It never seems to do much good to call ahead in Kinloch. City Hall in the small north St. Louis County community closes at 2:30 pm, and Mayor Keith Conway has never answered his phone or returned one of my phone calls.
So, when we want to know what the Mayor thinks about something we climb in a vehicle and drive about twenty minutes to Kinloch, hoping to catch the Mayor as he walks in or out of a building. Today, we approached him as he walked out of his house. The Mayor didn't want to talk much about a new business in town; a bar operating out of a city-owned building that was donated seven years ago by the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The building was a place of worship. Now, it's known as Cotton Club 2.
Mayor Conway quickly turned away from us, got in his car and drove away. We followed him to a parking lot across from Cotton Club 2. On its website, the Archdiocese explains that "the property was donated to the City of Kinloch for a museum and learning center." There is a learning center on property near the building and the Mayor insists a museum will be built there. However, it's pretty clear that the Archdiocese never wanted a nightclub in one of the buildings. An Archdiocese spokeswoman declined comment for this story.
The Mayor seemed so rattled that he even refused to admit it's a bar. "It's a business," he told me repeatedly. According to minutes from a city meeting seven months ago, one Alderman opposed putting Cotton Club 2 in the building "due to the promise made to the Archdiocese when the property was turned over to the city." It's unclear if the Archdiocese imposed restrictions on the use of the property, like a prohibition on any business serving alchohol. Based on our request for a comment, the Archdiocese is reviewing records to see if Kinloch is violating any written agreement.
I asked the Mayor if Kinloch was violating an agreement with the Archdiocese, but he drove away without saying a word.