For years the northeast corner at Tower Grove and Vandeventer was an unsightly entry point for the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. Thousands of people pass by the area on a daily basis with this perhaps their only glimpse of FPSE. Brooks Goedeker, WUMC’s Community Development Specialist, stated, “I thought that this piece of land had real potential to be an excellent entry point into the neighborhood.” First Goedeker and WUMC had to research who even owned the land. The property turned out to be owned by Union Pacific Railroad, whose railroad line runs underneath the property and crosses Vandeventer Avenue. Soon after, WUMC and Union Pacific reached a lease agreement to allow for a landscaping project to occur. “We had the lease agreement in place, so now all we needed was some design plans, plants, and landscaping material,” stated Goedeker.
Goedeker wrote a successful grant to the city’s Operation Brightside Program. The grant was for $1200 for plants and landscaping equipment. In order for this to be a quality project the area also called for design plans and further funding for additional planting materials. Goedeker and WUMC were unaware that so many other people had noticed the property and were eager to have something positive happen to it. Coming to the forefront was: 1) Landscape St. Louis, a high end landscaping company, whose operations recently located to the city and 2) Suburban Packaging, a distributor of wholesale packaging materials whose business and warehouse is located across from the area on Tower Grove. Landscape St. Louis performed all of the design plans free of charge and Suburban packaging contributed $1000 toward the purchase of additional plants and sod.
Also lending assistance and leadership to the project was the 17th Ward Youth Employment Program, the St. Louis Knox College Alumni Association, and Americorps members of St. Louis. The 17th Ward Youth Employment Program and the St. Louis Knox College Alumni Association provided the prep work for the area and about 50 Americorps volunteers performed the planting and laying of sod. “This was really a huge collaborative effort that took months to pull off. It was awesome to see so many groups come together to see this project come to fruition. Each of them need to be applauded for the time and effort that they dedicated to improving this area,” stated Goedeker. Thanks also to Alderman Joe Roddy and NSO Luke Reven for their support of this project.