Minutes - 3/2007, Joint Environment and Land Use Committee Meeting
Thursday, March 01, 2007 12:55 PM
District 10 Joint Environment and Land Use Committee Meeting
Como Streetcar Station
Thursday, March 22, 2007
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Attendees: David Arbeit (District 10 Environment Committee), Nathan Volz (District 10 Land Use Co-chair), SPPD Commander Gregory Pye, Sue McCall (District 10 Organizer), Bev Bybee(District 6 Land Use Committee), Paul Kammueller (District 6 Land Use Committee), Sharon Shinomiya (District 10 resident), Chet Mirocha (District 10 Environment Committee), Katie Plese (District 10 Environment Committee), Joan McKearnan (District 10 Environment Committee), Sehoya Cotner (District 10 Environment Committee), Tony Schaps (District 10 Board Member), Brian Tucker (District 10 Land Use Committee), Susan Jane Cheney (District 10 Environment Committee).
Susan Jane Cheney convened the meeting at 7:10 p.m.
Meeting participants introduced themselves.
Susan Jane announced that the agenda would include a discussion of the proposed St. Paul Mounted Patrol horse stable and the District 10 Land Use Plan. She distributed a handout enumerating perceived areas of agreement and disagreement regarding the stable facility (see Addendum) and suggested that a goal of the meeting might be to move items in the latter category into the former.
Katie Plese distributed a list of questions regarding the current stabling situation and proposed facility.
Nathan Volz provided a brief history of the Stable Project, explaining that the idea came out of a Land Use Committee discussion about ways to reduce crime in the area. An unexpected newspaper article prematurely focused public attention on the possibility and accelerated the committee‚s exploration of its feasibility.
Nathan described the proposed facility. Plans call for 8 to 9 stalls, a tack room, quarantine area, and 60 x 30-foot paddock for the horses and an office, male and female police locker rooms and bathrooms, a public area, plus car and trailer parking and storage space exterior to the building. He gave a rough estimate of between 6000 and 10000 square feet for the entire facility. Two estimates based on square footage cost have been obtained. CIB (Capital Improvement Budget) funds are being sought for preliminary construction costs.
David Arbeit asked if a site plan had been done to account for space beyond the building itself. Brian Tucker responded that the plan is preliminary and details will firm up when a design firm is hired. Specific boundaries have not been set nor access and utility requirements explored, though utilities exist for the neighboring Humane Society. The site is presently wooded and partially used for storage by the Parks Maintenance Division.
Six Mounted Patrol horses currently are boarded at Circle C Ranch in Lake Elmo Township, approximately 14 miles from the city limits. The cost of room and board for each horse is $400 per month and does not include tack, veterinarian or farrier expenses. Officers provide much of the horse care, though some off-hour care is necessary. The current yearly budget for the Mounted Patrol budget is $54,000.
Commander Pye stressed the advantages of owning rather than leasing stabling facilities, citing savings on rent, fuel for transporting the horses in and out of town, and „soft cost‰ savings on officers‚ time. A stable built in Como Park would exchange increased police patrols for leased space.
The issue of present crime levels and potential future increase in Como area crime was discussed without consensus.
David pointed out that the Land Use Plan specifies the desirability of increased visibility of police in District 10, not the establishment of a Mounted Patrol stable in the Park.
Susan Jane raised the issue of the no-net-loss-of-parkland in the City Charter. Nathan explained that the status of the land will not change except to „put a roof over it;‰ it is still parkland. David noted that conversion of park property from undeveloped to non-recreational developed status is a net loss, requiring equivalently valued property purchase by the City.
Sehoya Cotner brought up the issue of manure. Greg said that the stable manure removal would be coordinated with the zoo. Patrol manure will be kicked off park paths or into storm drains. The potential detrimental effect on Como Lake water quality was raised.
Alternative sites were discussed:
Tony asked about the Humane Society location in the event that it will move.
Sue McCall noted that industrially-zoned, „clean‰ private land within the city is scarce and expensive.
Other parks raise similar issues to Como.
State Fair sites were discussed.
Katie suggested further investigation into the University Equine Center, which has indicated a willingness to stable the horses. Commander Pye noted that the Police Department had explored this option unsuccessfully but agreed to consider another meeting with the Center staff. Katie offered to help in arranging it.
The meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.
Como Park Horse Stable
Areas of Agreement & Disagreement [prepared by Susan Jane Cheney]:
Areas of agreement:
1. The mounted patrol serves a valuable function in crime prevention and crowd control.
2. It is desirable to stable the mounted patrol horses in the urban core to save on fuel and transit time.
3. The horses‚ welfare is important.
4. Como Regional Park is one of the most heavily used parks in the city ˆ and, in fact, in the state.
Areas of disagreement:
1. It is necessary to lose parkland in order to stable the horses in the city.
2. The St. Paul City Charter‚s no-net-loss-of-parkland provision is an obstacle to get around rather than a meaningful policy.
3. Leasing parkland for this type of facility is not the same as losing it.
4. Areas of Como Park that currently are not developed for specific use are dispensable.
5. Crime in the Como Park area is serious and warrants special attention in the city.
6. The heavy use of Como Park justifies trading parkland for security measures rather than regarding the parkland as extra precious and guarding against its loss.
7. The Como site is the best choice for an urban stable.
8. Alternative sites have been thoroughly explored.
9. Estimated size and cost of the project are accurate and reasonable.
10. The environmental impacts of this project have been adequately addressed.
11. This proposal has received a thorough public airing.
Questions [prepared by Katie Plese]:
1) Where (what facility) are the horses currently stabled at?
2) What is the monthly boarding fee for each horse, and what does this fee include?
3) How many horses are currently in the patrol?
4) How many miles (one way) from St. Paul is the current stable?
5) What is the current yearly budget for the horse patrol, and how is this money spent ˆ break-down of costs?
6) A) What other (if any) costs are incurred for the mounted patrol?
B) Who currently cares for the tack and what is the yearly fee for such care?
7) What specific buildings are being considered for construction, and what is there size?
8) How large of a parking lot would be required for squad cars/trailers, etc.?
9) What entity, person, or organization gave estimates as to construction costs, and how many estimates were obtained?
10) Have any Veterinarians or Animal Humane groups been consulted as to the size of the facility, location, proposed paddock size?
11) How many hours per week, on average, is the mounted patrol actually "on the streets" of St. Paul?
12) A) How many additional staff members are anticipated being hired to care for the horses (feeding, grooming, tack care, etc.) at city owned location and what would the cost be to the city in salaries?
B) Who will be doing manure control? (It was stated at the February 14th Land Use meeting that police interns could do it). If we are concerned about current travel time, why would time spent on manure control be thought a good use of officers‚ time?
13) Who initiated this proposal?
14) Other than saving commuting time/gas from bringing the horses in from the current stable, what is seen as the reason for this proposed change?
15) It has been stated that is the stable is relocated to Como Park, there would be increased patrols in the area, and how would this be done in fairness to other districts with higher rates of crime?
16) The area around the Western District Police facility has a higher crime rate than Como Park, which currently has no police facility. It was stated at the Feb. 14th Land Use meeting that Como Park was chosen because it is safe, the safety of the horses obviously a concern to all. How is Como, which is currently one of the safest areas to live in St. Paul, going to see any significant change other than the loss of parkland?
[Submitted by Susan Jane Cheney]