Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis to restore and sustain Forest Park, announced that it has received a gift of $200,000 from the Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation to improve access to the park at its southwest corner — where McCausland Ave., Clayton Rd., Oakland Ave., Skinker Blvd. and I-64 converge — and along Oakland Ave.

This $200,000 gift from the Bernoudy Foundation, combined with a commitment of $200,000 in Ward Capital Improvement funds designated by Aldermen Lyda Krewson (28th Ward) and Scott Ogilvie (24th Ward), is being utilized as the local match required to obtain the $1.6 million in federal dollars awarded to the City of St Louis. Together, these funds will make the $2 million improvement project in Forest Park along its border possible.

Highlights of this project, which will begin in summer 2015 with completion targeted for early 2016, include:

  • Constructing a mile-long sidewalk in Forest Park along Oakland Ave., from Skinker Blvd. east past popular Turtle Playground and connecting to the sidewalk at Hampton Ave.
  • Reducing Oakland to one lane in each direction with 1.9 miles of new “buffered” bicycle lanes
  • Connecting the new sidewalks and bike paths to Forest Park’s recreational path system
  • Creating neighborhood connections with pedestrian sidewalks at both Louisville Ave. and Tamm Ave.
  • Installing new traffic signals with pedestrian indications and crosswalks to create safer access for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Improving 0.9 acres of Forest Park land

“This is one of the most critical entrances leading into Forest Park,” said Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E. “But it’s also the most problematic. Walkers and cyclists will finally have a safer, more welcoming entry to the Park at this highly trafficked location. We are grateful for this generous gift from the Bernoudy Foundation and for our productive partnership with the City of St. Louis and Aldermen Krewson and Ogilvie.”

“We are pleased to support Forest Park Forever and this important project in Bill and Gertrude Bernoudy’s memory,” said John D. Schaperkotter, Trustee of the Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation. “Forest Park is an essential civic asset for St. Louis. Improving how visitors access the park, especially cyclists and walkers, is a goal we are proud to play a role in advancing.”

In 2001, the Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation donated $1 million to Forest Park Forever. This gift was instrumental in funding the creation of the popular recreational path that circles the park. The foundation has made subsequent gifts to help maintain Forest Park’s trails.

“This is an important project for Forest Park and the City of St. Louis,” said Greg Hayes, director of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. “More and more people are entering Forest Park on foot and on bicycle. Their experience at this key connection point, as well as all the way down Oakland Ave., will be dramatically improved.”

The 1995 Forest Park Master Plan, which guides Forest Park Forever’s restoration and improvement projects, made a strong call for improved bike and pedestrian crossings, enhanced neighborhood pathway entrances and the development of new sidewalks to provide a continuous path for pedestrians and cyclists. A 2011 study initiated by the City documented the work needed to improve these intersections and roadways.

The announcement comes at an exciting time for Forest Park Forever. Having established a strong new cooperative agreement with the City in April 2013, the private nonprofit and its City partners are moving forward with a wave of strategic improvement projects — funded by donations to Forest Park Forever — to fulfill the vision of the Forest Park Master Plan. These projects include the recently completed implementation of a new park-wide way-finding system ($1 million), phase one of upgrades to park comfort stations ($485,000) and transforming the deteriorating Upper Muny Lot into a more vibrant and sustainable Festival & Parking Plaza ($3 million).

Source: Forest Park Forever
Image: Forest Park Forever