Back in my younger days, I was an avid hiker. Hiking the Grand Canyon was the coolest thing for me, but one of the focal points was being able to dine at Phantom Ranch at the bottom.
Interestingly, most of the time, I didn't do it. Out of 4 hikes, I usually didn't have the time or money. One time it was in my plans, but I would have had to wait an hour for lunch, and I had another leg of hiking to do before nightfall. There just was a mystique about having a restaurant that was entirely supported by mule trains.
There have been talks about getting local control of the archgrounds so that we can make more of the space. On one visit with my (at the time) two boys, I saw crumbling improvements and a space that didn't seem to favor the current National Park Service management of the place.
Today, the Post Dispatch reported that there may be some changes on the horizon. The local control idea was dropped in favor of beaurocracy of the NPS. Sounds good. I think of the initial Arch Grounds being cleared in the 30's, the competition for the design in '47 and the arch completion in '66. A real plug for beaurocracy, huh?
The good news is that they are open to making the changes and taking a national landmark and really making it an experience.
As a child, we took field trips to places like the Arch, the Zoo, etc. I remember as a child thinking that the Arch and its associated museum were sort of lame. Some would argue that speaks more to my sense of entitlement than to the Arch. I wouldn't argue, but watching the downtown renaissance unfold over the past decade, I'm more inclined to think that we can do better with the Arch Grounds too.
My thought from here is to shout out to the public to PARTICIPATE!! Especially the creative types: architects, artists, visionaries, entrepeneurs. It seems that society often relies on the decisions of the "ruling class". One perk of the NPS is that they level the playing field and truly look for the best plans. That doesn't mean that St Louisan's should sit back and play the waiting game. Check for the news release once it's posted on the National Park Service news site and give some input. The community will benefit more from participation now rather than sitting back and criticizing later.