Messenger: Feds seek halt to work in Creve Coeur park, putting new Blues practice home on thin ice | Tony Messenger

Four days before fans of the St. Louis Blues packed the St. Louis County Council chambers to rally public support for the professional hockey team’s proposed new practice arena, the National Park Service sent a warning to Missouri.

The St. Louis Ice Center will not qualify for approval as an acceptable “public facility,” the park service wrote the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Under federal law, the 250,000-square-foot project pitched for the northwest corner of Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park must be approved by the park service. But because the federal agency believes that construction of the project has begun without its approval, it is asking DNR to shut it down.

“We therefore ask that you instruct the sponsor, St. Louis County, to cease work so that all legal compliance can be accomplished before construction continues,” wrote an acting director of the recreation grant program.

The letter — sent Aug. 25 — was the second such missive in the past two months. It spurred a meeting on Tuesday in Jefferson City between DNR officials and top county officials. At that meeting, — just a few hours before the county council passed a resolution seeking to delay the project — Sheila Sweeney, CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, and Gary Bess, the county’s parks director, verbally assured DNR that construction work related on the proposed ice center site is for an unrelated — and not yet documented — stormwater project.

On Wednesday afternoon, Missouri Division of State Parks Director Ben Ellis warned Bess and Sweeney in a letter that any construction activities related to the ice center “are prohibited.” The letter allowed the grading work to continue “so long as the work conforms with all applicable…

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