Minutes - 10/2009 DRAFT
Tuesday, October 13, 2009 3:15 PM

DRAFT

October 8, 2009 Neighborhood Meeting:

Reviewed the September 24, 2009 meeting.  Reviewed that at the next neighborhood relations committee, we will be looking to put a recommendation together for the board to vote on.  This recommendation will be based on Public Works final proposal to permit parking and it will be put to a community vote at the November 2009 District 10 Community Council Meeting during the community section of the meeting.

Discussed a letter that Michelle Furrer received from Tiffany Bauer, Minnesota State Fair.  This letter referenced the fact that it recently learned that the City of Saint Paul may be eliminating public parking adjacent to Como Park and that it may no longer be willing to share its parking lots absent a new agreement where it charges more for parking in its empty lots.  Dennis O’Rouke indicated that he spoke to Jerry Hammer, the fairgrounds general manager, who indicated that with the increased use of the parking lots, not just due to eliminated parking, but also with the increase in use from weekends to during the week, Como Park would be changing the use that the original agreement was formed under.  Michelle mentioned that weekdays were on the table in original discussions with the Fair.

In any case, the State Fair has indicated that it would continue to honor the agreement it had for the remainder of 2009 and 2010.  It was noted that if the city wanted to expand the State Fair parking, there would need to be more negotiations between the city and the fair concerning fees.

Given this, Michelle indicated that Como Park and Parks and Recreation are motivated to find a real parking solution.  There is some money that has been gathered to take all the parking studies and work on some sort of action plan.  There is going to be opportunity for the neighbors to provide input.  However, what that will look like is still up in the air as this issue just recently surfaced.  

The Park will be looking at costs both inside and outside of the parks boundaries.  It will be looking at structures to build, time parking, the shuttle, etc.  Essentially, all options are on the table to find a real, sustainable solution to the parking problems in and around Como Park.  The Park does not want a band aid, it wants a solution.  Neighbors further provided input as to some possible solutions.

As part of this conversation, attendees were also allowed to give their opinion on whether permit parking is wanted or even needed.  There were folks that provided input from both perspectives.

Thereafter, the topic was changed to things going on in the park for 2010.  Michelle indicated that it looks like the first weekend in June 2010, polar bear odyssey will be open.  She also informed that the park is bringing back the Blooming Butterflies exhibit for its 3rd and final year.  Thereafter, there may be the possibility of an aviary exhibit.

Lastly, Will Jedlicka and Brianna Warner from Lancer Corporation came and spoke to the neighbors about the possibility of Como Town adding a splash pad in the area of the hodgepodge area within Como Town itself.  Last year this plan had been kicked around, but shelved due to funds.  Recently, it was brought back to the table and decided to go forward with.  This particular system would have a water circulation system.  The current setup is a bunch of hoses and sprinklers tacked to the wood.  They want to put in the cleaner system and make it fun for the kids.  The area is expected to hold 50 to 100 kids, but it was indicated that comfort of the guest will really dictate the capacity.  Will informed that he did not expect an increase in visitorship within Como Town with the added attraction.  Further, it is designed for younger children, and not the 13-14 year old kids.

A lot of time was spent discussing the process that was going forward for this project.  Chia Insook informed that it was his understanding that before this project can go to the parks commission to vote for approval, there needed to be a public notice.  It was believed that the conversation at the neighborhood relations committee may try and serve as this process.  The project was presented to neighbors in October 2008, prior it to being tabled by Lancer before it went to the Parks Commission at the November 2008 meeting. A water feature attraction is included in the Amusement Park Framework Plan and noted within the Amusement Contract for Lancer/Como Town.  Concern was expressed around the fact that not enough notice was given to the council to properly notify neighbors of proposed changes in Como Town.  It was asked of Lancer to hold off on the parks commissions hearing until next month so neighbors could be informed of the proposed changes and give opportunity to voice their opinions.  

Will and Brianna informed that Como Town still has some construction season available to it and can get contractors to start work on this attraction yet this year.  Como Town could not afford to wait another month or the project will need to be scrapped.  Given that a majority of concern expressed by the attendees appeared to be of the notification of the project and timing to get information out to neighbors, it was proposed by Michelle to proceed with the Parks Commission and then invite Lancer back at the next Community Council Meeting, prior to beginning any work to take in feedback and issues related the project. They are set to go before the parks commission at Northwest Como Rec Center Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.

Will informed that he will come to the October 20, 2009 Community Council meeting to inform neighbors of the project, and to field concerns.  In the mean time, District 10 will send out an email blast informing of the parks commission meeting so folks can attend and hopefully voice concerns.

It was acknowledged that communication between Como Park and District 10 is certainly getting better, but more notice of projects like the hodgepodge need to be sent out earlier so the neighbors can be informed of changes.

 

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

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