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Jeff, Alex and Samantha Goodman stand in what could become MetroLink right of way if the southern expansion of light-rail service passes through the city of Green Park. The family had planned to put a swimming pool where they're standing when they bought the home three years ago. Bill Milligan photo (click for larger version)

Expansion of MetroLink into south county opposed by some residents in Green Park

Jeff Goodman planned to build a pool in his back yard for his children when he bought a home in Green Park three years ago.

But after a meeting last week at City Hall, Goodman's wondering if he will have to fight to keep from losing his back yard to accommodate MetroLink's expansion into south county.

"They're saying they'll take a little sliver of my back yard,'' he said. "A little sliver and my back yard is gone. Once they come onto my property, they're on top of my house.''

But after last Thursday's MetroLink presentation at the Green Park City Hall, he's wondering how long he'll have to fight to keep from losing his back yard to accommodate MetroLink's expansion into south county.

"They're saying they'll take a little sliver of my back yard,'' Goodman said. "A little sliver and my back yard is gone. Once they come onto my property, they're on top of my house.''

Goodman and his family bought their home in the 10000 block off Canterbury Estates Drive in Green Park on Oct. 31, 2001.

Situated on a cul-de-sac, Goodman said the home attracted them because it was the largest yard in a subdivision of $250,000 to $300,000 homes.

Metro officials said the Goodman home would be the only one that would lose land to the trains southern expansion if the Burlington Northern route was approved.

But homes adjacent to the Burlington Northern tracks along Cedarberry Place would each lose common ground that is within the area presently surrounded by their back yard fences — a "sliver'' about the same size as the Goodman's.

Roughly 50 people crowded into the Green Park City Hall for the town-hall meeting sponsored by the city and listened to representatives of Metro and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. Many of those present voiced their opposition to the proposed expansion of MetroLink to south county.

Three possible MetroLink routes are being considered — the Orange and Blue lines, both of which would terminate at Butler Hill Road, and the Purple line, a much-shortened Red line, that would end at or near Watson/Kenrick Plaza. All three must begin at the Lansdowne terminus where the current cross-county line via Clayton to Shrewsbury will end.

The Blue route would follow the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway to north of Lindbergh Boulevard across to Interstate 55 and south adjacent to the Westfield Shoppingtown South County, while the Orange line would run along the River Des Peres and south along Interstate 55.

"The Burlington Northern line rated favorably in most categories, primarily because of economic development,'' said Justin Carney of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

"You can understand why,'' he continued. "Both the Burlington Northern and the Green Mackenzie route went through the heart of south county — right through where there is an awful lot of concentration of jobs, concentration of population and so the densities were there that made that Blue line fare pretty well as far as economic development."

The option that would affect Goodman would continue along the Burlington Northern tracks to Butler Hill Road.

County Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, said he could favor the longest route, which would run from Shrewsbury along the River Des Peres to the east side of I-55 and through Lemay into Oakville, if it would connect with the former National Lead site in Lemay.

"I'm trying to do everything I can to help Lemay,'' Campisi said. "Most of the people who would ride light rail live in Lemay and it makes sense to put it as close to them as possible. Because they're putting it in the I-55 corridor, there would be fewer neighborhoods disrupted.''

Carney said it would attract commuters as well.

"We're proposing either a Butler Hill or Meramec Bottom Road park-and-ride,'' Carney said. "We're obviously capturing your commuters. So, from an access from auto and access to transit-dependent riders it fared very well. It also fared very well in neighborhood preservation ... there weren't a lot of residential displacements — and in performance.

"We were in the River Des Peres right of way and the I-55 right-of-way. Even though it's the longest route on there, it was probably the fastest (to build),'' he added.

But without the National Lead spur and elimination of efforts to locate multi-family housing along the route, Campisi said he would not support the plan.

Goodman said he will fight the Burlington Northern route.

"I don't have any plans of leaving,'' he said. "We don't want this. I want to keep my property. Six months ago we were led to believe the train would be going underground. Now they're talking about an open trench. They want to buy a 'sliver' of my land and stick me with the house.''

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