After 22 years (1996) we moved into a Sr. Co-op in New Brighton.
Do you want to learn what is happening in the Como Park neighborhood, but you don’t have time to go to lots of meetings? Do you want to connect with your neighbors, other parents, local small businesses? Check out and join our online Como Park Neighbors forum. This friendly forum is a place for neighbors who are passionate about Como Park to share information, discuss local issues, find solutions, and build a sense of community.
To join you will need to give your real name, where you live, and your e-mail address (which will remain hidden) and to agree to the rules(real names, civil comments, and that topics relate to the Como Park area). Because most people choose to receive posts in their e-mail box, we have a two comments per day limit.
Como Park Traffic & Parking
Como Park now attracts more than 3 million visitors per year. Originally designed as “an outdoor haven for the area’s urban population”, Como Park visitors often are frustrated by full parking lots and and traffic congestion.
Como Regional Park Transportation Implementation Plan
A plan is needed that will address long and short term transportation and parking needs of Como Regional Park, while also balancing the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods. A group known as Project Advisory Committee (PAC) has been formed to provide input and guidance that is representative of the various groups sitting on the committee, but that also works toward collaborative solutions that balance the interests of the park with the interests of the surrounding neighborhoods. The PAC will play a key role in project decision-making by providing input and guidance throughout the project process.
A number of considerations will be taken into account including the current park master plan, surrounding neighborhoods, historic elements of the park, preservation of green space, and planned park improvements. The result of this project will be a Como Regional Park Transportation Implementation Plan (TIP) that will be used in planning future transportation improvements for the park.
Project Advisory Committee
PAC members are listed below. Michelle Furrer, City of St. Paul, will serve as the primary point of contact for the PAC. Mike Foertsch of Kimley-Horn will serve as the primary point of contact for the consultant team.
- Michelle Furrer – City of St. Paul, Director/Campus Manager, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory (Committee Chair)
- Glenn Baron – Lancer-Como Town
- Triesta Brown – District 6 Neighborhood Council
- Karen Clark – St. Paul Parks and Recreation, Operations
- Don Ganje – St. Paul Parks and Recreation
- Steve Grans – Minnesota State Fair
- Samantha Henningson – St. Paul Ward 4
- Annie Johnson – St. Paul Ward 5 (alternate)
- Karin Misiewizc – St. Paul Parks and Recreation, Maintenance
- Bryan Murphy – St. Paul Parks and Recreation, Landscape Architecture
- Dennis O’Rourke – District 10 Neighborhood Council
- Ann Olson – St. Paul Ward 5
- Paul Prior – St. Paul Park and Recreation
- Jackie Sticha – Como Friends
- Elizabeth Stiffler – St. Paul Public Works
- Mary Wawro – District 6 Neighborhood Council (alternate)
- Sally Worku – District 10 Neighborhood Council (alternate)
Public meeting to inform and request input
A public meeting was held Aug 12 to provide an
- update on project progress
- present preliminary recommendations/options
- receive input on recommendations/options
Your input and feedback will be used to create a comprehensive package of final recommendations and complete the phasing/staging of the project. Video coverage of the Presentation are below. Double clicking on the video will open a new window with options for full-screen high definition viewing.
Video I – Introducion
Video II – Presentation
Video III – Overview
How to provide ideas about Como Park traffic and parking
Your can TAKE A SURVEY ON YOUR THOUGHTS OF THE CONCEPTS – Open through August 27, 2010. (Clicking on the link in blue will take you to an on line survey)
Summary of Recomendations
- Reduce or eliminate intersection conflicts and congestion at the Lexington Parkway/Horton
- Avenue, Horton Avenue/Midway Parkway, and Hamline Avenue/Midway Parkway intersections.
- Provide a convenient designated visitor and shuttle loading/unloading location.
- Provide a convenient designated bus loading/unloading and parking location.
- Distribute traffic on the roadways in and around the park by providing more than one option to
- access an area.
- Provide additional parking spaces within a 5-minute walk radius of the Zoo/Conservatory/Como
- Town to meet the parking demand during the Average Summer Peak.
