The Ste. Genevieve County Commission received an update on the Pickle Springs Natural Area parking problems in a phone call with an official of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
Aaron Jeffries, deputy director of outreach and policy for MDC, filled the commission in on what the MDC is planning for Pickle Springs.
“We are working on a solution, it’s just stacking up against all the other projects that we have around the state,” he said. “We are looking at doing a parking lot expansion.
“I do want you guys to know that we are working on a project to expand that parking lot, so, that’s got to work its way through the construction schedule right now, we are already working on that.”
Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said that he understands both side of the situation, but explained that the property owners elects the commissioners to manage the roads, and he doesn’t want ignore their thoughts and what they want.
“That’s a magnificent place out there, we want people to come to our community and visit these conservation areas, it’s good for the state, it’s good for the county, good for everybody,” he said. “There’s always a happy medium, but, some of the people get ignorant, the way they park, blocking residential driveways, eating lunch and throwing the garbage out.
“We talked about widening the road and angled parking, the road foreman and I went out and looked, and it would be hard to do because the property is about two foot higher than what the road is and cutting it and getting it reditched [would be difficult].”
Jeffries noted that he is unsure what sort of design the MDC was looking at and explained that there are certain rules that the county and state has to follow that a landowner doesn’t have to follow, and that might be part of the issue.
“Part of that area is a natural area and is subject to maintaining that very high quality where you can’t destroy it or alter it or change it, so that’s likely influencing the design of that future parking lot,” he said.
Nelson said that he and the road foreman was out there on a Tuesday morning and there were 12-15 people at 9 a.m.
Nelson stressed to Jeffries that if the county can use their trucks to help with the construction to expedite the process, something they have done for another project, they would be glad to do it.
Jeffries also said that it wasn’t the case that the MDC has a policy of requiring two parking lots be closed before expanding or creating a new one.
“That’s not at all the case,” he said. “Just like the county, the amount of infrastructure we have to take care of, you want to make sure that you are working on the priorities, not putting unnecessary infrastructure where it is not needed.”
District 1 Commissioner Randy Bahr asked again, “So there’s nothing to that about shutting two [parking lots] down before you build one?”
Jefferies said, “No, absolutely not. We do need to reduce some of our infrastructure, and we have challenged staff that before we put in new stuff, let’s see where we can reduce stuff.”
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at email@example.com