St. Paul leaders are taking the first steps towards a full-scale renovation of Rice Park, the downtown square that fronts on the Ordway and Landmark centers.
On Monday morning, the St. Paul Garden Club is giving the city a $46,000 check to begin the planning process for the 120-year-old park, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful urban squares in the country. Its fountain and large leafy trees provide the backdrop for numerous events and festivals.
Officials and community leaders said, however, that more events and more visitors are taking a toll on the park. The Ordway is adding a $75 million concert hall and the Landmark Center is undergoing a $4 million restoration, making it the right time to take a new look at how the park functions, said Amy Mino, president of the Rice Park Association, a private group dedicated to enhancing the park area.
"Rice Park is a jewel in downtown and requires a commitment from both the city and neighborhood groups to keep it looking beautiful," Mino said.
Following a public engagement process, a conceptual plan will be developed for the park that includes an estimated cost and a timeline for how the plan would be implemented.
The St. Paul Garden Club first planted 1,700 tulips in Rice Park in 1927, and has helped maintain the park’s growth since. Most recently, it purchased and installed 140 yew shrubs in the park.
Photo courtesy of Nice Ride Minnesota
St. Paul residents are getting used to seeing the green Nice Ride bikes being pedaled down city streets. But this week, Nice Ride has introduced orange bikes to some of the most underserved areas in the Twin Cities.
As part of the Nice Ride Neighborhood Program, 145 orange bikes are being distributed to cyclists in Frogtown and the East Side as well as North Minneapolis. The goal of the initiative is to cultivate new cyclists, said Paul Stucker, the Neighborhood Program coordinator for Nice Ride.
"We’re looking at different tools to serve different communities...We’re really looking geographically at what areas are cut off and need a different tool," Stucker said.
Over on the East Side. there aren't any urban bike shares, Stucker said. While there are green bikes in Frogtown and the North Side of Minneapolis, they haven't been as popular as in other areas, he said. Of the 145 orange bikes, 51 went to residents in St. Paul.
Nice Ride partnered with several local organizations to identify program participants. The partners in St. Paul are Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, Hmong American Partnership, Model Cities, St. Paul Public Housing, and Vietnamese Social Services. In Minneapolis, the partners are Emerge, Minneapolis Urban League, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, and Redeemer Center for Life. All of the orange Neighborhood bikes have been committed to participants for this year.
Besides attending an orientation, orange bike cyclists are also encouraged to participate in community events such as last weekend's Rondo Days to connect with other participants. The orange bikes aren't linked to the urban bike sharing system at all, Stucker said. The chosen cyclists keep their bikes until October, when they turn them in and help evaluate the program, he said. Feedback and engagement could determine what the program looks like next year as well as provide information for potential Nice Ride expansion, Stucker said.
City and industry leaders, including Mayor Chris Coleman, have scheduled an update for tomorrow morning on redevelopment of the Ford plant site in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood.
"St. Paul has some of the region's brightest minds, boldest thinkers, and ablest hands who will contribute their talents to propel this site to be a national model of redevelopment and innovative reuse of a former industrial property," said Coleman, in a statement released Monday.
Still, it won't be until next year that Ford, which owns the site, plans to solicit proposals nationally for redevelopment of the site. Only then will we have a better idea about what might actually go there.
City leaders have expressed hopes for a mixed-use development that includes housing, business and green space.
The 122-acre riverfront site has been largely cleared of the structures Ford used for decades to build vehicles ranging from the Model T to the Ranger pickup truck. Demolition began a little more than a year ago.
The big task now will be the ongoing work of cleaning the polluted site to industrial standards.
Participating in the Tuesday news conference, scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Ford site, will be Coleman, City Council Member Chris Tolbert, and Ford site manager Mike Hogan.
A new Rondo Community Center appears to be a step closer to reality.
On Wednesday, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and other city and state officials and neighborhood dignitaries will gather at the planned site for the center in St. Paul's Summit-University neighborhood. The event is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m.
Coleman will officially transfer the deed for the property that will become the center's home. Other announcements are expected at that time, including a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society and the lineup for the July 19 Rondo Days celebration.
Rondo Avenue was once at the heart of the city's black community. But the street and many neighboring homes were bulldozed to make way for Interstate 94 in the 1960s. Rondo Days celebrates the neighborhood's legacy.
The community center site is at 820 Concordia Avenue.
Youth baseball on the West Side of St. Paul is sure to get a jolt of new energy Thursday when officials and baseball greats gather to dedicate All Star Park at Gilbert de la O Fields at the El Rio Vista Recreation Center. It's all set to begin at 2 p.m.
De la O is a former member of the St. Paul School Board and a longtime champion of the city's West Side.
Expected to attend are: Jim Pohlad, owner of the Twins; former Twins great Tony Oliva; Vera Clemente, widow of baseball great Roberto Clemente and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
The field has been developed with funds from the Minnesota Twins and the project was recently included in a list of community efforts getting a boost from Major League Baseball's All Star Game, to be played at Target Field in Minneapolis.
El Rio Vista is located at 179 Robie St. E. in St. Paul.