office, played important roles in improving and codifying the financial details. The Forest Park Advisory Board, led by Gentry Sayad, made the proposal better in many ways, including insisting on a requirement to set aside green space when BJC develops the land. Forest Park Forever agreed to match the BJC money. Dr. Donald Suggs and Walle Amusa were articulate advocates for the interests of the African American community. And BJC withstood a torrent of unwarranted criticism — and agreed to continue its mission in the City of St. Louis.
I was proud to work on this issue. And I walked over to the Board this morning to tell them so.