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Committee okays BJC/Forest Park deal

Hudlin Park.
Hudlin Park.

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – A proposal to lease more than nine acres of Forest Park east of Kingshighway to Barnes Jewish Hospital moved forward Wednesday.

After nearly three hours of public testimony and presentations from those for and against, the Board of Aldermen's Parks Committee approved the bill.

Opponents, like Carla Scissors-Cohen who heads up Citizens to Protect Forest Park, argued that the 90-year lease is really a sale and could lead the way to parceling off parkland.

In the end Scissors-Cohen says the 8-3 vote was not a surprise.

"But it was great to have an opportunity to share with the elected officials and the citizens who were here that our park is not for sale and that it's not a done deal, and that we're certainly not stopping our fight," she said.

Alderwoman Lyda Krewson co-sponsored the ordinance that lays out how BJC would pay two-million dollars a year for Forest Park maintenance in exchange for leasing the land.

Krewson says it's been one of the toughest issues to come before aldermen.

"You know it's always tough to give up park land. If you're a responsible elected official you're going to think long and hard about this," Krewson said. "But this bill provides a guaranteed stream of revenue for funding Forest Park for 90 years into the future."

The measure goes to the full board Friday.