By TIM ROWDEN
Florissant, MO – What had been a burdensome eyesore for the City of Florissant is getting a new life as a training facility for first responders thanks to the efforts of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 58, the St. Louis Electrical Connection, IBEW Local 1/St. Louis Chapter NECA and union contractors.
Five unfinished and long vacant Fleurissant Parc Place townhomes will soon be used by first responders to develop and enhance public safety skills.
The three-story townhomes have stood, unfinished, at the intersection where North New Florissant Road ends at Carla Drive since 2008, when the economic recession quashed plans for the development.
Exposed to the weather, and open to intruders, the three-story townhomes were a visual blight and public safety hazard.
The Florissant Valley Fire Protection District, the Black Jack Fire Protection District and Florissant Police Department will use the formerly derelict structure to train for real-life emergencies.
“Anytime we can give back to the community we live in, it’s always a good thing,” said Rich Lucks, director of business development for Painters District Council 58 and a Florissant resident. “We’re proud to be able to help the community like this. It’s always good to see Labor coming together and the contractors coming together to do something good for the community.”
Painters District Council 58 recently went through tough contract negotiations with the Painting and Decorating Foundation, which represents painting and drywall taping contractors, but Lucks said, “Even after our differences in negotiations, both Labor and management were able to come together collectively to benefit the community.”
Florissant resident and community supporter Rick Phillips of All-American Painting coordinated with District Council 58 to provide union painters to apply more than 200 gallons of paint on the exterior of the three-story complex.
The St. Louis Electrical Connection, a partnership between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), provided power lifts for the painters and, with signatory contractor Kay-Bee Electric, of Florissant, is providing lighting and power for the facility.
“This is an opportunity to give back and turn an eyesore into something useful that will benefit the fire fighters and police who serve and protect this community,” said Tim Green, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Electrical Connection.
Florissant Mayor Thomas Schneider watched the progress on the project last week
“We had a lemon three weeks ago,” Schneider said. “Today, we have lemonade. Instead of being a public nuisance, it’s a training facility for public safety.”
Eight years ago, the townhomes represented the beginning of a project that developers planned as a subdivision of three-story townhomes. When the recession hit, the unpainted townhomes were left unfinished and the remaining eight-acre Fleurissant Parc Place site was left undeveloped
Steven and Milton Goldenberg, the owners of Golden Management — the firm that manages Kensington Square and other area apartment projects — purchased the Fleurissant Parc site four years ago and have been working to develop the property.
Schneider credited the Goldenbergs last week for their role in transforming the townhomes into a facility to serve the public good.
“We are delighted that Golden Management has generously agreed to allow first responders to use this location as their First Responders Training Center,” Schneider said. “The use of this building by first responders from the Florissant Fire Protection District, Black Jack Fire Protection District and Florissant Police Department is an excellent and very important utilization for the facility. It also contributes to the safety of our residents and those throughout North County.”
Schneider also credited Florissant Economic Development Director Bob Russell for coordinating the project with first responders, sponsors, the unions and contractors, and Meridian Waste Management, of Bridgeton, which donated a construction trash container for the project.
Florissant Fire Protection District Chief Scott Seppelt said the town houses will allow for realistic training for fire fighters from his and other districts. “This makes training so much more realistic,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable benefit.”