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Great River Park Planning Keeps Rolling

Community Visioning Meeting Coming Up
Business Association Survey on Great River Park


Great River Park Planning Keeps Rolling | 3.11 [IMAGE]

by JERRY ROTHSTEIN

Every other month, the West Seventh Business Association holds a general meeting for networking and communication among members and potential members, and for presentations from key sources in government, business and community that touch on the interests and issues important to West End development.

The January meeting offered an especially important presentation by Bruce Chamberlain, landscape architect and part of the consulting team working on the Great River Planning process. After last year’s public meeting, planning charrettes and community feedback, the GRP planners have an initial take on the complex issues around possibilities for the 17 miles of the Mississippi River running through St. Paul.

Bruce reiterated the original overarching concept that the relationship between the city and the river involves a natural, urban and connected set of values.

Some of the major ideas that have emerged from the process include:
  • Development of Watergate Marina into a multiuse activity center with a nature center; canoe, bike and ski rentals; restaurant and public washrooms.
  • Interlinking parks and recreation areas along the corridor with appropriate habitat enhancements such as water trails, opportunities for environmental learning and adventure sports.
  • Recreating Shepard Road as a parkway. This fits with the long-standing plans for a Grand Rounds in St. Paul that would allow the circumnavigation of the city at a pace that allows true appreciation of its natural values. The parkway would have a 35 mph speed limit; narrow shoulders; bike lanes; streetscaping and removal of the guardrail, with safe pedestrian and bike crossings at intersections with signals (perhaps Davern, Rankin, Homer, Elway, Otto and Randolph for example) and river access via strategic river-connecting streets.
  • River trails on both shores with a possible crossing for pedestrians and bikers.
  • Strong river-oriented neighborhoods that would take advantage of all these developments.
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Next steps for the planners are drafting the Master Plan and implementation strategy, which will be presented at a public meeting for preliminary review in April, followed by a final report in June.

Public feedback is still welcome and can be provided at the Great River Park website, greatriverpark.org.

Photos:
(left) Island Station is an important part of Great River planning. At present, the National Park Service is studying the possibility of using it for a regional headquarters and interpretive center. (above) GRP presentation by Bruce Chamberlain.

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Community Visioning Meeting Coming Up | 3.11
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by JERRY ROTHSTEIN

On Wednesday, March 9, the “second annual” community discussion about what kind of community we want to create over the next ten years, will be held at the West Seventh Community Center starting at 6:30 p.m.

The current District 9 Area Plan defined these important categories:
  • Housing
  • Jobs and economic development
  • Community development
  • Land use mix
  • Historic preservation and aesthetics
  • Environmental quality
  • Transportation and circulation
An ad hoc planning group for the community visioning session identified many key words:
  • Jobs
  • Business development
  • Aesthetics
  • Design
  • Business
  • Historic integrity
  • Retirement
  • Whence excitement and energy
  • Showcase
  • Dynamic change
  • Will to act
  • Publish information
  • Reinventing wheel
  • Identity
  • Branding
  • Coordination of information
  • Continuing collaboration among West Seventh organizations and programs
In an effort to find a way to organize these ideas, Kent Petterson suggested four primary categories under which the other ideas can be placed:
  • Thrust
  • Communication
  • Quality
  • Economic
The planning group has come up with a few proposals to guide the evening’s discussions, but mostly it is an opportunity to speak and hear the ideas and issues important to the West End.

Reserve the date on your calendar: March 9, 2011, 6:30 p.m. at the West Seventh Community Center.

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Business Association Survey on Great River Park
| 3.11

by KENT PETTERSON

In early January, the West Seventh Business Association (BA) surveyed association members and neighbors about key questions raised in relation to the city’s Great River Park Master Plan (GRP). The survey was posted by Michelle Boone of deZinnia Inc. and prepared by Kent Petterson and members of the BA board and the West Seventh Enhancement Coalition. Responses were received from 22 members (about 1/3) of the BA and 74 community members, for a total of 96 responses.

To test for general knowledge of the GRP effort, we asked if respondents had been following recent news about the plan and 72% said yes, either in the newspapers, meetings or on the website greatriverpark.org.

Nearly 85% requested the BA board to take positions on business interest issues presented by the GRP effort.

To the question, would a Mississippi River Corridor that attracts more people through the neighborhood to the river, especially on foot or by bike, have a positive impact on your business, seven in ten said yes.

When asked, would you have an interest in exploring business opportunities in the river corridor, 40% of 74 who answered this question said they would.

When asked if they favored the proposed four soccer fields at Victoria Park, 59 percent said yes. But the question drew the largest number of specific comments, most of which were negative.

Ninety-five people responded to the statement, “It has been proposed that Shepard Road should be modified to be more like a parkway with traffic calming changes to encourage slower driving, better controlled intersections and a slower speed limit in the range of 35 or 40 mph. Do you favor these types of changes?” More than two-thirds of respondents said yes, drawing the second highest number of specific responses and showing a high recognition of the dangers at Shepard for people trying to get to the river.
Eighty percent of those who responded said they favored separation of car traffic from pedestrians and bikers at Shepard Road via a tunnel or bridge. This is a high number given the previous question, but many explained that they thought calming methods should be tried first to mitigate cost prior to expensive building projects providing safer crossing.

A test of interest in changing West Seventh to a two-lane street was opposed by two-thirds of the respondents. The question appeared to mislead some people, who were not sure if it were two or four lanes currently.

The final question was, “Do you support the Great River Park initiative to improve/complete access to the river?” An overwhelming 88 out of 92 responses, or 96% of businesses and neighbors, supported the effort to encourage the addition of amenities for river users and protect the natural character of the river.


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