Tara Nealey is one of two Creve Coeur City Counci members running unopposed in April. We asked her about the biggest issue facing Ward Two, her thoughts on development of a "downtown" Creve Coeur, how the city should handle the Olive Blvd. Transportation Development District and her priorities if re-elected.
The Biggest Issue Facing Ward Two
Nealey told Patch the biggest issue facing Ward Two is the control of development along Olive Blvd:
"People have differing views about control of traffic and how much development is enough and what kind of development is the right development," she said. "When people drive through Creve Coeur, that’s where they tend to be driving through and we want that to be a really nice area. We want it to be a destination area but we also the people who live here don’t want it to be so congested and so difficult to navigate and difficult that it make it difficult to live and get your errands done and go to the grocery store, so I think managing that development is really the biggest issue."
Vision of Downtown
"I like to think of a downtown area that has a mixed use kind of a feel. Destination spots, restaurants, shops, other uses, a neighborhood feel." While she admits to not processing through some of the implications regarding downtown development, she said she favors a more pedestrian-friendly environment, where people could park and then walk to nearby destinations, or be able to walk from their homes.
Olive Blvd. TDD
Nealey said the project, which has been delayed and burdened by cost overruns, needs to be wrapped up, citing among other things, "resident fatigue" with it.
“It’s difficult to make the case that it has been a well managed project,” she said. Nealey said there were too many moving parts that weren't pinned down which snowballed to where the project stands today. She said the TDD should decide which minimal improvements can get done and then close up and move on.
While city council critics and at least one candidate have voiced opposition to any future TDDs, Nealey says the city's experience with the Olive Blvd. would shape her thinking on future proposals. “TDDs are best suited for much more compact focused projects like the Graeser project,” she said, talking about the nearly completed project at Olive Blvd. and Graeser, connected to the new Walgreens set to open later this spring. Future projects would need fewer moving parts, fewer divergent interests, be done for the right reasons and have a shared benefit, she said.
Nealey said she would like to revisit the city's Planned Community Zoning regulations. She would also like to address stormwater management, which she says is a problem especially for residents near teardown/rebuild projects.
"Half or more of all the calls I ever get have to do with a tear down rebuild project next door or behind," she said she's heard of residents who have lived in a home for decades without a problem, and then are faced with thousands of dollars in costs to deal with issues posed by stormwater runoffs from tear-down and rebuilds. Nealey said she favors an ordinance which would put the cost of stormwater management changes on the party tearing down a property and rebuilding, and not the property's neighbors.
Election day is Tuesday April 5.