Creating quality of life in Alton




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Improving Alton

I posted this in response to another article weeks ago, but it seems to fit better here. To make Alton more liveable and attract new residents, city government needs to break out of its antiquated mindset. Some ideas:

1. Stop demolishing buildings left and right. Pay a fraction of the cost to stabilize them instead. Yes, I know grant money covers the demolitions. Much of Soulard and the CWE in St. Louis were once dilapidated as well. The market for their historic homes, even the small ones, has now been thriving for decades.

2. Address the city's aura. Motorcycle noise, litter, public smoking and drunkenness, overgrown lots, and an overemphasis on driving and parking over walking/biking/transit sets us back. We need dense neighborhoods with services in walking distance. Fill in the empty lots and freeze development on town's periphery.

3. Ask outside planners. Alton has some good ideas implemented poorly. The dog park... why did they locate it in the middle of nowhere, next to all that highway noise, instead of buying and fencing 5-6 dispersed neighborhood lots where residents can walk our dogs from our homes? Dog parks are about community, about walking and connecting with neighbors. Forcing people to drive there defeats the purpose and our park is usually empty.

4. Do something about the refinery pollution. Alton nights often become indoors-only affairs because of unbreathable air. This can't be legal.

5. Get some decent bike infrastructure. We don't need anything fancy, but bike lanes would go a long way. Champaign, Bloomington, St. Louis, Chicago, etc. all have this. It's 2015. We need better options than just driving.

6. Improve public transit, especially to St. Louis and North County where many Altonians work. MCT could run express buses down 367 to the CWE or Clayton, as not everyone works in downtown St. Louis.

7. Street cleaners run what, twice a year? Most cities clean their streets twice a month. It shows.

8. If you want people using the riverfront park, unpave the parking lots and turn in into an actual park. Unfence the river. Get rid of that unsightly earth mound. And please, if a market for a new hotel exists, renovate one of the vacant downtown buildings instead of plopping it in the park.

Alton has some tremendous advantages: Superb architecture, brick streets, breathtaking views, a quaint atmosphere, a legacy of urban infrastructure (even of most of the urban/walkable business have left the main city), relative racial integration, a farmer's market, a healthy grocer nearing completion, etc. We can attract new residents. If city government listens, we will.

John more than 1 year ago