Kareem Johnson | Digital Journalist

Clayton Board of Aldermen Approves Signs Ordinance, Pays Tribute to Alex Berger

Reported by Kareem Johnson

Mayor Linda Goldenstein identified the theme for Tuesday night’s sessions of the Clayton Board of Aldermen in two words: public service.

Over the course of three consecutive sessions, aldermen presented the Crème de la Clayton awards to outstanding members of the community, paid tribute to outgoing alderman Alex Berger and swore in new alderman Mark Winings.

The following is a look at the board’s discussion on a variety of topics.

Economic development

During a study session, city economic developer Gary Carter outlined Clayton’s economic picture. He said sales-tax revenue has improved in the initial months of this year, reversing an overall downward trend since 2008.

Carter outlined the strategies that his office is employing, including business attraction and retention, redevelopment and social media. He played the board a YouTube video produced by his office to advertise space available in the Centene building. So far, the office has produced six such videos, and links to them are available on the city’s website, its Facebook page and the Twitter feed @ClaytonBusiness.

Carter noted that participation during this year’s Clayton Restaurant Week rose to 19, up from 17 in 2010.

Aldermen expressed excitement about the use of social media in marketing Clayton. Ward 3 Alderman Steve Lichtenfeld said he is pleased with what he described as forward-looking statements in Carter’s presentation.

Public Hearing on Amendments to Signs Law

As part of Tuesday’s meeting, aldermen solicited input on a proposed ordinance defining what constitutes a sidewalk sign.

Susan Istenes, Clayton’s director of planning and development, gave a 10-minute presentation outlining the types of signs that are used on sidewalks throughout downtown and answered questions from the aldermen about the measure.

Ward 3 Alderman Alex Berger expressed concern that the ordinance would not be given a trial period as has happened in the past with things such as outdoor dining.  He wanted to know why staff didn’t recommend a trial period of, for example, May 1 to Oct. 1.

“Some of the pictures are really frightening,” Berger said. “Men and women who are pushing strollers will be in our streets.” He said he worries that the legislation would deter from the type of inviting streetscape Clayton is trying cultivate.

Lichtenfeld said there is a lot of inconsistency right now.

“This was a good start to attempt to control the signage, to give some new options,” he said. “We may need some tweaking.”

Aldermen also asked about the degree to which the business community was engaged in the process. Istenes said that representatives from 25 businesses came to the original meeting and that representatives from five businesses showed up for a follow-up meeting.

She also noted that the signs are considered temporary and that permits need to be obtained annually. Repeat violators of the ordinance will not be allowed to obtain permits.

After discussion, the alderman unanimously approved the bill.

In other business, the board reviewed a resolution to approve a contract with Trak Engineering for a fuel-station engineering project. Trak Engineering was selected through a low-bid process. The project will cost approximately $75,500, with a $12,000 authorization to approve change orders, as requested by the city’s public works department. The resolution passed unanimously.

The aldermen also approved a liquor license for Half & Half, a restaurant that will be located at 8135 Maryland Ave.

The board also certified the results of the April 5 municipal election in which Ward 1 Alderman Andrea Maddox-Dallas and Ward 2 Alderman Cynthia Garnholz were elected to second terms and and Mark Winings was elected as a new Ward 3 representative.

They were then sworn in.

Also on Tuesday, outgoing Alderman Alex Berger made closing comments about his nine years of service on the board and his life in Clayton. He talked about his years growing up, saying he talked about Clayton to others while at Drake University.  He said that he even convinced his wife to move by calling it the “Riviera of the Mississippi.”

Fellow aldermen made comments of appreciation for Berger before he performed his final action as an alderman by adjourning the meeting.

After being sworn in, Mark Winings told Clayton-Richmond Heights Patch that he is happy to be a part of the board.

“I look forward to working with the board and serving this community,” Winings said.

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