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Sappington Barn RFP Bounds Decided at Special Parks Board Meeting

The Crestwood Parks Board met on site at the Sappington Barn to determine the vacant former restaurant facility's best purpose.

Support from the Sappington House Foundation came out in peaceful force to the Crestwood Parks Board meeting June 19.

The Parks Board, arranging to meet at the site of the , had the current vacancy of the barn at the heart of its agenda discussion.

Several members of the Foundation along with Dana Jones, a trustee of the Sappington Library of Americana, spoke to uphold the barn's former use as a restaurant, despite a recent city-released request for proposal that opened up the purpose of the facility.

The RFP, after receiving no responses initially by its , was extended through Aug. 1, 2012. So far, one proposal -- for a restaurant -- has been received.

The , such as a banquet center, bicycle shop or "mom and pop" store.

"Changing [the barn's] original purpose would jeopardize everything that encompasses the complex," Jones said to the board.

Jones, son of Ruth Jones, a founder of the Sappington House Library, asked for more promotion of the complex from the city in general.

Crestwood Mayor Jeff Schlink agreed. "We need to develop a master plan for the complex," Schlink said.

A flow of event ideas for the property came from board members and Foundation members alike, ranging from promoting outside use for weddings and concerts to historical education festivals. But the Foundation stood firm: the Sappington Barn should really house a restaurant.

Since 1960 when the Sappington Barn Center was built on the complex, the facility has been used as a restaurant. Though operators have changed over the years -- four times in the past 13 years alone -- the small kitchen and dining area have served the purpose as a tea room atmosphere. Foundation members, all volunteers, coordinate sales and products in an upstairs attic-like gift shop, paying homage to the Sappington era of the late 19th-century in the arrangement of the experience.

The Foundation's most suggested cause for a lack of recent success with the restaurant was its operating hours. As a whole, the complex is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rosann Shannon, Sappington House Resident Manager, said extended hours weren't unreasonable and would open the complex to more visitors.

Though owned by the city, the complex is maintained primarily from Foundation funds. Jones said the trust intended for the Sappington Library of Americana is being extended for almost $55,000 worth of repairs to the complex, $25,000 of which has already been spent. Painting, roofing, exterior upkeep, library interior additions and concrete walkways are a few of the many enhancements listed.

But Jones said he doesn't want to spend the trust's money if the Barn will not be a restaurant facility.

The Parks Board agreed with a fair consensus from the Foundation to keep the RFP option open, discussing opportunities such as a coffee shop with in-house craftsmen and similar uses. Shannon said she had provided tours of the facility to almost 30 parties interested in a potential RFP for the location thus far.

Director of Public Services Jim Eckrich said he would present the recommendation to maintain the current RFP to the Board of Aldermen. Board members also said they would take more action in promoting the facility for rent. Eckrich said the current RFP, if no others are received, would most likely be presented to the Board of Aldermen in mid-August. 

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