An Update on Sunset Hills

(circa 1982)

Booklet Funds Spent
Great things have been happening in our fair city since 1976, when the beginning of the book was written. There was much discussion in the council as to how the money the city had been accumulating should be spent. A City Hall could be built; a park for the city could be completed. Thanks to very wise financial planning by the city fathers. We were able to have both.

Park Grant
The county had a grant available to any community wishing to establish a park within their boundaries, providing the city match their funds dollar for dollar. The mayor then appointed a park board to fulfill the requirements of the county grant. Richard Hafner and Lamar Ottsen were named co-chairmen of the board. The land was purchased from Vernon Rowe. Watson Trail Park consists of 221/2 acres, and is located on West Watson Road West of Lindbergh Boulevard. Improvements in the park property were made one step at a time. With a state grant for construction and improvements, work was complete on 2 tennis courts and the park shelter. Later, a county grant helped to pay for the fishing lake, formed from the old Schultz quarry. Watson Trail Park was dedicated on May 20,1979. Herbert Pyne is the Park Supervisor; he not only oversees the maintenance, but arranges many outstanding activities for various age groups. A tennis tournament has just been completed and a fishing derby is scheduled for the near future. He is working closely with the Chairman on the 25th Anniversary in June.

Public Works Department
In 1981, not long after the death of Hurshel Riggs, the city established its own Public Works Department. Prior to that time, the Riggs Company had been providing street and park maintenance for the city for over 10 years. The city hired most of the employees, and equipment was also purchased. Today, this department consists of 5 men and our Public Works Director.

City Hall
On ground adjacent to the park and fronting on South Lindbergh Boulevard, the City Hall for the City of Sunset Hills was officially dedicated on October 5, 1980. The architects were the firm Kromm, Rikimaru, and Johansen. The new building faces the sunset and overlooks the park. Inside is space for the Police Department, city offices, and the assembly room, which is used for court, alderman, and board meetings. Art work by resident's is usually on display in the spacious lobby.

Franz House
The news media helped promote our city in 1981. The State Highway Department had contracted to have the Franz House removed or torn down, in preparation for some highway improvements. Sixteen years old Brian Kolde appeared before the Board of Aldermen in February to request the city to preserve the log house as an historical site. As a direct result of this, Brian became one of the youngest civic officials in the country when Mayor William Wundrack appointed Kolde and 2 others to sit on a new Sunset Hills Historical Commission. The other commissioners named were Nancy Benson and Patricia Bessinger. Brian did a great deal of research into the antiquity of the house. His report on what he learned is included in this new addition of the book. Brian was helped by Landmark's President, Gerhardt Kramer, and the County Parks Department, both of who advised him, "You can't save every log cabin in the county but it is worth investigating." The building was not saved for Sunset Hills, but it was not destroyed either. The house was dismantled piece by piece and labeled; purchased by someone who will rebuild the structure on another site.

Commercial Growth
Commercial establishments in the city are developing into a fine example of what good office buildings should be. Sunset Hills Office Park was begun in 1971, with 4 buildings; 2 buildings are yet to be constructed. In 1974, Southwest Executive Office Park built 3 structures between Highway 366 and Interstate 44. The exterior finishing reflects our glorious sunsets, giving a golden glow to the area. Gravois Road is also growing commercially. The Sunset Hills Industrial Park at Rahning Drive, now Maurer Industrial Drive and Gravois is located just west of the St. Louis County Water Purification Plant. Charles Eime's farm has been converted into a lovely retirement center, Friendship Village. Landmark Office Park, at Highway 270 and Gravois Road is nearing completion by General American Life Insurance Co. Sunset Plaza has really taken on a new life with the addition of Landmark Bank and Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. The new owners of the plaza are continually working to upgrade the center and have plans for much more renovation of Mr. Beim's wheat field.

All this activity has been done under the watchful eye of our City Engineer, Denis Knock, and the elected city officials. We have an enthusiastic, civic-minded group of people that make up our community. It would take pages to name all those who have served on the many committees.

Fourth Ward
The population growth and shift in the city made it necessary to divide the city into 4 wards instead of the original 3. The fourth ward has been created from that section of the city lying west of 270 and south of 66. On April 6,1982, 2 aldermen were elected to serve the newly established Ward IV.

25th Birthday
June 1982 marks the 25th birthday of Sunset Hills. A gala 3-day celebration is planned to commemorate the event June 4, 5, and 6. Nancy Benson is serving as Chairman, having proved herself a capable manager of the Bi-Centennial festival. The plans include a birthday party Friday night, a festival Saturday, ending in a display of fireworks, and a run and house tour on Sunday, June 6. The revised edition of this book is a birthday present for the city.