Como Park parking

Como Regional Park Transportation Implementation Plan

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.

Como Park Flower shows Orchids Photos

Orchid Show at Como Park 2010

Every year during winter carnival the Orchid Society of Minnesota hosts an orchid show at the Como Park Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. I posted 50 orchid photos on my Picasa web albums site. Click on the slidshow to access “full screen” viewing options.

Como Park Swimming Pool

Como Park Pool financing update

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.

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“.

Como Park Swimming Pool

Saint Paul Parks Commission accepts Como pool plan

Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Commission approves Como Park pool design from Art Oglesby on Vimeo.

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.

Como Park Swimming Pool

Will the Como Park swimming pool survive the budget cuts?

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.

Click on photos to see full screen

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.

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.
Como Park Conservatory Environment

Ash trees in danger

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 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)

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.

Como Park Swimming Pool

Final Como pool design approved by task force

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).

Como Pool site plan
Como Pool site plan

Pool elements

The individual pool layouts, splash/wading pool, multi-use pool, lazy river+, were next shown by USAquatics / AKA consultants.

Deep Water
Deep Water
Pools & Lazy River
Pools & Lazy River
Shallow Water
Shallow Water

Buildings designs

Architectural renderings of the buildings and detailed floor plans were presented by USAquatics / AKA consultants.

Como Pool building
Como Pool building
floor plan
floor plan

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.

Expenditure projections
Expenditure projections
Component Costs
Component Costs
Bather loads
Bather loads
Pool revenue

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.

Bonsai Como Park Conservatory Meetings Shuttle bus

Como Park Shuttle meeting June 4

Mike Hahm talks about the upcoming Como Park shuttle service and promotes attending the June 4 meeting (7 – 8:30, Street Car Museum) to discuss traffic, parking, and strategies to make the new shuttle service a success.

Como Park Meetings

Como Park Master Plan

Como Park Master Plan
Don Ganje explained the Como Park Master Plan at a District 10 Community Council open house meeting held Mar. 30, 2009 at the Street Car Museum. The best way to view videos is to choose “HQ” full screen.

Read the Como Park Master Plan
To view full screen, double click and choose “slide show”

Como Park Meetings Shuttle bus

Como Park swimming pool design

The Como Park swimming pool replacement design process began with the the formation of a design task force made up of community members, city staff and external aquatic consultants.

The process to design a replacement for the Como Park swimming pool began Oct., 2008.

The design task force members brainstormed and voted on key concepts.

Project manager Don Ganje presented design concepts his team thought the group was asking for (4 pg PDF). The committee was told to voice their opinion, yes or no, as they went through these lists.

A 2 day design “charrette” was open for community input. Five design concepts were presented on day one. Based upon feedback and comments, two design concepts and 6 pool features were voted on during the second day.

Parking and traffic circulation was also addressed (Don Ganje presentation in video below).

Consultants from US Aquatics, Anthony Kell Architects, City Parks Design Staff, Lynn Waldorf, and others collaborated to come up with a draft schematic design which was presented at the March 26 meeting (video below). After comments the design was approved for further detailing.