July 21, 2021
To Our Downtown Community,
Many people call Downtown St. Louis home. The Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District’s (CID) mission is to properly maintain our 180-square blocks and oversee the numerous urban space challenges that align with our designated services. While tending to these items, it is important to appropriately address the diverse community who benefits from our services: tourists, residents, employees, and locals. The CID’s goal is to redistribute resources back into the community through a collection of programs that can make a valuable and visible impact. Today, I would like to share a few key initiatives that the CID and our partner organizations are refreshing this summer.
I am happy to share that the Downtown Ambassador program is officially up and running! The Downtown Ambassador program was a long-time CID initiative which was reinstated this year based on a recommendation from the Design Downtown STL plan. While the Ambassadors’ primary responsibility is to provide direction or information to pedestrians, they also address numerous urban items such as reporting graffiti, out of commission traffic lights, broken sidewalks and other areas of concern. The Ambassadors were instrumental in recent weekends with reporting storm damage to the appropriate city department and maintaining unsafe areas.
Matt Karnowski, Ambassador Program Leader, says that his team is already seeing a positive response of reinstating the program. “A lot of folks are excited,” he said. “My team is consistently reporting that people are excited to see the program active again and see it as a great resource. It’s a really valuable program.” The program currently has 7 Ambassadors who are in the field Friday through Sunday, from 11 am – 7 pm. As we move past the beginning stages of reinstating the program, we will appropriately scale our hours and weekday activity. The Ambassadors can be found traveling throughout the CID on foot or riding bright yellow bikes.
The CID Board has also taken recent steps to improve our security operations by hiring former Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson to conduct an in-depth analysis of Downtown’s security operations and recommend collaborative, new measures. Captain Johnson’s diverse skill set, partnerships with local and regional leaders, and his established relationships within the St. Louis community will be of value to the CID going forward. Captain Johnson’s initial review will offer guidance on the CID’s security program strengths and note areas for improvement. Upon conclusion of his 60-day assessment, Captain Johnson will present an actionable plan to the CID Board for consideration. We will share more information as this partnership progresses.
Another avenue in which the CID is improving the Downtown environment for its patrons is through the continued implementation of the Real Change program. This program provides long-term, viable solutions to those who are panhandling throughout the District. For example, instead of giving an individual money you can share one of our resource cards which details where they can find food, shelter, employment, and counseling. Additionally, you can notify the appropriate organization of the individual in need of assistance. If you would like to receive our Real Change resource cards, please contact our office at (314) 499-1111.
Similarly, an organization centered around uplifting the community, St. Patrick Center, is concentrating on improving the lives of unhoused individuals through their Mobile Outreach Team. This team conducts daily outreach to check-in on unhoused patrons and assess their situation. By providing a direct connection from an outreach worker, unhoused patrons can quickly gain access to services they may need. The Mobile Outreach Team also runs a 24/7 hotline ((314) 561-0278) which can assist in finding shelter and offer referrals to those in need. By taking a collaborative approach and working with similar outreach teams in the city, the team is able to deliver a high-quality level of support to these members of the community.
The core aspect of the CID is its community – without it, our Downtown would decline. I believe that when we support each other we can make significant change, even if it stems from what seems like a small gesture. The CID welcomes feedback on our programs and encourages community members to share their ideas for improving the District. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (314) 335-2307 to discuss your ideas. I look forward to seeing you Downtown, soon.
Kelli J. McCrary