Neighbors Express Mixed Feelings About McMurray Field Plans
Thursday, December 24, 2015 9:40 AM

mcmurray_concept-hires.jpg
Residents participating in a District 10 survey generally seem willing to go along with changes the park district is proposing for the McMurray Field area of Como Park. However, many also fear the changes will negatively impact the surrounding streets, intersections, and neighborhood.
More than 90 neighborhood residents completed the survey online, after the park district unveiled its latest design during a Dec. 15 open house. More than 45 people viewed designs and talked with project leaders during that open house.
District 10 conducted the survey to gather the opinions of residents who could not attend the open house, or who had further thoughts after seeing the latest designs for what the park district calls the Como Regional Park Transportation Improvement Plan.
District 10 has shared the full survey results – including residents’ comments and suggestions – with project designers.
 
What the plan would do
Under the most recent design (download the image for more details), the park district proposes:
  • Closing the intersection of Lexington Parkway and Jessamine Ave.
  • Reconfiguring Wynne Ave. between Lexington and Beulah Lane
  • Adding a 16-foot-wide feeder road that parallels Lexington from Wynne to Jessamine
  • Reconfiguring diagonal and parallel parking along Jessamine, Beulah, and Wynne
  • Adding a 77-car parking lot south of the existing pool lots
  • If negotiations are successful, adding an additional 150-car parking lot on railroad right-of-way south of Jessamine
  • Adding walking and bicycling trails in the area
  • Reducing the number of softball fields from five to three
  • Increasing participant and spectator access to the athletic fields
You can find full conceptual drawings and other information on the project website.
Based on design concepts, the project reduces parking in the area from 529 spots to 506 spots -- if the railroad right-of-way lot is not built. As designed, the project would reduce green space in the area by about half-an-acre.
Construction is expected to begin in July 2016.
 
Neighbors wrestle with the good and the bad
Among respondents to the District 10 survey, the biggest support is for better sidewalks and crosswalks, improving spectator and participant access to the fields, putting parking along the railroad right-of-way, and the possibility of adding concessions and restrooms between the pool and athletic fields.
The biggest opposition is to the loss of green space.
However, in comments and in response to specific questions, pluralities of survey respondents worry that the changes in traffic flow and parking within the park itself will create more congestion at the intersections of Lexington and Wynne, of Lexington and Como/Horton, and of Como and Hamline. They also worry that it will make traffic worse and reduce safety along Como Ave. north of the pool.
As some of the comments spell out, these traffic concerns are part of larger, ongoing issues. These lingering tensions include how the park district addresses the needs of visitors vs. the lives of nearby residents, and how planning can get visitors to and through the park in ways other than by private automobile.
Some survey comments reflect the ambivalence of District 10 residents. “A decent design,” one resident wrote before adding, “understanding, in general, the more ‘free’ parking you add results in more traffic. “
Another resident wrote: “It seems like Parks wants to add one more major attraction to Como Park. I understand this is a regional park that is maintained for the entire city. But people live in this neighborhood. I don't think Parks really grasps that concept.”

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

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