What’s making news in St. Paul, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to richard.meryhew@startribune.com.

Posts about Parks and recreation

City extends Fitness in the Parks

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: September 15, 2014 - 3:09 PM

Want to get fit this fall? Or, at least fitter?

St. Paul Parks and Recreation is extending its free outdoor fitness program, Fitness in the Parks, thanks to popular demand.

The program, which started in June, will now run well into autumn.

“Our goal for the Fitness in the Parks program was to give people another reason to get outdoors and exercise,” said Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm. “The success of this program has exceeded our expectations, and the public has expressed a lot of interest in seeing this program continue for as long as weather will permit. We are pleased to offer classes through the end of September.”

Summer program classes included martial arts, dance, yoga, boot camp, Pilates, Zumba and CrossFit. Classes scheduled for September include yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cherokee Heights Park, CrossFit on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Harriet Island and boot camp on Saturdays at Indian Mounds Park. Classes are taught by people with local Saint Paul businesses who have partnered with the City of St. Paul.

No prior registration is required and classes are free and open to all ages and fitness levels. For more information including the most recent schedule, visit stpaul.gov/FitnessintheParks.

Wanted: Food and rec services manager for Como Pavilion

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: September 11, 2014 - 12:47 PM

St. Paul will host a tour Friday morning of the lakeside pavilion at Como Park for vendors interested in managing food and recreational services there.

That wouldn't be especially interesting, except for the fact that the City Council a couple weeks ago agreed to spend $800,000 to sever ties with longtime pavilion manager Black Bear Crossings.

Black Bear's owners, David and Pamela Glass, had sued the city for breach of contract, claiming that parks officials had wrongfully prevented them from renewing their lease.

A Ramsey County judge ruled they were entitled to damages from the city, which led to the settlement approved by the City Council -- the third largest in St. Paul's history.

Black Bear will close at the end of the year, so St. Paul officials want to get a new manager in place to launch a new cafe and take over the busy banquet calendar at Como.

That's why, at 9 a.m. Friday, they'll conduct tours of the pavilion facility and take questions from interested parties. They're looking for someone to manage all aspects of the pavilion, including food and catering services, rec services on or around the lake, and facility maintenance.

For more information, click on www.stpaulbids.com/.

$46,000 kick-starts Rice Park renovation plan

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: August 18, 2014 - 10:25 AM

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.

Nice Ride launches Neighborhood Program in East Side, Frogtown and North Mpls.

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: July 25, 2014 - 3:21 PM

Photo courtesy of Nice Ride Minnesota

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.

Update on Ford site set for Tuesday

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: July 21, 2014 - 10:28 AM

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.

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