Arnold residents, business owners, employees urged to contact police with concerns about Woodspring Suites
By SHERI GASSAWAY
Arnold, MO – UFCW Local 655 Business Representative Karen Settlemoir-Berg is asking the Arnold City Council for help in an effort to keep Dierbergs employees and customers safe from crime spilling over from a nearby extended-stay hotel.
In a true show of how union representation works, Settlemoir-Berg attended the Jan. 16 City Council meeting to request that the Council revoke all licenses and permits for Woodspring Suites, which was recently shuttered after a fire. Arnold Dierbergs Store Manager Ray McKay was also at the meeting.
The hotel is located at 888 Arnold Commons Drive in the Arnold Commons Shopping Center. Dierbergs, one of many nearby retailers, is a few doors down at 860 Arnold Commons Drive.
DEN OF DRUG ADDICTS, PROSTITUTES, THIEVES
“The hotel has long become a den of drug addicts, prostitutes and thieves,” Settlemoir-Berg said. “Dierbergs has had numerous drug overdoses in their bathrooms, a high volume of theft, customers being accosted on the parking lot and used needles have been found there.”
Dierbergs customers have left the store and told management they don’t feel safe shopping there, she said. Over the years, many of the other retailers have experienced an increase of theft and drug use on the premises as well.
LOSS IN SALES, MEMBERS’ HOURS
“This has cost Dierbergs a loss in sales and a loss in hours for my members,” she said.
“At this point they are considering closing early, which would again cause more loss, not just in sales and revenue for Dierbergs, but in tax money for the City of Arnold.”
Prior to the Council meeting, Settlemoir-Berg, a Jefferson County Labor Club Executive Board member, asked her brothers and sisters from the Club for their support at the meeting, and they didn’t disappoint. About 20 Labor Club members attended to back Settlemoir-Berg and her members.
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY
“That hotel has been an eyesore for years, and we’re here to support and show solidarity to our brothers and sisters who are unfortunately in a bad situation,” Labor Club President Chuck DeMoulin said in an interview. “We’re hoping that by showing a unified voice, we can make a difference.”
Arnold Mayor Ron Counts thanked Settlemoir-Berg for attending the meeting and said that the council had planned to discuss the situation in executive session that night prior to her speaking on the subject.
‘I HOPE WE CAN GET IT RESOLVED’
“You can rest assured that it is our intention to do everything possible to keep the residents and businesses safe,” Counts said. “But in the process, we have to follow the law.”
Taking notice of the union members in the audience, Ward 4 Councilman Butch Cooley, a frequent visitor to the Labor Club’s monthly meetings, said “I’m glad to see all the union members here standing behind Karen. I hope we can get it solved.”
Woodspring Suites opened in 2015 after its predecessor Value Place closed. Value Place opened in 2009 and had been a constant subject of controversy among residents in the community with the main complaint being drug activity and crime.
In 2011, the city considered shutting the hotel down after receiving over 200 complaints in a 22-month period, according to an Arnold Patch article. Instead, an agreement was reached that included more stringent background checks on renters and the 24-hour presence of an Arnold police officer at the hotel’s expense.
The problems reported at Value Place continued when Woodspring Suites took over and the Arnold City Council and police have tried their best at remedying the situation. Unfortunately, the hotel has remained a thorn in the side of residents and local businesses as evidenced by reports in the Arnold-Imperial Leader.
SHARE YOUR CONCERNS
If Arnold residents, business owners or employees have concerns about Woodspring Suites, they are urged to contact Arnold Police Chief Robert Shockey via the city’s website at arnoldmo.org/contact-the-city or mail a letter to him at 2101 Jeffco Blvd., Arnold, MO 63010.