Volume 21, Number 1 www.friendsoftheparks.org February, 2006

Feb. 2006 Newsletter of the Friends of St. Paul and Ramsey County Parks 1621 Beechwood Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55116 651-689-3558

Park Notes is published quarterly by the Friends of St. Paul and Ramsey County Parks. Editors are Peggy Lynch and Jeanne Weigum. For additional information call 651-689-3558.

Park grants and improvements

The National park Service has awarded $145,000 in grants for improvements to regional trails along the Mississipp River in the Twin Cities. The two trail segments are within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), a unit of the National Park System that covers 72 miles of the river corridor through the twin Cities.

The City of Saint Paul will receive $97,000 to construct an off-road bituminous trail through part of the Lilydale area of Harriet Island-Lilydale Regional park. Currently, bicyclists and pedestrians must use the narrow roadway that runs through the park. The new 1.37 mile trail will improve trail user safety and provide linkages to existing trails at Harriet Island and the Big River Regional Trail to the west.

- $145,000 for trails to protect the integrity of welands in Lilydale. Approximately 117,000 visitors use the trail annually.

- The Park Service also granted $48,000 to the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Department to replace a section of trail in Riverfront Regional park south of I-694 in Fridley. Both projects should be completed in 2006.

Trying to get started as an urban birder? Below are free opportunities.

Attracting Birds to your yard, Carrol Henderson, Roseville Skating Center April 28, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Eagle Viewing, Keller Golf Course, April 29, 1 - 3:00 pm
Peregrine Falcon Viewing, Ford Bridge, May 1, 6 - 8:00 pm

Tree Sale

The 2006 tree brochure is in the mail and is posted on the Friends' web site. As always you can purchase trees and shrubs for your own use or you can purchase trees to be planted in Dakota and Ramsey County parks and the cities of Apple Valley, Blaine, Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Mendota Heights, Saint Louis Park, South Saint Paul, West Saint Paul, Woodbury, Saint Paul and most other municipalities within Ramsey County. Only Saint Paul and Arden Hills will accept the native shrubs we are carrying this year.

We work hard to select trees and shrubs that are hardy, disease resistant, attractive, offer year-round interest and food or habitat for wildlife. We offer many natives. All of our selections are hardy in zone 4 and many are hardy further north to zone 3. We try to offer something for everyone, small trees for small lots or under utility lines, vines for fences, large trees for large lots and parks. Many of the items we offer are either hard to find or very expensive through normal outlets. If you like a tree, but your yard will absolutely not accommodate one more, contribute to a park. It will be there for decades for you and your family to enjoy.

Our web site has links to color photos and more complete descriptions of all our items. Check it out at www.friendsoftheparks.org. If you have not received a tree brochure or you need extra copies, call 651-689-3558. If you get a duplicate, please pass it on to a tree loving friend.

The tree sale is the Friends only fund raiser. Help the Friends and the environment with the purchase of a tree or shrub. Trees and shrubs for 2006 Sugar Maple* River Birch* Bur Oak* Autumn Blaze Ash Twisty Baby Locust Pendula Weeping Willow Prairiefire Crab Miss Canada Lilac Blue Muffin Viburnum American Cranberry* Pagoda Dogwood* Medora Juniper Black Hills Spruce *denotes native

Airport Flood Wall Push Continues

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) continues a relentless push for construction of a floodwall around Saint Paul's Downtown Airport, Holman Field. Since 2002 the MAC has lobbied for building a 9,635 foot long wall rising 9 feet above the natural terrain. No thing of beauty, 4249 feet of the length would be a sheet pile wall driven into the river bank nearly fifty feet deep. The Friends of the Parks as well as Friends of the Mississippi, Sierra Club and other environmental groups have opposed its construction from the beginning.

The visual impact of a sheet pile wall from Indian Mounds Park across the river, from the Samuel Morgan Trail and from the river itself is only one reason for community opposition. First and foremost is the city's zoning code. The Saint Paul Zoning code prohibits any flood control structures which remove areas from the floodway. The entire purpose of this dike is to remove it from the path of the flood. The city's zoning code prohibits removing floodway because it just forces more water into other areas. While the argument can be made that it is just a little bit of flood way removed, the zoning code was intended to establish the principle that the flood way is important to the entire community and to those up and down stream. Other reasons for opposing the flood was are water quality, endangered or threatened species, and excessive expenditure for minimal public benefit and inadequate project review by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Water quality concerns were raised by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) which believes the proposed construction could encounter contaminated fill. They noted that polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals have been found during previous investigation at the sites near the project. The MPCA stated that because of staff reductions the agency did not intended to additional project review.

