Les Sterman Retiring After 26 Years as Director of Region's Chief Planning Body


Sterman outside his downtown office in 2007. - PHOTO: JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Photo: Jennifer Silverberg
  • Sterman outside his downtown office in 2007.
Les Sterman, executive director of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, announced to his board yesterday that he is retiring from his position.

Sterman, 60, has headed the East-West Gateway for the past 26 years and worked for the planning agency for 31 years.

East-West Gateway serves as the metro planning organization for the bi-state area, dispersing federal funds for transportation and Homeland Security projects. It's once-a-month meetings are the only times that muncipal leaders such as St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley meet to discuss regional development.

Sterman will step down from East-West Gateway next month when he plans to take a position as construction supervisor with the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District -- a massive governmental program to rebuild and improve Metro East levees.

It could be argued that East-West Gateway's biggest accomplish under Sterman was pushing for a light-rail line connecting Missouri to Illinois and later helping to negotiate the southwestern expansion of MetroLink. The agency also provided research into quality of life issues, including regional air quality and tax-increment financing -- which East-West Gateway found to benefit local communities at the cost of other local municipalities.

Sterman plans to continue in a smaller role with East-West Gateway following his retirement, working with the agency's Great Streets Initiative that advocates pedestrian-friendly urban thoroughfares.

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