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Check-in with Our Chair, Tom Melzer

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Tom Melzer

This article was originally published in our fall 2022 newsletter, View 630'.


It’s an honor to be writing to you as chair of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation Board of Trustees. I have enjoyed serving this past year in this role after being actively involved as a board member since 2018, and I am looking forward to the year ahead. 

I first became acquainted with the Foundation when the Arch grounds were still under construction during the CityArchRiver project, shortly before the reopening. John McDonnell, a board member at that time, introduced me to the organization and asked me to consider getting involved. It’s hard to overstate how important I think this treasure in Downtown St. Louis is, knowing what an asset it is to the community, and I thought, “What more important thing could I be involved in?” 

At that time, I was impressed by the capabilities and energy of the staff and all they were taking on, and that has only grown over the years. The Foundation’s leadership and staff today, while a small team, is an especially strong one.

During the past few years, as you know, we’ve made a transition from CityArchRiver “project manager” to a conservancy. We’ve been building out the staff, which was originally oriented toward construction and is now focused on operations. The progress we’ve made in that regard — the strong position that Foundation operations are in at the current time — is what I’m most pleased about. 

We’ve been seeking new sources of revenue, ensuring we are in a good place to continue to steward the growth and success of this park for future generations, and enhancing our fundraising capabilities. We’ve also implemented a DEI program that elevates our ability to achieve our mission and best serve the entire St. Louis community.

Executive Director Ryan McClure and the Board have put into place a strong strategic framework, incorporating themes integral to the original CityArchRiver project, with an overall message that we are doing everything we can to bring people Downtown by enhancing the Arch experience and contributing to the region’s vibrancy. 

And there are things we are doing with the National Park Service that we have never done before, including supporting full-time NPS education positions, taking on the co-management of the volunteer program, and providing ongoing funding for regular Museum repairs. 

Looking ahead, we plan to expand and grow our operational capabilities and develop strategies to support the national park’s evolving needs in the decades to come. As we all know, parks are never “done,” and we anticipate supporting shorter-term and longer-term projects as they arise to maintain a world-class park experience. One of these projects is the upcoming renovation to the Old Courthouse, only its second significant renovation since it was built, for which preparations have been underway. 

In this regard, we will maintain a strong Board and build the financial strength of the Foundation. And we will adapt our strategic framework each fiscal year to account for changes in our environment over time. 

As tourism and travel continue to “come back” following the pandemic hiatus, and as our own St. Louis community demonstrates their enthusiasm for our events and programs again and again, I remain exceedingly optimistic about the future of not only this organization and this park, but of the entire St. Louis region. 

Thank you for your support, and I look forward to another great year!