$37 million dedicated to North St. Louis delayed by impacts of aldermen indictments, remedies in the works

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 9:14 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Nine months after St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed a bill that sends $37 million to North St. Louis, the money remains largely unspent.

The money is slated to help 11 commercial corridors north of Delmar along with surrounding neighborhoods. It’s also intended to benefit small businesses, create jobs and improve streets.

But with much of the money yet to be spent, some North St. Louis residents are growing increasingly frustrated.

“What’s going on? Where is the money?” said Shawsy Cody, a lifelong North St. Louis resident. “Who is getting it because we’re not getting any.”

Shawsy said after living on the north side of the city for decades, she is tired of seeing her neighborhood deteriorate.

“It’s a mental stress because you know what the neighborhood looked like before and now, look at the neighborhood now,” she said. “Where am I supposed to go? I’m on a fixed income and can’t afford to move.”

She questions where the money promised to the residents is and said she is tired of waiting for it.

“Here we think the mayor promised to bring this money to North St. Louis and we haven’t seen anything,” she said. “These small businesses, they are not going to be able to stay afloat because the people in the neighborhood can’t support them, because they don’t have anything to support them with.”

News 4 reached out to the mayor’s office to find out what is causing the delay. A spokesperson for the mayor said the language within the legislation is making the implementation of the grant program difficult. Mainly, because the approval of a project requires a letter of support from the Alderman who oversees that particular ward.

The language reads in part, “Any project in the wards, including grants, shall be approved by the Alderman of the word in which the project is proposed. This approval shall be requested by SLDC, and approval shall be provided by the Alderman of the word via letter on the Alderman’s letterhead. If the Alderman of the ward does not send a letter of support on their letterhead, then the project shall not be funded or approved by SLDC.”

However, the indictment of Aldermen Jeffrey Boyd and John Collins-Muhammad, both of whom previously represented parts of North St. Louis, slowed the process down. When they both stepped down, there was no Alderman to approve perspective projects.

Boyd and John Collins-Muhammad are both facing prison time for their roles in a bribery and pay-to-play case. Former Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed is also facing prison time.

Without a letter of approval, no projects can be approved, leading to the delay in the implementation of the grant money.

The St. Louis Development Corporation released the following update to News 4:

“SLDC has increased capacity, improved operational efficiencies and built the necessary infrastructure to solidify and accelerate the process of getting ARPA-funded program dollars into the hands of residents and business owners.

To-date, SLDC has received 110 applications from organizations seeking to access the $37 million allocated to the Commercial Corridors Grant Program. Upon initial review of those applications, we saw the need to offer training and technical support to ensure all businesses/applicants have the same opportunity to access capital. SLDC is working diligently to have those resources ready to implement as the Board debates legislation.”

As a result, Board Bill 64, currently in committee, aims to reform the language within Board Bill 82, namely removing the aldermanic letter of support language. In addition, it would expand the geographic area to be included within the commercial corridors. Currently, along Delmar Boulevard in the 26th ward, one side of the street is eligible and the other side is not.

The mayor’s office also hopes by removing the need for an aldermanic letter of support, ethical concerns within the process will be minimized and a major barrier will be removed, allowing more stakeholders to apply for the grant money.