Friday, October 25, 2013

Francis R. Slay Park

Francis R. Slay Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks and the only one in the Ellendale neighborhood.

The park was placed into ordinance in 1926 and takes its name from former Democratic politician, restauranteur and father of the current mayor Francis G. Slay.  The park used to be called Ellendale park up until 2009 when the name was changed to honor Slay.
graffiti under the Arsenal bridge

The elder Slay had been an alderman, a state legislator and the city's recorder of deeds. His longest political role was as the committeeman for the city's 23rd Ward, a post he held for 45 years.
But like most politicians of his day, Francis R. Slay had another "real job." He was a restauranteur, operating Slay's restaurant for many years with a brother (the current mayor had been a waiter and maitre'd in his youth), and later overseeing The Cedars in the St. Raymond's complex.  (Source)

File photo by Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Located between the River Des Peres to the east, McCausland Avenue to the west, Arsenal Street to the north and Caterbury Avenue to the south, the park makes up 9 of the total 3,250 acres of park space per the city website.


I've attended many a soccer game at the park as it is used for the CYC leagues.  The northern part of the park nearest Arsenal is simply mowed grass/weeds and a few trees here and there, some recently planted.  Accessibility from the surrounding neighborhoods is pretty rough, as you have to cross 6 traffic lanes and a median if you are walking from the larger Ellendale neighborhood to the west.  The park is accessible from the north on the chat easement of the River Des Pares drainage ditches.  There are homeless people who've set up shop here under the Arsenal bridge as signs of bon fires and meals and graffiti are everywhere.
The park fencing along the River Des Peres easement side is trashed and missing in many sections.  Why not just tear it down?  Or, replace it.  It looks pretty shoddy.
The main elements other than the soccer fields and 2 softball fields are a relatively new 2-lane walking path, a tennis court and playground that are both in excellent condition.
The non-descript restrooms and water fountain are operational and were open upon my visit (a rare occurrence).
I've been to this park so many times and knew I could get my pictures in ~10 minutes because there's really not much here that is cool.  But of course, one of the most fun things about doing these posts is meeting and talking to the good people of St. Louis. When I pulled up, there was a guy and his family changing a fuel filter on his car in the parking lot. His girls were carving pumpkins on a blanket under a shade tree.
We talked for maybe 20 minutes about the many cities he's lived in and visited and how St. Louis is his favorite.  Gritty, tough and cool, yet welcoming and hard to leave....I agree.

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