ST. LOUIS (AP) - Plans for a $380 million renovation of the Gateway Arch grounds in St. Louis could be delayed up to four months because of a dispute between a nonprofit partner and the federal park service over a contract for tram rides at the monument.
The National Park Service's construction advisory board didn't approve the project Wednesday after a presentation by Arch grounds officials in Denver. The board's approval is required before bidding and construction can begin and the board doesn't meet again until March, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/HCaPDv ).
One of the project's main partners, the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, refused to provide several agreements it has with the park service for the presentation. Those agreements dictate the entities' relationship, including how the nonprofit raises money, how that money is donated to the Arch grounds and how the organization provides for ongoing maintenance and operations.
Officials with the nonprofit, which is raising private funds and leading renovation designs, said they are upset a separate contract concerning operation of the Arch trams hasn't been signed.
"We weren't able to pull the trigger (Wednesday)," said Tom Bradley, superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which includes the Arch grounds. "It's not a good thing. It slows us down."
Walter Metcalfe, chairman of the CityArchRiver board, said he withheld the agreements because the park service has not signed a new contract with Metro Transit, which runs the trams that carry visitors up the 630-foot Arch and uses the proceeds from the rides to maintain the trams. Metcalfe said he wants to be sure Metro continues to receive funds from the rides because the trams need maintenance and repairs.
"We said we're not going to pay for things you haven't taken care of. We're here to do new stuff," Metcalfe said of the renovation designs. "We want to make sure - because this is never going to be a federal bailout - that the visitors' money stays in St. Louis."
Metcalfe noted CityArchRiver has $105 million, with pledges of close to another $45 million.
Bradley agreed the contract with Metro should have been signed, saying it is caught up in bureaucracy.
Project leaders are pushing to have the renovation done by the Arch's 50th anniversary in October 2015.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com