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Creve Coeur-Olivette Chamber Of Commerce Losing Olivette?

Council members in Olivette have voted to end the city's membership in the organization.

The Creve Coeur-Olivette Chamber of Commerce may not be hyphenated much longer.

Tuesday, a disillusioned Olivette's City Council voted 3-2 to end the city's membership in the organization.

Former Olivette Mayor and Council member Jean Antoine led an uphill charge to end the relationship. The matter came before the city council because dues were due Feb. 1.

Normally, the council does not vote on issues during the managers’ workshop.

“I just don’t see what value we are getting for our money,” said Antoine. Missy Waldman, former mayor, who also sits on the council, took the opposite position.

“We don’t have anything special going on for our businesses. We could be cutting off our noses to spite our faces,” said Waldman.

Olivette would appear to feel like the proverbial stephild in the relationship, with a board dominated by representatives from Creve Coeur businesses and a lack of events held in Olivette.

The mayor weighs in

Olivette Mayor Arthur Merdinian, who is stepping down from the council in April, agreed with the majority of members.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence in the leadership of the chamber, and I’m really not content with our relationship with them at this time,” said Merdinian.

The council voted 3-2 to drop membership in the Creve Coeur-Olivette Chamber. Leif Hauser and Waldman voted to stay; members Antoine, Pablo Flinn and the mayor voted to leave.

Wednesday, Chamber Executive Director Nancy Gray said she wanted to consult with her Board of Directors before issuing any statement. Several board members and Chamber officers deferred to Gray when contacted individually. Gray was also trying to get in touch with Olivette City Manager Mike McDowell. McDowell, a former City Administrator in Creve Coeur, leaves at the end of next month for a similar post in Wentzville.

"Truthfully, I hope we dialogue with them sometime soon," Waldman said Wednesday. "This is not a new issue. There were some signs of improvements with the relationship. The chamber sponsored the annual 'Chili Cookoff' at Olivette’s outdoor festival Olivette on the Go for two years.

“Sometimes, you just have to take baby steps in order to get things done,” said Waldman.

The organization will hold its annual dinner auction next month at Orlando's Dorsett in Maryland Heights, featuring awards for the cities' firefighter and police officers of the year.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the event would be held at the Jewish Community Center.

flyoverland January 24, 2013 at 03:22 PM
I know exactly how they feel. Five of Seven members of the school board are from Olivette.
Robin Tidwell January 24, 2013 at 06:04 PM
At the risk of being crucified, we dropped our Chamber membership. Seems like the Chamber isn't there to promote business, but to promote the Chamber.
Scott Simon January 25, 2013 at 12:55 AM
This is an organization that chooses NOT to hold it's monthly meetings in Creve Coeur OR Olivette. Instead, it spends its resources on monthly meetings in Maryland Heights and Town and Country. That's the highest insult you can make to Creve Coeur and Olivette businesses, whether they are members or not. They didn't even hold it's Corporate Challenge Golf Tournament at the Creve Coeur Golf Course. Held it in Chesterfield. Amazing! Want to see something amazing? Do a Google search for Creve Coeur-Olivette Chamber of Commerce. You'll get the title, The Creve Coeur Chamber Website. What Olivette did doesn't surprise me. Well, maybe it does a little. A decision with a message. I like business chambers, have been a member of several and VP of one. But after my dealings with them last year, I vowed never to join unless major changes were made in the leadership and staff. They demonstrate nearly zero common sense.

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