The St. Paul parks department would like your help planning for some much-needed upgrades to the Cherokee Park playground.
The city has received $342,000 from the state’s Legacy fund to pay for replacement of the play structure at the park. The original playground was built in 1994, according to project manager Cheeneng Yang.
While the playground looks fine from a distance the wear and tear is evident on closer inspection. Portions of the structure are rusted, dented and broken, and the protective coating on the walkways is worn through in many locations.
Nearby swings are clearly much older, and one option under consideration is to consolidate the swings, now spread across the park, into a single location.
To get involved, the easiest thing you can do is take the city’s online survey. There will also be a community meeting on November 17 from 5-7 p.m. at the Baker Park Recreation Center to discuss the project.
The city is also organizing a design task force, if you’re interested in participating you can contact Yang via email or at 651-266-6414.
Because this is a Legacy fund project, 1 percent of the budget will go to public art — and the city will be seeking out artists to contribute.
While the Robert Street project is getting most of the attention once again in the West St. Paul municipal election, there is another major construction project in the city that will be upon us soon.
As noted in this space before, the Highway 149 project will involve major work along the Smith and Dodd corridors in West St. Paul – resurfacing the roadway but also upgrading sidewalks and curbs in many locations to bring them into ADA compliance. The project presents an opportunity — perhaps the only opportunity in the coming decades — to implement the suggestions of the Smith Avenue Revitalization Plan, developed by a stakeholder group of residents and businesses in 2010 and adopted by both the West St. Paul and St. Paul city councils the following year. Specific recommendations from the plan include:
Improve walkability to enhance pedestrian safety
Establish safe bike routes for all users
Establish traffic calming measures
Design uniform elements to improve the streetscape
It’s important to remember that MnDOT sees this as a “restoration” project, i.e. resurfacing the roadway in its current configuration. Any changes above and beyond that will be largely up to the cities to implement.
So with that in mind, the stubbornlylocal blog posed the following question to the candidates for mayor of West St. Paul, as well as the city council candidates for Ward 3, which includes the entirety of Smith Avenue and Dodd Road in the city.
As MnDOT plans to rehabilitate the Highway 149 corridor in 2018 (including Smith Avenue and Dodd Road), it is looking for opportunities to make safety improvements and other upgrades. The Smith Avenue comprehensive plan, based on a yearlong stakeholder process involving residents and business owners and adopted by both St. Paul and West St. Paul, calls in particular for traffic calming and improved pedestrian/multimodal safety along the corridor. Should West St. Paul use this opportunity to implement the recommendations of the comprehensive plan? And if so, what steps should the city take?
Their responses are published in their entirety below.
David Meisinger, current mayor of West St. Paul
(Mayor Meisinger did not respond to attempts to contact him via email or social media)
Jenny Halverson, current Ward 2 councilmember and candidate for mayor
Given the improvements planned by MNDOT along Smith Avenue in 2018, West St. Paul should use this opportunity to study the feasibility of incorporating the pedestrian/multimodal safety enhancements provided in the comprehensive plan. This plan should continue to be updated and vetted by our residents and business owners to ensure that the implementation of it makes sense for West St. Paul. Improving walkability and making West St. Paul more bike-friendly will make our City safer and more attractive to current and potential residents and businesses. Thank you for the opportunity to provide my thoughts on this important issue in West St. Paul.
David Napier, current Ward 3 councilmember
I think it is a great idea to take a look at the plan prior to the reconstruction of 149. Vehicle and Pedestrian safety should be the top priority. The Smith Avenue Revitalization Plan (SARP) is well thought out and certainly calls for a more pedestrian friendly corridor. The Smith Ave and 149 intersection should be modified to allow for increased safety.
As you know, we purchased the old auto repair shop on the corner and removed the building. This open area might allow enough space to creatively redesign the intersection and possibly make room for economic development opportunities. I would not stop there. I would review the plan as it relates to West St Paul’s section of the corridor from 149 down to Annapolis. So in conclusion, I would suggest the City of West St Paul work with a consultant to review the SARP and determine if we should be doing anything to position ourselves better for the reconstruction of 149.
John Ramsay, candidate for Ward 3 council seat
I have not had the opportunity to review the options for the Smith/Dodd road project as of yet with the election close at hand. I am sure there are items that could improve travel on these roads. On a project of this scale, it will require some deep thought to take full advantage for the Residents and businesses needs in that area.
I look forward in reviewing the material that is available in the oncoming weeks.
Thanks to everyone for your responses – remember to vote on November 8!
Disclosure: The author of this post served on both the Smith Avenue revitalization task force and the MnDOT community advisory committee for the Highway 149 project.