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Great River Park Design Team Targets 35mph Parkway for Shepard Road

Community Visioning Encourages New ideas
Cossetta's Vision for West Seventh

Great River Park Design Team Targets 35mph Parkway for Shepard Road | 4.11
Interim Report Presentation at RiverCentre April 14

[IMAGE]by KENT PETERSON
The citizen advisory committee and the Great River Park design team led by Bill Wenk of Wenk and Associates, Denver, met at the Wellstone Center on March 15. The citizen advisory committee received and commented on the broad scope of ideas that will be presented as an interim design team report to the city.

Photo credit: A view of the Upper Levee “flats” (Little Italy) from the High Bridge during high water. Today’s Upper Landing is considerably better protected.

Interested citizens are invited to St. Paul River Centre on April 14, 6:30 p.m. for the Design Team’s presentation. The event is a Public Open House with visual information boards, team presentation and open feedback forums. The Design Team will be seeking input and comment to improve the plans developed in public meetings and in discussions with city officials over recent months. Their final report to the city is due in mid-June 2011.

The report could be ambitious and significant for the future of St. Paul, and the West End in particular. It will consist of proposals to improve safe river valley access, expanded program activities and green spaces, and ideas to foster development along the 17 miles of the river corridor in St. Paul. It will suggest areas of the river valley to be protected and areas to be developed, new and completed access paths to the river, and recreational opportunities in the corridor. Drawings and descriptive information are posted on the project website, greatriverpark.org. The site includes a public section for posting of comments or for e-mailing directly to the design team.

Two of the three key gathering spots in the plan are located in the West End of St. Paul. Watergate Marina at the entrance to Crosby Farm Regional Park and Island Station, along with Harriet Island across the river, were singled out by Bill Wenk as key gathering spots.

Inclusion of Shepard Road as the final major link in the Grand Round parkway is one of their big ideas of connection to the river. Significantly upgraded cross-neighborhood connections for pedestrians and bikers to the river are contemplated at Chestnut, Randolph, Otto, and four “green links” centered around Rankin St. and the Sam Morgan Trail along the Crosby Farm area are contemplated. Even though the two-lane configuration and traffic capacity of Shepard Road will be retained, significant changes in the character of Shepard Road will be proposed. The changes will include better grade crossing control, traffic calming techniques such as planted medians and roadsides, and most significantly for safety a reduction of the speed limit to 35 mph. A cross section detail of the proposed Shepard Road is available on the project website.

The Design Team is proposing that the Island Station building with ties to the Randolph corridor be retained. Local environmental organizations and the National Park Service are seen as potential tenants. Suggested activities for the peninsula park area at Island Station include a marina, an activity park for a rope/skills course, Outward Bound, wall/ice climbing, winter pond hockey and other compatible uses.

At Watergate Marina, an “activities” support building yet to be described is proposed. Walk-in campsites for primitive camping are to be proposed for Crosby Farm. Minimal asphalt parking with improvements to the existing shelter are possible.

The plan currently does not contain any proposals for Victoria Park in the West End other than to designate it as a sport park.

Significant improvements will be proposed along the entire length of the river corridor in St. Paul.

What’s missing or needing to be changed?
You will get a chance to help answer that question on April 14. Some of the possibilities are a pedestrian/bike linking bridge at Walnut from Irvine Park toward the Head House across Shepard Road; input from minorities and young people; or a historical context for these new river developments including discussion of the caves as a huge potential resource. Come and be the judge while adding your input. The plan will be better with your help.

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Community Visioning Encourages New Ideas | 4.11
[IMAGE]
By JERRY ROTHSTEIN

On a night when winter was trying to make a comeback, 25 West Enders got together at the Community Center to resume the conversation on visioning that started a year ago and continued in the pages of the Community Reporter.

Shifting gears somewhat from the usual discussion of community needs, the group tackled two related questions: (1) What are the assets (of all kinds) that we have here in the West End? And (2) What’s missing? That is, if we want to drive development and movement toward our ideas and the ideas of a broad range of community members, what action factors do we need to help bridge the gap between our needs and desires and their fulfillment?

