Charlie Schmidt has a complaint about neighbors who have trash blowing around. There are candy wrappers, water bottles, plastic bags, paper cups, ticket stubs. The trash blows their property and litters a section of the most popular state park in Missouri, the 238-mile-long Katy Trail.
This neighbor happens to be the St. Charles Family Arena, operated by St. Charles County. The arena parking lot is separated from the Katy Trail by a 10-foot-wide grassy strip.
“This is an insult to our county. People come here to use the trail, frequent our restaurants, stay in our hotels, and this is the face we give them,” Schmidt told St. Charles County Council members during their meeting Monday.
Schmidt, who lives half a mile from the site and rides the Katy Trail regularly, said he’s been after the county for 11 years to keep the area clean. He showed photos of trash along the Katy Trail.
Councilwoman Nancy Matheny, R-District 3, told Schmidt, “You make a compelling point.”
On Tuesday, county spokesman John Sonderegger said the county will act and clean up the area. Sonderegger said Mark Reifstek, the Family Arena building director, believes much of the trash comes from events held in the site’s huge parking lot, such as car manufacturer shows and driving competitions.
“He’s instituting a new policy in which we will have people out in the parking lot during these events cleaning up the area,” Sonderegger said. “They’re going to build a cleanup fee into the building rental, especially during these ride and drive events.”
He said trash barrels are in the parking lot during the events, but they overflow or the wind blows litter out. The trash barrels are removed after the events to eliminate dumping.
He said the county does provide cleanup along the Katy Trail near the Family Arena and will see that the area is cleaned up.
Schmidt said that any trash left in the lot blows over onto the trail, which runs adjacent to the Family Arena parking lot for about half a mile.
Because of grass, ditches and the wooded area on the east side of the Katy Trail, the trash isn’t easily seen from the arena parking lot. But it is readily noticeable by trail users, Schmidt said.
“You can really see it in the fall when the leaves are off the trees,” Schmidt said. “There’s even an orange traffic barrel back in the trees. It’s been there for several years.”