The Endangered Species Act sets requirements to determine if any endangered or threatened species would be affected. A site visit was done in December, 2002, however, with frozen terrain and snow cover, it is unlikely that there was much chance of observing much in the way of plants or animals. The Friends do not view this rather cursory review as adequate. Environmental review by the US Environmental Protection Agency was just as cursory with their documents actually stating that other workload priorities precluded them from detailed review and comment.

For all the criticism of the flood wall, one of the more interesting issues is that it won't even get the job done, protecting the airport from high water. The Mississippi River has flooded five times since 1965. The proposed flood wall would have only prevented flooding of the airport for only three of those floods. For a $28 million dollar tax payer contribution, having only 60% effectiveness would appear to be a major draw back!

At this writing the Saint Paul Planning Commission has not yet made their recommendation regarding the zoning variance requested by the MAC. Whatever their recommendation is, it will undoubtedly be appealed to the city council for a final decision.

If you would like to express your opinion about the flood wall, contact Mayor Chris Coleman, 266-6424 and members of the council: Dan Bostrom, 266-8660; Lee Helgen,266-8650; Kathy Lantry, 266-8670 Debbie Montgomery,266-8610; Jay Benanav,266-8640 Pat Harris, 266-8630; and Dave Thune, 266-8620.

In memory of Kent Dickerman

When an elegant elderly man with a cane attended the first public meeting to discuss the reclamation of Dickerman Park in 2002, at first no one took notice. He blended in with the many neighbors and business people who generated ideas for reviving the park, a narrow band of land running along University Avenue between Prior and Fairview.

When he stood to say, "My name is Kent Dickerman." people's mouths dropped in amazement. No one realized that the family which donated this linear park and for whom it was named for still lived in Saint Paul. So began an odyssey which is far from complete, although Kent's personal journey came to a close with his death on January 30, 2006.

After learning about the existence of the 2.6 acre park, Kent decided that the chopped up, disjointed and largely neglected and forgotten park was not the kind of legacy his grandfather had in mind when he donated the land. It certainly was not the kind of legacy he wanted his own name on. He contacted the rest of his family and told them the story of the park. Together with his wife, Ariel, they created a family fund raiser and brought in $46,000 to jump-start planning for turning the neglected tract into a tree-lined strolling park with public art, outdoor cafes and paths. He suffered what turned out to be a fatal stroke before the plans could become reality. Consistent with his wishes and enthusiasm for one of Saint Paul's oldest and most hidden parks, memorials were directed to the Friends for use in completing Kent's dream park.

Spring Parks Cleanup

The 20th annual Spring Parks Cleanup is Saturday, April 15th 8:30 to 11:00 am. While bitterly cold temperatures outside and the winter Olympics on TV may make spring clean-up seem an eternity away, planning is well underway. This is a chance for volunteers to help clean up the public spaces in and around your own neighborhood. If you would like to sign up to help or have a way of publicizing the event in your neighborhood (like passing flyers around the block) call Meghan Manhatton at 651-632-2459 or email Meghan at environment@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

Park land dedication ordinance goes to Council

An ordinance which will require that developers set aside money or land for parks and open space is headed for the Saint Paul City Council. The ordinance has been years in coming and closely parallels similar ordinances in surrounding suburban communities. The ordinance seeks to keep the amount of parks and open space in line with the current availability of parks while the density of housing increases with 2000's style development. The ordinance will provide between 5 and 12 acres of park or open space per 1000 households. Currently there are about 3.6 acres per 1,000 households.

To express your opinion about this ordinance, contact Mayor Coleman or members of the city council (names listed above.) For further information please see the Friends' November 2005 newsletter at www.friendsoftheparks.org or call 651-689-3558.

Recycle Cell Phones

Have an old cell phone in the back of the drawer or the glove compartment? Hate to throw it away but have absolutely no use for it? We have just the answer. Donate it and all accessories to the Como Zoo & Conservatory. The phones will be recycled and reused. The phones may be brought to the Visitor Center or the Primate Building or mailed to the Como Education Department 1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, 55103. The money raised will support the orangutang conservation project.

So, what happens after you drop off the phone? The phones go to ECO-CELL where 70% of the phones will be used by first-time low income users abroad or by selected local organizations such as battered women's programs for emergency use such as 911 calls. ECO-CELL has a strict no-landfill program. All items received including batteries, accessories, and cell phones with no resale value will be recycled using the best demonstrated technologies for recycling e-waste.