"Long maligned as an obstacle that severs the city from its riverfront, the grounds around the arch are at the center of a dispute between a group of prominent residents who want to develop parts of the park, including construction of a cultural attraction, most likely a museum, and the National Park Service, which administers the site and is cool to some of the group's proposals.
'We've got two great assets, the Mississippi River and the arch, and we're not really utilizing either of them,' said former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, who leads the group in calling for an international design competition to reinvigorate the park and better integrate it into the environment. 'What we have proposed is a world-class cultural attraction that is on the arch grounds.'
Danforth has pledged $50 million for the project through his family's charity, the Danforth Foundation, which at the request of the city's mayor, Francis Slay, spent two years and $2 million studying the park's problems. He has also promised to help raise $100 million more.
Danforth's attitude rankles officials of the National Park Service, who maintain that any development must respect the memorial's National Historic Landmark status.