The Gateway Arch is one of the most visited attractions in the world. For the last 15 or so years, a large group of people and many institutions, including me and my office, have discussed changes to the grounds from which the Arch rises that would make the space more useful, more attractive, and more accessible for residents and visitors.
From a process that I started, a very public, vigorous international design competition produced a plan - and hours of public and private meetings refined it. At least as many hours were spent assembling the mix of private and public financing necessary to pay for it. The competition's winner was announced in 2010. The design concept was presented to the community in 2011. The financing was assembled in 2012.
One assurance I gave everyone involved in the process is that the exercise would not be in vain: it would produce a great design that would actually be built by the Arch's 50th anniversary. CityArchRiver 2015 is on track to do so. Another, is that that I would support the results of the public process.
The central element of the plan is a new park over the highway that will make it possible to walk between the two elements of the Jefferson National Memorial Park - the Arch and the Old Courthouse. It will mean a change - for the better - in how many of us experience the City's most iconic landmark. It is not the only way to connect the Arch grounds to downtown, but it is the only way that we would see that happen in our lifetimes.
Throughout the process, there have been people who wanted to proceed in different directions; others, who would rather have done nothing at all, preferring to concentrate on different issues; and others, who disliked some elements of the new plan. Those viewpoints were carefully considered, but a wider chorus chose to proceed with the plan now before us - and won voters' and corporate support for the money to finance it.
I started our region down this path. I helped shape the public process. But, I have, as promised, not led or influenced the outcome, choosing instead to let it take its own course. But, it is time to start building and I want to make my position very clear. I plan to use the resources of City government and my own energy to support the CityArchRiver 2015 effort.