Ameren Missouri property adjacent to the arts district

This is the Ameren Missouri site on Orr Street in October 2013. The city has the right of first refusal with the property, and the North Village Arts District hopes to turn the property into a communal space.

COLUMBIA — Scott Wilson envisions an open, communal park space, perfect for festivals, yoga and tai chi classes, Shakespeare in the Park or just hanging out with friends.

Those are some of the ideas Wilson and others on the North Village Arts District board of directors have been discussing for years about what to do with the Ameren Missouri site adjacent to the arts district on Orr Street.

"The sky's the limit with this space," Wilson said. "It's the North Village Arts District. People are going to get creative."

The city has a right of first refusal on the site, where an old plant left behind coal tar contaminants in the soil. That means the city will be notified first when Ameren Missouri is ready to sell.

The site has not yet been cleared for sale pending a review of Ameren's efforts to clean the site of contaminants.

Steph Deidrick, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said Ameren Missouri has submitted a final report that was under review.

Ameren Missouri in 2006 enrolled the site into the Brownfields/Voluntary Cleanup Program, which helps clean up properties contaminated with hazardous waste.

"The remediation removed an estimated 90 to 99 percent of the total amount of contamination from the site," Deidrick said.

With the cleanup process in its final stage, Deidrick said her agency anticipates clearing the property in 2017.

City Manager Mike Matthes said that after Ameren is able to get the site approved for sale, it will have the land appraised and negotiate with the city.

After the city obtains the property, Matthes plans to hear the community's ideas for the space.

"What we're going to do is go through a public process, so that the whole community can decide how it wants to use that space," Matthes said.

There are still existing buildings on the property, and Wilson would like to see the structures go to make way for a more open area. 

Wilson also wants to open discussion to the community, so the North Village Arts District can hear other ideas.

"What we do best in the North Village Arts District is introduce people to one another and foster friendships and exchange of ideas," Wilson said. "You never know what's going to happen when people are brought together in a communal space."

Matthes said he's spoken with a few members of the art district board and acknowledged their ideas.

"There are folks who are really wanting to focus on the cultural side of it, with ideas like a sculpture park, an amphitheater and indoor theater, that sort of thing," Matthes said. "So that's why we're going to go through a master planning process, so we can involve the public in it."

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

  • I'm a junior studying journalism and business, and a reporter on the Enterprise beat for Fall 2016. I can be reached at sepzr6@mail.missouri.edu

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