Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT) and AARP in St. Louis provided an opportunity for the community to (re)vision the area around the North Hanley MetroLink Station through a pop-up Metro Market on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The event temporarily transformed a portion of the expansive parking lot into an active space that connected people to products, services and green spaces; showcasing how areas around transit stations can become focal points for activity. This event was free, and community members of all ages were encouraged to attend.
Last year, CMT, AARP and community stakeholders completed walk audits of three key MetroLink stations, including the one at North Hanley. Short and long-term recommendations for improving the functionality of the stations were identified, as well as means for making them safer and more vibrant destinations. An action plan is currently being executed, and a series of improvements have been completed with others currently underway. The next step was to give stakeholders, riders and the general public a peek at what is possible by way of the pop-up Metro Market on Oct. 11. A main area of focus for organizers was getting community feedback.
“This event was designed to give community members a sneak peek at what the area around this MetroLink station could look like,” commented Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. “But, it didn’t stop there. We used it as a catalyst for obtaining community input through multiple communication channels including art, spoken word, writing and playing. We wanted to find out what matters to local residents, determine what they want to see come to life.”
The St. Louis County Department of Planning facilitated an activity that allowed residents to use Lego’s to help create an oversized, three dimensional model illustrating what they would like to see onsite. There was also a video-taped, Self-Expression Stop that enabled attendees to verbally share their vision, as well aschalk, an oversized banner and an AARP wrapped vehicle that people could use to draw or write down their thoughts. . For inspiration, several murals, created by Brock Seals, a local artist and student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, were featured.
The event was also highlighted by food trucks, Tai Chi mini-sessions, educational resources on how to build a healthy plate from the St. Louis County Department of Health, live music from WFUN 95.5 FM R&B Old School, a St. Louis County Police Department recruiting station, the opportunity to meet and interact with adoptable animal through the St. Louis County Animal Shelter, a cooking demonstration, free apples and information from the Central County Precinct Neighborhood Policing Unit.
Area residents were able to learn more about the new community library box being considered for this site. This free, onsite “library,” offered by the St. Louis Promise Zone in partnership with the St. Louis County Library’s Recycled Reads program, gives surplus library materials another life by circulating them throughout the community. No library card is required to borrow the materials, and there are no fines or due dates. Individuals are asked to return the items whenever they’re finished. A total of 10 Promise Zone Community Libraries are set to be installed this year as a means to increase literacy in North St. Louis County.
“We brought the concept of space activation to life so people of all ages could visualize the potential that exists to create safer, more livable communities around transit stations,” added Sheila Holm, community outreach director for AARP St. Louis. “We would like to extend a thank you to all those who shared their thoughts on the experience and the types of enhancements they would like to see.”
The pop-up Metro Market was made possible thanks to funding received through the AARP Community Challenge Grant program, which invested $780,000 in 89 different community projects nationwide to help create change and improve the quality of life for people of all ages. Other event partners include the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the St. Louis County Department of Planning, the St. Louis County Department of Health, the Missouri Department of Transportation, St. Louis County Police and Bi-State Development/Metro Transit.