Weeks before the tragic events of Charlottesville, the City of St. Louis was embroiled in a controversy over the removal of the Confederate memorial located in Forest Park. Though talk of relocating the memorial began in 2015, Mayor Lyda Krewson, who assumed office in April of this year, revived the discussion, strongly advocating its removal. Arguments were raised on both sides of the issue. There were some demonstrations — largely nonviolent, thankfully. And the memorial, which was dedicated in 1914, was ultimately removed in June.
I wanna feel sunlight on my face.
I see the dust-cloud
Disappear without a trace.
But the street which formerly led to it remained in place. Until Monday. While most area residents focused their attention on the solar eclipse, Confederate Drive was being torn up by the City Streets Department.
The city streets department says it’s spending nearly $12,000 to add plants, flowers, and grass. Barring any weather problems, work should be completed by next week.
Some city leaders claim a master plan dating back to 1995 always included removing Confederate Drive in favor of green space. Since the road never served any other purposed or use, it city leaders said it makes sense to tear it up and turn it into a garden.
Fair enough. The street may well have served no other purpose – it certainly was never integral to my jogs or bike rides through the park. And I like green space as much as the next person. (As an aside, Forest Park really is a jewel, and I’m glad it’s part of the St. Louis landscape.)
And there may well have been such a plan in the works, though one wonders why it took 22 years to be implemented. (Come to think of it, we’re talking about city government here. Maybe one needn’t wonder all that much.)
Still, the timing is quite interesting, particularly given that a bill to rename the street “Scott Joplin Drive” is currently under consideration by the Board of Alderman. Guess that measure can be tabled now, and the City can move on to other pressing issues.
To be clear, I don’t have an issue with the Confederate memorial being removed from Forest Park and placed in a museum. Nor do I take issue with the removal of Confederate Drive, coincidental timing notwithstanding. Like many, though, I do wonder where we ultimately draw the line? And whether the recent push to tear down and rename will help heal old wounds or inflict new ones?
We’re still building and burning down love.