The St. Paul City Council is holding a public hearing on Wednesday at 5:30, City Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 15 Kellogg Blvd. W. in downtown St. Paul.
If you cannot attend, or feel uncomfortable with public speaking, comments can be sent to your City Council member as well as submitted in the comment section of the Ford Site Master Plan. Here are the links:
Please ask your City Council member to vote “no” on the plan. Here’s why:
- There is no zoning designation for parks in the city’s zoning code. While there are new zoning codes that will be created specifically for the Ford site, with this plan, a parkland zoning designation is not amongst them. The architectural drawings show parks, but the zoning map shows those same areas zoned as 65′ and 75′ high residential and commercial development zones.
- The parkland dedication ordinance needs to be strengthened. As is, a fee can be paid in lieu of giving land to meet the dedication requirements.
- The city has dropped the Little League Fields from the plan. While there are differing views on how such recreational fields should be programmed, there is a long-standing history, more than 60 years, of families enjoying that recreational amenity without it costing the city anything. As late as February of this year, the city was still saying that finding a way to retain the recreational fields was a top priority. We should not give up on that pursuit. In the plan, that area is zoned for 75′ high commercial buildings.
- The lower section of the Ford property, Area C, is still highly contaminated. Earlier in the planning, the City indicated that area would be cleaned up to recreational standards. The May, 2017 pollution report states that it is not cleaned up to recreational standards and in fact there is still the possibility of direct contact with industrial waste and contamination risk. We need leverage to get that pollution in the river basin cleaned up.
- The trails on the bluff are in danger of eroding. One idea is to shift Mississippi River Boulevard slightly away from the bluff. The site plan does not do that.
- The current Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area rules that govern the development within the National Park call for height restrictions of 40′ in the section of the Ford site within the National Park. A community process is required to take place around those height restrictions but that community process has not happened yet.
Some of these points are specifically called out in the Ford Open Space Guidelines, a study the City conducted as part of the Ford process, which calls for 1) balancing open space and development, 2) calculating the value of open space in the redevelopment equation, 3) expanding the green space on the river bluff in the National Park, and 4) unequivocally calling for the preservation of the Highland Little League Baseball Fields.
Thank you for your support of parks, trails, and open space and giving them the attention they deserve in this process. After all, parks add economic value to the property surrounding them and livability to our community. They should be viewed as a major component of any development plan. The Ford site is a world-class site and deserves world-class development.