- Implement paid parking in the most heavily used parking areas, with free parking at the shuttle
- lot and other less-used parking areas
- Provide parking information to visitors to reduce vehicles circulating to find parking
- Purchase or construct a permanent shuttle lot with a capacity of approximately 500 parking
- spaces located within 2 miles of the Park.
- Convert the current shuttle into a circulator to serve the busiest areas of the Park.
- Provide shelters at the Metro Transit bus stops
- Provide shelters and information kiosks at the Como Shuttle stops
- Provide convenient and safe pedestrian/bicycle facilities between bus/shuttle stops, the
- sidewalk/trail system, and the major attractions of the Park
- Provide improved north/south and east/west bicycle and pedestrian facilities through the Park
- Provide a safer pedestrian/bicycle crossing of Lexington Parkway between the lake and golf course
- Provide an additional pedestrian/bicycle crossing of the BNSF tracks
- Provide wayfinding and parking information for vehicles and pedestrians for all major areas of the Park
- Direct visitors to the park via multiple routes to distribute traffic among various routes
Go to the Saint Paul CRPTIP webpage for more information and downloads
The City of Saint Paul website has a page full of information about the Como Regional Park Transportation Implementation Plan (click to view). There is also a Project Advisory Committee webpage with links to minutes and data from each of their meetings.
This trifold was endorsed by the People of the Como Community Council on Nov 19, 1996.
It is formatted for printing on 8.5 X 11 paper. I will work on typing it as a text file. I hope this position from 13 years ago will not get lost.
Clicking on the pictures will make them larger. Typed version follows (thanks Sally)
Como Park on Como Park
(A Position Paper adopted by District 10 Council in 1996)
HOLISTIC TREATMENT OF COMO PARK
The Como Community Council values responsible stewardship of Como Park. The park’s development, operation and maintenance must be placed within a holistic framework that embraces:
*Balancing preservation with development and use, and
*Ensuring fiscal responsibility
Even though it is demanding, these aspects must be periodically and jointly reviewed to protect and enhance the Como Park experience.
Balancing Preservation With Development and Use
Como Park’s character reflects a valuable part of the urban culture that cannot be easily duplicated today. It provides a unique turn-of-the century landscaped park experience to be shared by all who seek respite from the urban and built environment. As a result, Como Park must be treated differently than today’s new metropolitan developed parks. Initially, there must be an understanding of what natural and historic features are significant in the park. Such features must be documented, and a public policy must be developed to guide the treatment of these important aspects of the park, and capital monies identified to carry out preservation treatment.
Como Park is the smallest and yet second most used regional park in the state of Minnesota, attracting approximately two-million visitors each year to its 450 acres.
In creating responsible stewardship for Como Park, it is necessary to build a public opinion for what the park is capable of producing and sustaining from a natural, recreational, historical, and economic perspective. Development of the park’s potential should not be focused only on the most prominent features – Zoo, Conservatory, and Lake Como – but should look beyond these popular attractions to encourage visitors to experience a l l the park’s amenities.
Ensuring Fiscal Responsibility
Responsible stewardship cannot be accomplished without careful discussion and planning pertaining to fiscal prudence. Through out the evolution of the park, no other aspect has had a greater influence on the park than the allocation of economic resources. The impact the workhouse had with providing near-free labor around the turn-of the-century, and the significant resources allotted during the Works Projects Administration era have significantly shaped the Como Park experience. The role that the Metropolitan Council plays today, with the establishment of Como as a regional park, has tremendous influence on park planning. Such an institution has the capacity to affect how the park will be treated, perhaps more forcefully than any individual. Securing such funds is critical, but they should not drive the planning process away from the commitment to responsible stewardship.
Of particular concern is the desire by some agencies to undertake new capital intensive projects. While development of the park is one function, its effect must be balanced with the rehabilitation of the existing resource. Special consideration must also be made for daily operation and maintenance needs. As well, it is the community’s desire to have Como Park remain accessible for all people, without causing undue burden to the taxpayers of Saint Paul during the present conservative fiscal climate. For these reasons the fiscal health of the park must be ascertained, and capital intensive projects must be referenced with operational and maintenance funds that have dollars committed before planning is approved.
