Proposed land swap in Florissant; City gives up part of Koch Park, gets land near Missouri River for new park

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 10:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - City officials in Florissant are pursuing a deal that would swap out a portion of Koch Park for land near the Missouri River, and a developer would use former park land for a housing development.

Mayor Timothy Lowery said the city needs two-story homes for young families, but some residents don’t want to lose a portion of their beloved park.

“I’m not anti-development, but not in the park,” said resident Kathy Wilson.

Wilson and Mary Clines are on a crusade to try and stop or at least bring public awareness to the proposed land swap in Florissant.

“This is a park that Florissant residents have maintained as a park. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would have this fight,” said Wilson.

But city officials like Economic Development Director Patrick Mulcahy think differently.

“I definitely see it as a win-win to the city,” said Mulcahy.

First Alert 4 sat down with Mulcahy and Mayor Lowery to understand why they’re pushing through with a land swap.

The city council plans to vote next Monday to swap out land with a developer.

The city will give up the western portion of Koch Park, and a developer will build over 100 homes in that spot.

Florissant will then get back land next to the Missouri River and near Sunset Park.

“The ability to keep our residents here in the City of Florissant because we don’t offer these type of homes,” said Lowery.

Mayor Lowery said the city hasn’t had a housing development project this century because of a lack of space, and people looking for a two-story home have a tough time finding one in town.

“Our two bedrooms and one bath are getting small on us,” said Lowery.

AJ Friehoff is among the younger residents looking for a step up home and said he’d be interested in those new homes.

“We want to stay here,” said Friehoff.

The city would not be giving up the part of Koch Park that includes playground equipment and ball fields.

As for what the city is giving up at Koch Park, there is an archery range that they said they’re going to replace at a different location. And as for the rest of the park, it’s largely a pasture.

First Alert 4 found a few residents using it to walk and play golf on Monday.

“It’s a passive piece of parkland that we don’t really use for anything else,” said Lowery.

The city will receive 43 acres of land in a wooded area that city officials say will include plenty of walking trails.

“You definitely feel like you’re in a state park and not anywhere in Florissant,” said Mulcahy.

But Wilson and Clines said it’s simply undesirable land with thick woods and steep hills.

“So it’s not equal ground at all. They’re saying it’s a nature trail, but I’ve been back behind that property; you certainly couldn’t push a baby carriage or walk a dog,” said Wilson.

And they also said that residents they know didn’t have any idea this was happening.

“It was a sneak attack on the residents,” said Clines.

Mayor Lowery points to the city’s comprehensive plan that residents had a say in. It clearly states the city seeks to redevelop land in Koch Park.

And that they couldn’t make anything public until a deal was secured with the private developer.

“I mean, as soon as we could have released information, the information was released,” said Lowery.

Clines and Wilson say they’re rallying people to protest the project for next week and will do everything they can to block the deal.