Trees coming down in Ohlendorf West Park, new emergency call center going in -

Trees coming down in Ohlendorf West Park, new emergency call center going in

From his daughter's bedroom window on the second floor of his home, Neil Thole can look out and see a thinning line of trees that surrounds Ohlendorf West Park in St. Louis County.

"When we bought the house, it was a park and we thought it would always be that way," said Thole.

"They take those trees out, she's just going to grow up looking right at a building."

Crews began cutting down the trees last week. More are expected to come down to make way for the construction of a $16.2 million 911 emergency call center. Neighbors say they understand the project is underway, but want an assurance from the county that the tree line that borders the call center site and their homes will remain in tact and serve as a buffer.

"A lot of the trees are already gone, there's nothing that can be done about that, at this point. But, there are these trees still remaining and I'd like for them to be taken a close look at to see if we can preserve as many as possible," said Debbie Schneider, who lives near the park.

"It's just disappointing and the property values may go down too," said neighbor Muriel Morgan.

The county picked the site two years ago, but four neighbors tells News 4 they weren't aware of plans to tear down trees along Hanna Road until workers showed up last week.

St. Louis County selected the site at Ohlendorf West Park for several reasons, said David Wrone, of the St. Louis County Highways & Traffic and Public Works division. Wrone says the land is at the right elevation, it's centrally located, and would save taxpayers money by building on land the county already owns.



We're leaving as many trees as we possibly can and are committing to planting additional trees," said Wrone.

In 2009, voters approved a 1/10 of a cent sales tax hike to improve emergency communications in the county. Projects include new tornado sirens, radios, and the call center.

The call center on Hanna Road will be fully functioning by next fall. The facility will be partially occupied by late winter, early spring of 2013. The one story, 30,000 square foot building, will house 32 employees. A 200 foot tall communications tower will be erected. The tower will consist of one pole with two microwave dishes and three or possibly four antennae, according to the county.



Wrone showed News 4 plans that mapped out the trees in the park, saying that crews would leave as many trees up along Crescent and Hanna Roads. New trees will be planted in a parking lot for the call center.

"There won't be as many trees there as there were, but this is a community facility. This is going to benefit the entire region," said Wrone.

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