Dear members and friends,
Best wishes to you all for a Happy New Year! This year is beginning with a new spirit of hope as vaccines are being distributed and as a nation we are focusing efforts towards equity, unity and climate change. We must all stay the course and do our part to beat the pandemic, so staying masked, distanced and recreating outdoors is still important until we receive notice from the experts. This is why our parks, trails and open space areas are more important than ever for exercise, mental and emotional well-being. We must remain vigilant in supporting and protecting these areas from encroachment and development.
It has come to our attention that Ramsey County is considering plans to dispose of two pieces of property in the City of Maplewood – a 77-acre open space grassland just north of the County Correctional facility on Century Ave. and the Ponds at Battle Creek Golf Course. The county proposes that these two properties be sold for development. We believe these properties should remain in the public domain and continue to be managed as recreational land, parkland or open space. These two properties represent 165 acres of recreational land and open space that the public now enjoys and that should be protected under the “no net loss” provision of the Ramsey County Charter, Sec.02 K, which states that “park, recreational and open space land may not be converted to another use unless such land and recreational facilities are replaced in an equivalent amount and of similar quality”. There is no place in Ramsey County to mitigate that amount of park land or open space. There is, however, plenty of land available for sale in Maplewood that is better suited for development.
The 77-acre grassland is prime habitat and home to several species of grassland birds that are in serious decline in the state as noted by the St. Paul Audubon Chapter. This piece of property would be a nice addition to Battle Creek Regional Park.
The Ponds at Battle Creek is an award-winning golf course that not only hosts an innovative youth program, but is habitat for many wildlife species as well. A group of golf proponents has organized to save the course. The county claims it’s a budget issue to continue operating the course. Whatever they decide to do, we would like to see it remain a public recreational park or open space. Parks and open space have intrinsic value to the community that is not always apparent. The value to human physical and mental health has been realized in no uncertain terms this past year, but also the value of storm water retention, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration and biodiversity refuge are hugely important and impossible to calculate in monetary terms.
If you value either of these properties or the flora and fauna that live there, let your voice be heard by writing or emailing your Ramsey county commissioner or attend the virtual public hearing on January 27.
Stay informed, be active and well and thank you for your continued support!
Scott Ramsay, President