Minutes - 03/2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 4:35 PM


District 10 Neighborhood Relations Committee Meeting
Street Car Station
1224 Lexington Pkwy
Saint Paul, MN 55103
March 11, 2010
7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Meeting Minutes
Meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.
Present:          Chris Martineau, Christopher Thurn, Will Jedlicka, Brianna Warner, Michelle Furrur, Paul Kolas, Nate Johnson, Chris Harkness, Dennis O’Rourke, Sally Worku, John Knox, Marsha Milgrom, Pete Bolstad, Tim Dickinson.
  1. The purpose of tonight’s meeting was to gather neighborhood input on perceived noise issues stemming from operations within and around Como Park. At the beginning, it was made clear that no commitments would be obtained on implementing any changes. This was simply an idea gathering meeting. We began by trying to identity some of the sources from the noises. Group identified primarily 3 main sources of the noise 1) kids/rides (roller coaster - mechanical but primarily screaming noise constantly on a busy day); 2) audio enhancers (speakers, music, ride attendant); and 3) vehicle operation (garbage pickup). Next we attempted to identify some possible solutions. 
  2. Some neighbors commented that the cumulative impact (noise + traffic) has made the neighborhood less livable. Others commented on the expansion in the Park being double digit in the last few years, with additional plans underway, to expand exhibits. It was discussed that when Como Town took over the operations of the amusement park, the coaster had been moved away from the Primate building because it disturbed the primates. Neighbors responded that by moving it to its current location, a different set of primates has been affected. 
  3. Marsha expressed that with more frequent attendance to the attractive Como Town, screaming from children has become almost constant from the time the park opens until the time it closes on the weekends. One of the neighbors then asked if it was true that the coaster may be replaced. The Como Town reps, Will and Brianna, could neither confirm nor deny the question. Instead, they informed that every year Como Town reviews its rides and determines if it is cost feasible to replace the ride. No decision has been made as of yet. If the coaster would be replaced, neighbors asked that Como Town take into consideration the noise it will create. It was explained that if the coaster would be replaced, it would have to be with a ride that could attract riders and prove profitable.
  4. It was further discussed that some D10 residents did not feel that noise is an issue, that folks moved next to a park and that it is part of the whole experience. Paul made the point that we could check with the city ordinances on the decibel levels at certain times of day and whether the park has complied. Michelle informed that based on some noise complaints last year, DSI - Department of Safety and Inspection came and tested at various times of the day, concluding that the park was in compliance. It was thereafter suggested that perhaps the testing should be annual.
  5. With respect to the noise from the kids/rides, Nathan from the City of Saint Paul, informed that trees alone would not be able to reduce noise levels. That said, around Arbor Day, with the aid of volunteers, the City’s Natural Resources department will be replanting native plant species on the corner of Midway Parkway and Hamline Avenue. Trees will consist of various native species, but will not be pines. There will also be natural shrubs, etc. to help fill in the areas were buckthorn was removed. The trees used will not be large canopy trees, but rather trees of medium height. 
  6. Sally also asked about adding some vegetation (raspberry, rose, thorny bushes) on the block that spans from Midway to Como Ave, along Hamline Avenue. There is a natural ridge there now, with several paths being cut into it from pedestrian traffic off of Hamline. The concern is that with continued paths being cut into the ridge, there will be a progression of erosion. By placing the thorny vegetation and allowing for a couple of natural entrances into the park from Hamline, the impact of pedestrian traffic over the ridge can be minimized. 
  7. We next discussed the audio enhancers. Neighbors expressed concern over the fact that the music starts really early in the mornings. Also, there were certain rides that all day long folks could hear the instructions being given.   Other discussion was over other areas of the park concerning rentals and the decibel of noise. It was suggested that perhaps a decibel reader be passed out so folks could be informed of the proper level, and know if they are exceeding it. 
  8. Suggestions were made to change the directions of the speakers, restrict the hours of the music in the morning and evenings, and turn down some of the volume. Although these topics were discussed, it was not confirmed what changes will occur. Brianna informed that she is the operation manager at Como Town and she ultimately is in control of the music, thus, she could assert rules of the radio etc. 
  9. Lastly, with respect to the truck used for picking up the garbage (Pac Man), it was suggested that it be determined if there was a more fuel efficient, more quiet motor that could be used in the truck. Something like what the shuttle buses have in them. Neighbors have expressed concern over the hours of operation of the trash truck and the amount of noise it makes in the mornings. It starts somewhere around 6:00 a.m. One suggestion was to have the truck start its pickup on hour later to see if that helps with things.
  10. We discussed the next step for the issue. Armed with the suggestions, it appeared that the Park and Como Town were going to look into implementing some of the changes. In an attempt to gather more neighborhood input, the committee decided that it may be helpful for the committee and the Park to find out what, if anything, folks perceived as noise problems coming from the park. To do that, we decided to have a flyer go out to the neighborhoods sounding the park. We will do that as soon as possible so to get neighbors input from last year’s issues. The results will be provided to Michelle to pass along to Como Town and others. The survey will also be put on the website. Chris will also talk with communications committee to learn on how to best have an issues box under neighborhood relations or park issues. The neighborhood relations chair will then bring those issues to the parks attention via the committee. In June, we will repeat the survey to see if neighbors noticed any improvements.
  11. Betsy talked about the need to have a real conversation about all the plans como park has, i.e., Como Park Master plan. This was brought up as a future topic for the committee. Her purpose in bringing up the topic was to understand the Como Park Master Plan and its relationship to what happens in the park.  Master plans are created to fulfill requirements set up by the Metropolitan Council.  Michelle Furrer stated there is more than one master plan for the Como Park area.  A neighbor scanned the plan from last years meeting and put it up on his website located at http://picasaweb.google.com/artifactor/Comoparkmasterplanweb.  It was suggested that committee members familiarize themselves with these documents before the meeting. Sally further would like to have a discussion about the conclusions from the vendor study that was done this past summer. She has suggested that we take the open ended comments received through the study and have a discussion about" service opportunities/ improvements" neighbors would like to see considered for Como Regional Park.  
  12. Marsha asked for funding information concerning the park and legacy funds, etc. Michelle informed that she would get that information to Chris for distribution.

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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