Roy Wilde has played a small but important role in shaping the city over the years. He has served on the Arnold Planning Commission from its earliest days and his signature is sprinkled throughout the records of just about every construction project in town.
Not one to stay idle, he likes to volunteer his spare time.
“Whenever I see the need for something, if I’ve got the time, and I’m able, I’ll try to volunteer,” Wilde told Patch. “I’m an interested and concerned citizen. I’ve attended more city council meetings than anybody in Arnold. I like to see what’s going on.”
Wilde and others started the city's planning commission from scratch.
“A lot of subdivisions were built in the early days," he said. "Homes had carports, then two-car garages, and now three-car garages are very dominant. But very few new roads were built to handle the traffic.”
He complained that a connector road was never built between Highway 141 and Telegraph Road to handle the city’s growing population. But traffic wasn’t always a concern. Wilde remembers being able to ride his bike down Old Highway 141 as a youngster.
“Oh, I tell you, traffic here has changed," he said. "I used to ride my bicycle up to the store to get a loaf of bread on Old 141. There was a hill, and at the bottom were these dogs. I’d get my bicycle going as fast as it could go so they couldn’t catch me! Today, if you try to ride a bicycle, it’s not just the dogs. You’ve got to watch out for everyone. It’s a totally different world.”
He said the most troublesome project for the planning commission was The Arnold Triangle, which was built in 2005. The 38-acre development, which now is home to Dierbergs, Lowes and many other retailers, also stirred up concerns about the use of eminate domain and required the relocation of the town’s VFW Hall.
Wilde was asked to join the commission by Arnold’s first mayor, Ferd B. Lang. Like the mayor, a little piece of Arnold was named after him — the Roy Wilde Conference Room inside the Fox Service Center. Wilde jokes that he can’t take credit for the whole building, which rests on the location of his childhood home.
“The boundary lines for the Wilde farm would be at one end where Lion’s Choice is and you take a line straight back to the Meramec River," he said. "Then you continue along Old Lemay Ferry at Jeffco, through the top of the hill where Londell Road starts and from there take another line back to the Meramec.”
The Fox District could well have been the Wilde District, if not for the fact that Roy Wilde’s grandfather divided his 115-acre farm between his two sons, George and John, at Tenbrook Road. Roy’s uncle John sold his half of the farm to Charlie Fox. In 1948 Fox sold a piece of land to a newly formed school district forming that replaced five outdated one-room school houses scattered around the community. The school was named Fox.