Members of the Olde Towne Fenton Business Association met Tuesday to discuss plans for the district where the got it start. A festival this August commemorating the reopening of the Old Gravois Road Bridge and the founding of the City of Fenton is in the works.
"We want to make a big 'to-do' about it," said Christine Manes, who heads up the Olde Towne group.
The bridge between Fenton and Sunset Hills has been a focal point of the city for decades. Just upstream from the bridge is where a ferry boat was established in 1833 to transport passengers and goods across the river. A covered toll bridge, built in 1854 was in use until 1885 when it was replaced by an iron bridge that was used until the so-called old bridge was built in 1925. The old bridge was closed in August 2007 after a St. Louis County inspection found extensive deterioration to the bridge deck and support system. The "new" Old Gravois Road Bridge has been beset by weather delays during its construction and now is expected to open in late August.
The most pressing need for the Olde Towne group is coordination of a beautification day for the area on June 16, a task that involves recruiting volunteers, providing services and generating support for the continuation of efforts to revive the business area.
The bigger task at hand is the reopening of the Old Gravois Road Bridge that links Olde Towne Fenton and Sunset Hills. The businesses along Old Gravois Road have eagerly anticipated the opening of the bridge and the restoration of traffic through the district, which represents potential customers that have had to detour around the area for the past three years.
In the plans for this August, to coincide with the reopening of the bridge is a festival that may include food booths, a BBQ cookoff and fireworks. It ws announced at the meeting that several large businesses in Fenton have agreed to help pay for the festival, including Fabick CAT, Unigroup, Maritz and Dobbs.
The festival, loosely scheduled for late August, also would celebrate the 175th birthday of Fenton.
The August celebration will take place in the general area of Old Gravois Road and Old Hwy. 141 and could include the use of Olde Towne Plaza Park, a tucked-away 4.8-acre park at Ware and Center streets in Olde Towne. An area adjacent to the park is the site of a large pavilion being built at the Meramec Greenway trailhead. The 5,175 square-foot pavilion will be available for public use and may be available in late August for the proposed festival.