Transit to green space outing in downtown St. Paul

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When: A rainy Saturday morning, June 6.

Where: Rice Park, the site of the future Fitzgerald Park (or name may be Pedro Park), Wacouta Commons , Mears Park and Bruce Vento Wildlife Sanctuary.

How: Participants used several buses: #63, #3, #21. One person walked over; two drove, but one of those was in an Hour car due to an adventure with the buses. (More later from Andrea)

From where: There was no group gathering point for the transit portion. People came from south Minneapolis, Uptown, Falcon Heights and Macalester-Groveland, Crocus Hill and Irvine Park in St. Paul.

How easy: Very easy to access Rice and Mears Park, many buses come into downtown St. Paul, but watch out for those reduced weekend schedules. Note: the car drivers were at a disadvantage because they had to keep plugging meters.

A special note on Bruce Vento Sanctuary: there are two stops within about 1/2 mile of the Sanctuary, one on east 7th st. at Payne, and another on 5th st. just up from the Farmer’s Market next to the big Diamond Products building (walking map is forthcoming). No one in our group has actually taken a bus to one of these stops, but they seem well served. # 54 coming from the mall and airport down W. 7th stops on 5th; and the #74 from Highland via Randolph stops on E. 7th, as well as the #61. Metro Transit’s trip planner at one point had people coming from the west on the #63 going east of the park and walking back to the park on Kellogg. Problem: Kellogg is a raised road, and unless you sprout wings you can’t descend to the park. They have been informed via their comment option, and it looks as if the problem has been corrected.

Worth doing: St. Paul parks are interesting, beautiful and dynamic in the best tradition of city parks. The Vento Wildlife Sanctuary has added value in that it’s a wild spot near a city center that’s at the juncture of several trails for biking and walking.

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Bob Spaulding led us on a fascinating tour through three parks and one potential park unfazed by the intermittent rain. We found dry spots to look at old photos; for instance, of a very busy 7th street – now much changed by being blocked off by buildings. Parks like Rice and Mears have played an important role in downtown St. Paul – building community through gardening, events, and focusing development efforts. Tour participants were excited by the prospect of redevelopment along 10th street between Robert and Minnesota. A new park will be created filling the block where the now empty Pedro luggage stands. A new supermarket and apartments across 10th will incorporate the old neoclassical Public Safety Building. The eventual idea is to connect downtown parks together in an improved, greener, pedestrian-oriented network of “park streets”. Quality, historic public spaces make downtown St. Paul a very special place to live, work, and visit – and the City hopes to build that tradition into the future. And downtown, already equipped with essential services, has so much empty space and so much potential for redevelopment. Check out the these links for more information.

• Fitzgerald Park: CapitolRiver District Council Presentation
• Fitzgerald Park Precinct Plan (A City Comprehensive Plan Chapter)

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