In the coming months the Clayton Board of Aldermen is expected to consider options and recommendations for addressing minority issues within the city.
On Jan. 22, two residents asked that the board consider a city human rights/relations commission. One of those citizens, former mayor Ben Uchitelle, has brought the idea to the board before.
“We can be welcoming and open to visitors, but we are not doing our jobs,” Uchitelle said. “Clayton has become complacent. We don’t have an overall commission addressing the ongoing issue of racism.”
Uchitelle said Kirkwood has a human rights/relations commission and that nationally, places like Atlanta and Bellevue, Washington, also have similar commissions.
Clayton resident Kelvin Westbrook has met with city officials to discuss minority issues.
“I am always interested in ways that we can improve our community and make it a beacon to the St. Louis community and to the nation,” said Westbrook. “I do think that a forum or group can come together to exchange ideas. The region has issues with race and, in Clayton, we are not immune ... we can do better.”
Clayton Mayor Harold Sanger said that while he is open to the idea of a commission, he is hesitant to act immediately. The city is waiting on a final report from 21st Century Policing Solutions LLC (21CP).
“I don’t want to supersede or preclude what they will be recommending, but I believe that something like what you are suggesting will be part of that (report),” said Sanger.
The city hired 21CP following a July 2018 incident in which Clayton police responded to an IHOP for a reported “dine and dash” incident. Police stopped a group of black Washington University students who were walking on Brentwood Boulevard after dining at the IHOP. Police escorted them back to the restaurant, where it was determined that the students were not involved.
The handling of the situation drew complaints and concerns from student families and from Washington University.
In other business, the city:
• Approved a contract with Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions to perform work at DeMun Park. The contract is for $35,108.26, plus a contingency of $20,000. The work will include installation of new playground equipment and a new accessible restroom.
• Agreed to apply for a grant from the Municipal Park Grant Commission of St. Louis County to make improvements to a property the city recently purchased at 7811 Maryland Ave. There is a small house on the property, which had been used by the pastor of a church, located just to the east. The city intends to turn the property into a park.