5 min read
Posted on 04.14.08
  • 5 min read
  • Posted on 04.14.08

Mayor Francis Slay made the following remarks at the re-opening of the historic Winston Churchill Apartments today:

Good morning. We are here to talk about the progress we are making toward our goal of ending lead poisoning of our City’s children ... and to celebrate the remarkable re-opening of a newly renovated building where all of the apartments are lead safe.

Winston Churchill Apartments is a great example of two successful City initiatives: our Lead Safe St. Louis initiative and our Problem Properties task force.

A few years ago, this building was caked with dangerous lead paint and was one of the City’s worst problem properties.

By the year 2000, the property had management, drug, and crime problems. The police, neighbors and the City Counselor intervened. There was a community hearing and the owner agreed to sell the property.

The new owner, with assistance from the ward’s alderman, the Visitation Park Neighborhood, and City agencies has transformed this building from a dangerous eyesore into livable, lead-safe apartments.

Eagle Point Companies was one of the first, and to-date, is the largest to participate in this program. It represents a change in the way our City approaches lead poisoning of children. Instead of waiting for children to get sick before someone intervenes, we are testing more children and making more housing lead-safe before the damage is done.

Reducing lead poisoning of children is critically important to their future. Young children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to lead’s harmful health effects, because their brains and central nervous system are still being formed. For them, even very low levels of exposure can result in reduced IQ, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing, and kidney damage.

That’s why this program is so important, and why I am so pleased to report on the remarkable progress we are making.

The rate of childhood lead poisoning in St. Louis has dropped more than 65% since 2003. Even more encouraging is the fact that the percentage of children with dangerous levels of lead in their blood has dropped from 13.6% to 4%.

That is the result of our new strategy. We are testing more children, acting sooner when they test positive, making more units lead safe and focusing on at risk neighborhoods. Since 2003, we have made 2,765 units lead safe for our families.

Please look closely at the Lead Safe St. Louis Progress board on display and notice that the bulk of our funds are being directed to the wards with the highest rates of lead poisoning.

I would like to acknowledge and thank some of the many people who have made our Lead Safe program successful ... and who made the redevelopment of the Winston Churchill Apartments possible.

Laura Burns, President of The Eagle Point Companies, and Cory Fellows, the Portfolio Manager for this site from Eagle Point Enterprises.

Alderman Frank Williamson of the 26th Ward has provided strong leadership in improving housing in this ward. The recent inclusion of the 26th Ward as a Housing Conservation District will insure that families will live in safe and healthy homes.

Peggy Barnhart, who is representing Sen. Kit Bond. Sen. Bond has been a great friend to the City and has secured tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to protect children from lead.

Joshua Levy of Centerline Capital Group: the City appreciates the investment of your company in this project.

Savannah Holliday, you represent the citizens of St. Louis, and in your life you have seen tremendous changes in neighborhoods such as this one.

Matt Ammon, Deputy Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control is here celebrating the success of our Lead Safe St. Louis initiative. HUD lead grants have provided more than $22 Million in assistance to the City to find and remediate lead hazards in our housing.

Ruth Ann Norton, Executive Director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and author of my 2003 Action Plan to Eradicate Childhood Lead Poisoning in St. Louis. She joins Matt Ammon and our Lead Safe St. Louis Team as we showcase this shining example of primary prevention of lead paint poisoning.

I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of:

The Missouri Housing Development Commission

The architect, Klitzing Welsch Associates

The contractor, E. M. Harris Construction, and

The lead abatement contractor, Bellon Environmental

This property would not have been the model of lead safe City development without the efforts of Jill Claybour, the acting Executive Director of the St. Louis Community Development Administration.

Jill brought the Building Division’s new Multi-Family Lead Remediation Program to the attention of Eagle Point, and they generously committed to the process to make sure these homes are lead safe.

I’d like to acknowledge the contributions of the City’s Building Division in ensuring the lead safe conditions of these units:

The leadership of the Building Division by Commissioner Frank Oswald and the management of the Lead Inspection and Hazard Control Section by Jerry Wessels.

Randy Mourning, Executive Assistant to Frank Oswald, who recognized in his permit reporting on residential redevelopment, that this was a great opportunity for the City to partner with developers to ensure lead safe property.

Don Koen, Earl Morris, and George Goins, City Lead Abatement and Building Inspectors, who performed the lead inspections, risk assessments, and clearance testing to establish that these homes are lead safe.

I would like to recognize Bill Rataj, the Director of Housing Programs in the City’s Community Development Administration, and his staff for management, tracking, and reporting contributions of lead-safe housing units to HUD.

I am very pleased by the progress we have made. Far fewer children are exposed to dangerous levels of lead paint because of the hard work and dedication of the people here today... and many others. But, we will not rest until we meet our goal of ending lead poisoning of children once and for all.

Thank you for your attention to this critically important matter.