CLAYTON • Gearing up for the city's centennial in 2013, the Clayton Century Foundation has announced plans to raise $20 million from private sources to invest in the city.
The foundation's most ambitious goal is to raise $8 million to convert the city's Shaw Park Ice Rink into a year-round multipurpose facility.
The foundation needs $1 million to restore the Martin F. Hanley House, a pre-Civil War structure that is owned by the city and open to the public.
The foundation, a non-profit organization formed two years ago as a private partner to the city of Clayton, now has more than 300 members.
Last week, the foundation's leadership group gathered at Ruth's Chris Steak House to discuss goals and to toast the 223rd birthday anniversary of Clayton's namesake, Ralph Clayton.
Included in the leadership group are current and former city officials, civic and corporate leaders and representatives of arts and historical organizations.
Gary Feder, a lawyer and president of the foundation, and Mayor Linda Goldstein announced two major gifts.
One, from the Centene Charitable Foundation, is for a major piece of art in the Century Garden, at the entrance to Shaw Park.
The other, from Brown Shoe Co., will finance a much-expanded recreational and fitness trail in Shaw Park.
Two other gifts — from Washington University and the Smith Moore and Co. brokerage — will pay for publishing a Clayton Centennial history book.
"The initial response is overwhelmingly positive, with a number of individual and corporate leaders pledging support for projects that reflect their passions," Feder said.
Goldstein said she would donate about $2,800 — all the money left in her campaign fund for mayor — to the foundation's goal.
The projects will benefit not only Clayton but will bolster what Clayton can offer the region, Goldstein said.
The largest project — the conversion of the Shaw Park rink — has been endorsed by city aldermen. The plan calls for construction of a partly covered skating rink that would be a year-round, versatile facility. The space also could be used as a special event venue and an amphitheater.
The restoration of the Hanley House has long been a priority for history buffs.
"The city has been spending nearly $75,000 per year to complete the restoration since 2007," said Patty DeForrest, director of Clayton's Parks and Recreation Department. "At that rate, it will take nearly 15 years to complete the work. The CCF would like to help raise funds to speed up that process."
Most of the projects are related to the city's parks master plan and would depend on public and grant funding as well as the private money, DeForrest said.
One project — a $587,500 Treetop Inclusion Playground at Shaw Park accessible to children with disabilities — has been completed with help from the foundation, Clayton Rotary Club and public sources. The playground opened in October.
The major expansion of the Shaw Park recreational walking trail is estimated to cost $375,000, with $150,000 from Brown Shoe. The public art for Shaw Park's Centennial Garden is estimated at $600,000. A board with experts from the St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Park and the foundation will help make the selection.
Presently, a Renoir sculpture of a female nude graces the garden. It's on loan from the St. Louis Art Museum.
Alderman Judy Goodman, who came up with the idea for the foundation, said it welcomes new members and supporters.
"There are many opportunities for contributions to ensure our community remains a vibrant destination," she said.
DeForrest added: "With an overriding goal to help fund quality of life initiatives, the Clayton Century Foundation, a dedicated group of volunteers, should serve the needs of the many for years to come."
Ralph Clayton is most remembered for donating 100 acres and Martin F. Hanley four acres to help establish a county seat.