By ERIC X. VICCARO
Ste. Genevieve Herald
This past week, seemingly everyone’s focus was on the possible creation of an RV park on North Main Street.
Passionate pleas were heard from both sides – the downtown residents who felt an RV park in downtown wasn’t a great idea – and the businessmen who wanted to provide another way for out-of-towners to enjoy Ste. Genevieve.
However, in the end, city attorney Mark Bishop took emotion out of the equation – requesting the Ste. Genevieve board of aldermen deny a special use permit from James Ferguson and Audubon Redevelopment, LLC, for the proposed RV park.
And that’s exactly what happened this past Thursday night.
The board of aldermen unanimously denied the permit, primarily because the RV park would be situated in two different zoned districts.
One of the zones is called C-1, or general commercial, and the other is I-1, or what’s termed light industrial.
This means Audubon Redevelopment, LLC, needs to start the process over from scratch, should the group decide to continue pursuing this project.
“From the beginning, our primary objective was to help bring more visitors to our great town,” Herb Fallert said during Thursday’s meeting.
The proposed RV park had both ardent supporters as well as detractors.
One petition of support for the park contained about 30 signatures from the Downtown Ste. Genevieve group. Another petition against the park generated 57 signatures.
“RV travel is growing,” continued Herb Fallert, formerly a state representative and deputy director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. “We had space to develop for a small amount of RVs, a few guests.”
Herb Fallert urged the board of aldermen to table the matter, but the leadership group went in a different direction with Bishop’s advisement.
Jim Ferguson spoke, and said it’s “not a dead issue. We will regroup and move forward. It will be a nice project. People are changing the way they move around the country.”
Ste. Genevieve resident John Stuppy spoke, thinking there was already an RV park in the city – but that’s simply not the case.
Yes, there are mobile home grounds here. But, the closest RV park is located at Hawn State Park Campground in New Offenburg.
Stuppy also was concerned with how large, bulky RVs would traverse these narrow, downtown streets. Bo Caldwell, a Ste. Genevieve firefighter, also spoke out against the RV park for the same reason.
Ste. Genevieve resident Yvonne Lemire, who restored the Vital Ste. Gemme Beauvais House on South Main Street not far from the proposed RV park, spoke against the proposal mainly because of location concerns.
“It does not belong in historic downtown,” Lemire exclaimed.
Lemire said Pere Marquette Park or the Ste. Genevieve County Fairgrounds would be an ideal spot for an RV park – or perhaps near the county community center.
“It would be close enough to town to walk or the trolley could be used as a shuttle,” she said.
Plumber Guy Luttrell was against a proposed RV park primarily based on noise concerns.
On Wednesday evening, Herb and Mike Fallert, Jim Ferguson and Pat Ferguson had an open forum on the possible RV park.
Plans were tacked onto the gazebo located across the Audubon Grill and Bar, which called for 12 spaces for RV campers.
Audubon Redevelopment, LLC, members were under fire from neighbors while several aldermen and other city leaders listened to the presentation.
During the 45-minute forum, which took place in open air as all-terrain vehicles traveled by, Patrick Fahey with Main Street Bed and Breakfast said a possible RV park in downtown could potentially become a “Jellystone.”
NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Ste. Genevieve will soon become the site of a national historical park, and it’s estimated the community would draw 40,000 visitors here per year.
To that end, city leaders expedited a process allow Mayor Paul Hassler to enter into an agreement with the National Park Service to assist in the establishment of a park service here.
The Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center located at 66 South Main Street will be transferred to the National Park Service as part of the agreement.
Several buildings will be a part of the national park, including the Welcome Center, the Bauvais-Amoureux House, the Janis-Ziegler Home (AKA, Greentree Tavern) and Jean baptisteValle House.
The National Park Service currently is using the J.B. Valle House for office space.
Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch said it’s the intention of the agreement to allow the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center and the National Park Service to share the same building.
Since this is a federal project, it’s expected the entire process of getting the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park fully up and running will take more than two years to complete, Welch explained.