By Yvonne Samuel
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
June 4, 2001

The owner of the Arena Bar and Grill said she was happy with the neighborhood but unhappy with the red tape she had to go through.

The Cheltenham neighborhood is as good as it gets, says Pete Venincasa.

For 20 years, Venincasa has lived in his "family-oriented" neighborhood close to St. Louis University High School and the Dogtown neighborhood. His house at 5900 West Park Avenue once was occupied by his grandparents, Ralph and Adelle Grandinetti.

Although Venincasa drives a total of 56 miles a day to go to and from his job in Washington, Mo., he says he doesn't mind because he can't imagine living anyplace else. "I refuse to move there," he said.


"My neighbors know me and I know them," he said. "I have a sense of community."

He says he's most proud of the fact that he knows most of his neighbors. An added factor is that young people again are moving into the neighborhood.

Many of the single-family houses in Cheltenham were built for the Irish, Italian, German and Polish immigrants who worked in the nearby factories. With the closing of the mining and clay factories in World War II, new subdivisions were built over the abandoned properties.

The neighborhood is in close proximity to Forest Park, the St. Louis Science Center and Turtle Park. It has as its anchors the Humane Society of Missouri, the Salvation Army's regional headquarters and St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.

The neighborhood is bounded by Oakland Avenue on the north, Manchester Avenue on the south, Hampton Avenue on the west and Macklind Avenue on the east.

At the meeting, a police officer said that the neighborhood would no longer have its two bicycle police officers because of budget cuts. "That's a luxury that we lost," he said.

The officer said that in recent months, the neighborhood had had six car thefts, a rape that ended in the neighborhood and a robbery at the Holiday Inn.

Lisa Kehm, owner of the Arena Bar and Grill, said she was happy to locate her restaurant in the neighborhood. Her business is at 5760 West Park Avenue.

However, she complained about the red tape at City Hall to open her small business. "It was a nightmare," she said.

John Raniero, president and one of the founders of the association, led a brief discussion on changing the frequency of the neighborhood meetings. "Years ago, we used to have meetings every three months," he said.

But after redistricting, the association met once a month. He says that if he is re-elected next year, he will propose that the association meet quarterly.

Currently, the association conducts eight meetings a year.


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