Assets were grouped into five categories:
  • People: Interesting people; population diversity and socioeconomic variety; committed business owners; long-term residents; first generation immigrants — seniors still here; individuals; artists; aging and very elderly people; West End Gardeners.
  • Traditions: Community sense, community groups, caring.
  • Culture: Durability of neighborhood; significant historical perspective and institutions; Sokol Minnesota; West End Arts; medical culture (West Seventh as “the medical mile”); Upper Mississippi Flyway; ethnic foods; senior housing options; Upper Landing; “A pretty good place that wants to get better!”
  • Organizations: West Seventh Community Center; West Seventh/Fort Road Federation; Sholom Homes; Community Reporter; West End Arts; Sokol Minnesota; West Seventh Business Association; churches; Salvation Army; United Family Medicine and Residency Program; Associated Dentists; Helping Hand Dental Clinic; Jewish Community Center; schools; group homes; Sibley Manor; Metro Transit; Jewish Family Services; United Hospital; Joseph’s Coat; Mississippi Market food culture; Hazelden and other recovery resources; Healthy West 7th! Project; fire station and headquarters; West Seventh Library; Cooper’s SuperValu; specialized small business (J.W. Hulme, St. Paul Gallery, River Garden Yoga Center).
  • Structural: Central location, good transportation, proximity to downtown and airport; reasonably priced housing; Xcel to Fort Snelling; the bike path; parks and recreation opportunities; core leaders and stable power structure; retail businesses: long-standing, local, great personal service and no big box; grassroots activism and motivation; bars and pubs; coffee shops; historic housing and housing stock; faith communities; environmental concern; breweries, old and new (Schmidt, Summit, Flat Earth, Vine Park).
What’s Missing?
  • Qualities: Cohesion; integration; a standard across all sectors that classy, clean and understated “blue” is beautiful; a boost to our own self-image; Actions: Analyze 2010 census data — see who we are; bring diversity to West Seventh leadership; redevelop Brewery as a community-centered landmark; hold festivals and parades leading up to Iron Pour; redevelop Victoria Park and fight for inclusion of neighborhood values; make Palace Rec Center family centered and safe; enhance local theater, arts crawl events, beautification.
  • Infrastructure items: Network platform for communicating ideas and linking to talents/skills with appropriate venues and opportunities for collaboration; a neighborhood-based network of communicators, among organizations, individuals and policy-makers, with an emphasis on cross-generational and cross-economic class platforms — Community Reporter, social media, websites, e-mail.
What’s Next?
We are offering miniworkshops for any group (for example, clubs, group of residents in one building, staff of agencies, teachers) that wants to take part. These would be an hour and would work through the same materials as the larger session. Call or e-mail Jerry Rothstein, 651-587-8859 or editor@communityreporter.org.


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Cossetta's Vision for West Seventh | 4.11
[IMAGE]
by JERRY ROTHSTEIN

While others neighbors are working at a community visioning session (story on this page), Dave Cossetta has been engaged in his own visioning process over the last year, in which the central ideas are good food and quality of life (cibo buono and qualità di vita).

Photo: Dave Cossetta has several pictures of a
flooded Little Italty in the restaurant. Credit: Jerry Rothstein.


If he and the family members who are backing him have their way, the historic and already popular restaurant and market will be transformed into a complex of Italian food culture and a destination that could enhance many other West Seventh businesses as well.
Cossetta’s Market opened on West Seventh in 1978. In 1984 The Eatery was launched and soon became known for its pizza, receiving many awards. A catering arm, Eventi, came on stream in 1997 and is a leader in catering foods to corporate businesses.

[IMAGE]
The vision for Cossetta’s Alimentari combines and expands on an already successful enterprise. And the expansion involves constructing and integrating a new building into the present structure, using the present parking lot at West Seventh and Chestnut, and developing a rooftop restaurant and bar, expanded food markets and specialty sections, including a rosticceria (spit-roasted meats), a pasticceria (pastry shop) and a wine shop.

Photo: Cossetta's Pastry Shop was designed by Italian architects and represents the elegance of Italian design.

Each element of the Alimentari speaks to Cossetta’s concern for detail and quality. The Wine Shop, for example, will feature between 300 and 350 wines organized by the regions of Italy. The Market, already known for its comprehensive selection of Italian groceries, deli and specialty meats, expands in size and in the range of products offered. The Italian Rosticceria offers spit-roasted meats and accompaniments with a completely new menu, and the Pasticceria has been designed by Italian architects and is perhaps the most classically Italian space in the new building. Cossetta plans to have the entire Pasticceria constructed in Italy using authentic materials and Italian craftspersons, and installed here. Specially trained bakers and pastry chefs contribute freshly made pastries, cakes and cookies, along with an espresso bar and a new line of homemade gelato.

Last August, Mayor Chris Coleman launched Rebuild St. Paul, a $15 million project that combines bonding, city, state and federal funds, and private partnerships to get projects started. The initiative takes advantage of more than $1 billion in infrastructure investment and a variety of the city’s tools, including Tax Increment Financing (a method to use future gains in taxes to finance current improvements). Cossetta’s Alimentari is one of the major projects that comprise the Rebuild St. Paul vision, which may provide an investment of up to $2 million in the effort. At present City staff is involved in close analysis of the proposal, including risk assessment, public purpose, job creation and helping the growth of St. Paul as important factors. Dave Cossetta says that the project is ready to go, and hopes to start around July 1.


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