Responsible stewardship means that there is a delicate balance that must be struck in treating Como Park. By incorporating these values and needs the Como Park experience will be enhance today, and for future generations to come.
This position is an outcome of more than two years of meetings and discussions with community members and service agencies. The community will continue to advocate for these concerns and develop more detailed positions on the park, out of concern for sustaining a quality park experience for the City as a whole, and for all of Como Park’s users.
What is happening with the Como Pool project?
Capital Improvement Bonds
Funding for the Como Park Pool was not a priority within the 2009 Capital Improvement Bond (CIB) recommendations. The link below to a 3 page PDF shows the “Como Pool Replacement” falling just below the red cutoff line on page 2. http://mn-stpaul.civicplus.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=9229
Budget Review Committee
At the Budget Review Committee meeting held Aug 26, City Council President, Kathy Lantry, requested clarification about the $1 million “Como Aquatics – Phase 1” line item in the proposed City of Saint Paul Budget. You can watch the 4 minute discussion on video via the Budget Review Committee web page.
The video is 1 hour 40 minutes. If you use the link below and click on number 5 (last one) it skips ahead and the discussion about the Como Pool item starts at 1:25:43
Margaret Kelly, Director of the Office of Financial Services was the person who answered most questions about the budget.
Apparently, the $1 million is for bathrooms and changing facilities to support both the future pool and to support McMurry field activities. $640K comes from Parks Fund Balance and $360K comes from ISP Interest. The remaining $4 million funding will be requested in the 2012 and 2013 CIB budget requests.
Kathy Lantry also pushed for public meetings allowing public input on hot issues “the sooner the better“.
Don Ganje presented the Como Park swimming pool design passed by the design task force to the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Commission, July 15, 2009. They voted to pass the plan on to the mayor.
Future fate of Como Park swimming pool is on Parks Commission agenda.
The Como pool planning committee approved for final report preparation the refined schematic design that was presented Monday, April 20.
A detailed report (140 pages) was released last week. You can download it by clicking this link (warning, this is a 17.4 MB PDF report on the “Como Park Regional Pool Replacement”) It might take 10 minutes or more to download.
This report now goes to the Parks & Recreation Commission who will meet July 15 at 6:30 pm. at Hazel Park. I believe citizens will be allowed 3 minutes to voice opinions about the Como Park pool replacement plan.
The Parks & Recreation Commission then makes a recommendation to the Mayor of Saint Paul. The Mayor looks at it and judges whether it meets the Park’s Master Plan guidelines. The Mayor then sends the plan to the Saint Paul City Council who has the funding authority to pay for the project.
Where is the money coming from for the Como pool?
Money to pay for the Como Park pool replacement was to come from C.I.B. funds. My understanding is that Capital Improvement Budget funding is borrowed money. Bonds are sold to raise this money, then must be paid back from taxation.
Starting in early 2009, the CIB Committee began the process of developing the 2010 and 2011 capital budgets by reviewing project proposals submitted by City departments, district councils, and neighborhood organizations.
The CIB committee recommendation was to limit borrowing to about $20 million. Their rankings and how they were ranked is explained on the City of Saint Paul web site.
- Community Facilities Task Force Final Rankings
- Streets and Utilities Task Force Final Rankings
- Residential and Economic Development Task Force Final Rankings
Did the Como Pool Replacement make the cut?
According to a PDF download titled “2010 – 2011 CIB Tentative Recommendations.pdf” on a District 10 webpage Como Pool Replacement was not included for funding
I think this complicated process is only to provide advice. I believe Mayor Coleman can choose to propose a budget differing from the CIB committee’s recommendations. Will he? That step is scheduled for Aug 5 or 12?
N.O.P.E. – (Neighbors Opposing Park Exploitation)
Several Como Park residents, including the two members on the Pool Design Task Force who voted “No” to the proposed plan, feel that the public needs to know what is being proposed and have the opportunity and the time to react. These quotes are from some e-mails:
*It appears that mega-development is being pushed with no direct public input opportunity to react to these plans.
*The Task Force process was flawed . . . No discussion was made of other sites and their merits (or lack thereof) . . . Como Park is featured out, struggling to deal with the features that already exist.
*Important questions related to the pool design remain unanswered. Chief among them are:
- What is the impact on the overall park?
