Soulard in St. Louis Jan. 6 - Mar. 4, 2014Use Metro and get to Mardi Gras the easy way
MARDI GRAS FOUNDATION, 7th Ward ALDERMAN JACK COATAR ANNOUNCE FUNDING FOR NEW SOULARD SECURITY CAMERAS
St. Louis, Mo. –The Mardi Gras Foundation (MGF) and 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar today announced funding for a new security camera program in Soulard. Initial funds for the program came from MGF and the 7th Ward Capital Improvement Fund provided the largest source of funding. The camera system itself is a joint project of the Soulard Restoration Group, the Soulard Business Association, and the Soulard Special Business District. It involves the placement of 16 cameras throughout the Soulard neighborhood. Several of these are License Plate Recognition cameras, a technology which has proven instrumental in numerous investigations by the SLMPD; in total, the community organizations involved and Alderman Coatar expect the system to enhance safety in the neighborhood. The system should be complete by Autumn 2017.
“Safety is a top priority for the neighborhoods I represent,” said Alderman Coatar. “Soulard’s leadership in bringing this project forward, and the Mardi Gras Foundation grant which got it moving, enabled the 7th Ward to make a substantial contribution to the effort. Together, we have built a far more robust system than we could have individually. This project is a good model for collective community action, and I believe it will make the neighborhood safer.”
The Soulard Camera System was initiated with a $23,000 Mardi Gras Foundation Community Improvement Grant via proceeds from the Mayor’s Ball. This amount was supplemented by 7th Ward Capital Improvement funds, along with funds from the Soulard Restoration Group, Soulard Business Association, Soulard Special Business District and individual Soulard businesses McGurk’s and Molly’s. The community (including the MGF grant) raised more than $85,000 for this project, while the 7th Ward contributed an additional $110,000.
“I’m pleased to see funds from the Mayor’s Ball going to such an important project,” said Mayor Francis Slay. “Nothing is more important than enhancing public safety, and the needs of a neighborhood like Soulard, which attracts many thousands of visitors every year, makes a camera program particularly useful. In addition, as does the the Mardi Gras Foundation, I like to see these grants enable community-wide collaboration.”
Bill Clendenin, president of the Soulard Restoration Group echoed these comments, noting that Soulard is a strong neighborhood with a long record of collaboration. “Soulard has engaged, passionate residents and a strong business community,” he said. “In addition, we attract thousands of visitors year-round. Recognizing the success cameras have had elsewhere, we wanted to develop a system that would make our neighborhood safer for our neighbors and visitors all year long. Thanks to our many partners in this effort, the Soulard Camera System will now begin to do that.”
The Soulard Camera System is designed to communicate directly with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), where the announcement was made. It included a demonstration of how these cameras will integrate with the RTCC. This element is crucial, said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson. “We know the technology works,” Dotson said. “We have seen real results in other parts of St. Louis where camera systems are in place, results that would not be possible otherwise. I expect we will see the same effects in Soulard.”
Mack Bradley, president of the Mardi Gras Foundation, said “We were happy to provide the initial funding for the Soulard camera system. We look for projects that make permanent improvements to the community and bring neighborhood organizations together in a common purpose. Moreover, we prefer to use our grants to leverage other funding which enables the neighborhood to pursue larger projects, and that was certainly the case here.”
About Mardi Gras Foundation Community Improvement Grants
As of this year, the Mayor’s Ball has raised a total of $500,000 for Community Improvement Grants in Soulard and downtown. Previous Community Improvement Grants include:
- Planting 160 new trees along Soulard streets, a 12% increase in the number of street trees in the Soulard Historic District
- Historic wrought iron fences and lighting in and around Soulard Market Park and Pontiac Park
- Support for the Soulard School
- Seed money for the development of the Soulard Entryway project at Gravois and Tucker
- Seed and expansion funding for the Old Frenchtown Dog Park
- Soulard’s participation in St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission regional wayfinding signage
- Capital improvements to the Gene Slay Boys’ Club in Soulard
- New playground equipment in Lucas Park
- Downtown beautification through Gateway Greening
- Funding for the National Blues Museum, a world-class cultural attraction now open in Downtown St. Louis.
About the Mardi Gras Foundation
Founded in 2002, the Mardi Gras Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 that raises money to provide Community Improvement Grants to the Soulard Neighborhood, which has hosted Soulard Mardi Gras since 1980, and to downtown St. Louis. The Foundation also supports the efforts of Mardi Gras, Inc. (MGI), which produces Soulard Mardi Gras, by funding public safety, clean-up and other efforts related to larger MGI events.