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St. Louis Boundary Commission approves vote on merger of Vinita Park, Terrace

Vinita Terrace trustee Mary Tevlin speaks in favor of a proposed merger with Vinita Park at a public hearing on May 24, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated June 29 with ballot approval - The St. Louis County Boundary Commission had approved a proposed merger between Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace. The issue now goes on the ballot in both towns. No one who spoke at a public hearing in May opposed the idea.

Vinita Park already provides a number of services, including policing, for its smaller neighbor.

Original story, May 24 - If a public hearing Tuesday night was any indication, a proposed merger between Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace would have no trouble being approved.

Everyone who spoke to the St. Louis Boundary Commission, which handles consolidations, thought the merger was a good idea. When asked, no one in the crowd at Washington Elementary School raised a hand in opposition.

"I encourage you to consider us consolidating with Vinita Park," said Mary Tevlin, who has been a trustee in Vinita Terrace for more than 20 years. "As much as I would not like to have to do that, as a board member I do feel that it is best for my community. Our community will benefit from Vinita Terrace, or Vinita Park, rather, with all the facilities and the larger numbers there."

Vinita Park, population 1,880, already provides a number of services to its smaller neighbor, population 277. This includes policing and snow removal. And John Phillips, who grew up in Vinita Park and now lives in Vinita Terrace, said the area has always felt like one big neighborhood anyway.

"Even the street that I live on now, Monroe, I can still remember at least three different friends who lived on the same street," Phillips said. "So we constantly crossed Midland to interact and socialize. And all of us went to this school."

The consolidation would mean a tax increase for Vinita Terrace residents, but Phillips shrugged that off. 

"It's a few extra taxes for a few extra services," he said.

The merger has support from outside entities as well. Gail Choate, the interim director of planning for St. Louis County, said the county is "certainly in favor of more efficient units of government, which is what's being proposed tonight." She said in concept, the consolidation is a very good thing.

"I applaud and commend Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace for making this move," said Mary Carter, the mayor of neighboring Pagedale. "I know it's difficult but it will be the best and it will improve the quality of life for the residents in this area. And hopefully, there will be more of these in the future."

Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace are in northern St. Louis County, separated only by Page Avenue and Midland Boulevard.

The Boundary Commission will take written comments on the proposed consolidation until June 14. After that, it has nine months to act. Both Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace have asked the members for expedited consideration so residents can vote on the consolidation at the November election. Regardless of when the vote occurs, it requires a 50 percent plus one majority in each city to take effect.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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