When: Saturday, May 15.How: Various means. Mostly bike and walking. One bus trip originating in Anoka involving two buses, one transfer in downtown Minneapolis. The Woodland is on the #3A busline along Horton Ave. Some car pooling. From Where: All points of the compass: downtown St. Paul, Roseville, Falcon Heights, Anoka, Uptown, South Minneapolis, Mac Groveland (St. Paul) and the Como area. How Long: Rich’s trip from Anoka using #852 and the #3A with a half hour layover in dowtown Minneapolis is probably the longest. Bike trips and walking were under one hour.
Ease: In the right weather, access is mostly easy from points within the cities by bike, from nearby walking, and along the #3 bus line. While no one in this group took it, the Como Park shuttle is an important addition to the transportation picture at Como. It is designed to run from parking lots to the west, near Como Ave. and the fair grounds, to the Zoo and Conservatory entrance. Check it out at Como Park’s website.The biggest problem with the #3 bus is the once-an-hour Saturday schedule requiring careful planning. But it does run year round, where the shuttle is summer season only. The new interactive map on the Metro Transit website is very helpful for visualizing the bus route and finding stops. One complaint of bicyclists coming from Minneapolis: intermittent bike striping on Como Avenue.Worth doing: On a sunny, spring day getting to the park without a car is definitely worth doing. In the winter, if you’re near the bus line it’s also possible to get to the park for skiing. Skis are allowed on the bus. The entire park has much to offer: Como Lake, the zoo, the Conservatory, golf course, picnic grounds. And the woodland, of course. _________________________________________________ About 38 people came to the old streetcar station at Lexington and Horton for the tour of the woodland on the south side of Como Park. The group included students from nearby Como High. Welcome, students! The day was beautiful and sunny after a week of mostly rain. There is definitely a lot of interest in what’s happening in Como, as witnessed by the many questions for Bryan Murphy, our guide. Bryan is a planner with St. Paul Parks and Recreation, and he developed the renovation plan for this somewhat unknown corner of the park. We strolled through the current oak woodland which needs some work to remove invasives like burdock and buckthorn and spent time examining the huge, dilapidated fireplace built during the WPA era. Bryan laid out the vision of what could be if funding (beginning with a bill on Gov. Pawlenty’s desk) comes through: outdoor natural classrooms for inner city students, including the oak woodland, an ephemeral wetland, a sedge meadow, a tallgrass prairie, and a coniferous forest. Trail work and restoration of the big fireplace and an historic – but now well-hidden cascades – would also be possible. Not least, Bryan’s remarks made us aware of how cars affect the park. He spoke at length about the need for careful attention to road layout to mitigate traffic and reduce the need to take more green space for parking. (Hence the Como shuttle, mentioned above.) So, a lot of money is needed to bring this vision to life. But wait–NEWS BULLETIN: just got word a day after the outing – the bill Bryan spoke of awaiting the governor’s signature was signed, and so the first installment of $$ for the woodland classroom is coming through. Shall we do another ttgs outing in a year or so to see the progress? Addendum on the shuttle bus: It’s free (funded in part by a federal grant), and frequent, one every 10 to 12 minutes. Is this the way of the future to save our parks from excessive traffic and parking lots? Circulater buses to parks certainly seem like a good idea. One drawback in this case is that the shuttle is still quite car-oriented, so that it doesn’t help youth or other populations without drivers licenses and cars. The fair grounds lot however can be accessed relatively easily by people using the #84 bus on Snelling Ave, which is pretty good on weekends. Check the schedule for details.