Monday, July 1, 2013

Bellerive Park

Bellerive Park is 1 of 108 parks in St. Louis making up 8.67 acres of the total 2,956 acres of park land.  The park overlooks the Mississippi River right at the intersection of South Broadway and Bellerive Boulevard in the Carondelet Neighborhood.


Located on the far south side of St. Louis, this park has been around since 1908 and is right by the beautiful Bellerive bridge that crossed Broadway.  My favorite approach to Bellerive Park is from Pennsylvania Avenue looking east toward the river.


From the St. Louis City website:
Originally known as Riverside Park, it was later renamed Bellerive Park in honor of the early French governor of Saint Louis. It was purchased as a terminus for Bellerive Boulevard and to provide a scenic viewpoint for a fine riverscape vista. (source)

There is a crescent drive that is accessible from Broadway, leads up to the grand pavilion and then to the bridge crossing over Broadway.

Fourth Generation Ford Thunderbird (1964-1966) parked in the crescent drive


The pavilion sits atop the bluff and overlooks the river.




There are plenty of benches to sit and watch the coal and grain barges find their way down the river.



Now I'd be lying if I didn't say this place is a popular meeting place for all male trysts.  It's a weird thing that has taken place here for a longtime and most locals know it and stay away for that reason.

That's not to say you won't see decent people there too.  Usually at the playground with kids.



Carondelet, not unlike the Hill takes incredible pride in its history, maybe like no other St. Louis neighborhood.  There are 2 signs commemorating the fact that you are in the former city of Carondelet.



Some recent grading and run off remediation has been done in the park, including new curbs, rain swales and new trees planted along the higher ground to anchor the soil where erosion used to occur.


Now, if I had my druthers, I would leave the section of the park pictured above (the southern part) as-is, meaning mowed around the playgrounds, pavilion and Carondelet sign.  I would also keep the areas in front (east) of the benches mowed as not to obscure the views of the river.

The pavilion could be landscaped with low rise natives such as purple coneflower, black-eyed susan, sweet spire or other like plantings to define the space around the park's centerpiece.

Now, on the northern and western parts of the park I would do something that is foreign to the parks department...a natural xeriscape.  Forest Park has such areas and they are incredible.
Xeriscaping and xerogardening refer to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation. It is promoted in regions that do not have easily accessible, plentiful, or reliable supplies of fresh water, and is gaining acceptance in other areas as climate patterns shift. Although xeriscaping may be an alternative to various types of traditional gardening, it is usually promoted as a substitute for Kentucky bluegrass lawns. (source)
This park COULD be a fantastic natural setting, we just need less grass/weed lawns, and more xeriscaped beauty.  Not that we are at a loss for water in the region, we are just lax in recognizing the natural beauty of the Missouri and Illinois prairie and bluff landscapes along the rivers.  A controlled burn, native grass and wildflower re-seeded and boom, you've got native prairie grasses from the sidewalk along Broadway climbing up the hill toward the pavilion.  It would be less resources needed for the park's dept to mow and weedwack, too.  And in light of the recent embezzlement by Park's Dept employees of ~$0.5M, we deserve the changes in operations...an overhaul or reset of expectations if you will.

Think this kind of scene leading up to the look out points:



Bellerive Park has a beautiful bridge, a beautiful pavilion, unmatched views of the Mississippi River and the Illinois banks.  Now it needs to be complemented with natural landscape and some simple enforcement/signage to get rid of the creepy older dudes hanging out in their cars year after year after year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like to walk my dog to this park and see the river, but there always seem to be vehicles occupied by single men parked along the edge. They'll sometimes sit for more than an hour, and I have never once seen any of them leave their car or interact with each other in any way. It is bizarre...what are they doing?