- What is the impact on traffic in and around the park?
- What happens if the future phases are delayed or not completed at all – what is the risk (to the park/neighborhood) associated with delays or denials?
- Were other sites within the city considered – why Como Park?
- In effect, can the park accommodate the increased traffic assoicated with the additional bathers who will use the new pool?
*I think it is VITAL that those interested in Como Park, the comoparkalliance etc. consider finding ways to:
- have a more public process for developing an updated 2009 Park Master Plan.
- have a presentation of projected plans in the Campus area for the next 5-10 yrs. so those plans may be integrated with the overall park plans.
- find a way, as the Dist 10 Environment Committee did with the lake, for Como Park or at least the Parkland to be given an able steward.
Will ash trees follow the fate of elm trees?
About 30 years ago my neighbor’s kid won a college scholarship for his sketch of the dead elm trees in front of my house marked with big red X’s. Now I fear for the the giant ash trees across the street in Como Park.
Apparently the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) has been damaging our ash trees for years. The EAB were officially discovered in St. Paul’s Hampdem Park mid May, 2009.
Minnesota has the second highest number of ash trees in the nation after Maine. Many of them were planted to replace trees lost to Dutch elm disease a generation ago.
Where can I find information about the emerald ash borer?
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) website has excellent information. Another, multinational website with the lastest information about EAB is emeraldashborer.info. I also recommend the University of Minnesota Extension website page which answers questions about ash trees and emerald ash borer beetles.
Frequently asked questions are below (click on them to get answers)
- Emerald ash borer fact sheet — University of Minnesota Extension
- Information for homeowners — Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Big trouble for ash trees — Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Insecticide options summary (shorter version of above) (128 K PDF) — University of Minnesota Extension
- Strategies for managing emerald ash borer introductions — Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Preparing for emerald ash borer (50 K PDF) — Minnesota Emerald Ash Borer Science Advisory Group
- Minnesota emerald ash borer response plan (176 K PDF) — Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Do I have emerald ash borer? (246 K PDF) — University of Minnesota Extension
- Insects in Minnesota that may be confused with emerald ash borer — University of Minnesota Extension
- Signs and symptoms of emerald ash borer (5 MB PDF) — Michigan State University
- Recognizing insect galleries in ash trees (3 MB PDF) — Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Ash tree identification (8 MB PDF) — Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Map showing locations of the trees in St. Paul found positive for EAB
What is Saint Paul doing for its ash trees?
Park director Mike Hahm says Parks and Recreation will do everything we can to protect our tree canopy. Saint Paul has been preparing for this for some time. For over 5 years, we have been increasing the diversity of the tree species in Saint Paul and have not replaced or replanted Ash trees. A Pioneer Press article titled Protecting ash trees could cost St. Paul $2.8 million annually explains:
“Hahm plans to start a campaign of removing affected ash trees at a rate of 3,000 a year and replacing them with other trees the following spring. In St. Paul’s St. Anthony neighborhood, 67 trees already have been cut down. Hahm said he plans to apply immediately for nearly $2.8 million in state and federal money to fight the infestation.”
This link will take you to the St Paul website page on emerald ash borer info.
The Como Pool design task force voted to approve for final report preparation the refined schematic design that was presented Monday, April 20.
Overall site relationships
Project manager, Don Ganje, first discussed the overall site, the proposed street realignments, access, parking, trails, facility location with relation to Como Woodland, etc. Click on the thumbnail photos to see them larger. A high quality (HQ) version of the video is available by double clicking on the video to go to the You Tube site, then click the “HQ” and full screen icons (lower right corner).
The individual pool layouts, splash/wading pool, multi-use pool, lazy river+, were next shown by USAquatics / AKA consultants.
Architectural renderings of the buildings and detailed floor plans were presented by USAquatics / AKA consultants.
Costs (broken down by elements) and bather loads, attendance, and income projections
Click on photos to see projected costs. The consultants also projected expenditures broken down for each component. The last photos show staff recommended bather loads and projected revenues. The video is of the consultants walk though of the projected costs broken down for each area.
Questions and comments
Please use the comments area to ask questions or to voice your opinions. I will pass them on to the design team.