E-DEMOCRACY | Lorax of Lilydale’s views on “Legacy”


From: Jon Kerr Date: Oct 17 14:56 UTC

For those that missed it, the Lorax was in Lilydale recently. See what he had to say about development plans using our Legacy tax funds!


Lorax of Lilydale Park


The Lorax came to Lilydale Park looking for Saint Paul Parks & Rec Director Mike Hahm and he was not happy about what he found going on!

From: steve scholl Date: Oct 17 18:19 UTC

i am not completely sure just what constitutes the Lilydale Park, or where the actual boundaries exist. I know it is between the ‘Yacht Club’ (what a joke/misnomer, but’s that’s totally another issue) and the area where the houseboats are moored in St Paul. I ride my bike through there very frequently and visit there with snowshoes when there is snow. I guess I am missing something, but it is rather dismal. The road is really decrepit. Lots of potholes and as you approach the northeast end, there is a section that is always wet and rutted. While riding along the road I have noticed what looks to be a lake to the south of the road, and have seen people in the gravel parking lot near it, operating radio controlled cars there.

During the winter I park in the lot where people park their boat trailers after launching their boats and tromp around on either side of the road on snowshoes.

It is enjoyable, but would be more enjoyable if there were some type of visitor center or other building.

One time a cycling friend visited the cities for a conference and I took him on a ride around the metro area, part of which was through the park. He remarked how neat it was to be in the quiet park area surrounded by a major metropolitan area. You would hardly know the metro area even existed. However, he wanted to know why there was no shelter or place to stop in the area, and why the road was not better maintained.

Whoever has been on the road knows the section where only one vehicle can pass and how the road is really too narrow for two vehicles and bikes. So I do not understand what the problem is to build a shelter and fix up the roads. As for removing trees, unless they have some historical designation, what is the problem? You remove some and plant others.

steve scholl


From: Jon Kerr Date: Oct 17 19:21 UTC


You are absolutely correct about existing problems on the current Water Street, with safety and erosion issues, especially in the northeast part (nearest Harriet Island). It is hard to believe it would pass an ADA test and there are several dangerous spots where bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles must share the same pavement at tight corners.

The problem is that Parks’ construction contracts which they plan to let in January do not address any of these issues.

They are only beginning construction, using Legacy funds, on the other (southwest) side of the Union Pacific railroad trestle. They cannot even widen the trestle from its current single-lane there because perplexingly they have not even begun serious negotiations with the RR (May 4, 2012 Alice Messer letter on city website.) And they apparently didn’t realize until we pointed out that their new roadway design would create a blind curve just past the same trestle.

Parks consultants also missed the fact that there were wetlands in the path of their planned new roadway, which is largely just a means for getting to their planned new parking lots and buildings on top of a still decomposing landfill. They can’t even make utility connections to the proposed buildings until they run them from Harriet Island and reach a deal with Union Pacific. (BTW, does anyone really believe that will be easier or less-costly when the RR knows we’ve already spent $3 million on “wrong” side of their tracks?)

My concern as a taxpayer also extends to spending another $500,000 in Legacy funds replacing trees for a new roadway that runs through wetlands that Parks consultants also somehow missed. There have been other puzzling environmental oversights and mistakes.

There are different perspectives on shelter design, size and location – as well as concerns about security/maintenance in a largely-unpatrolled floodplain park. I agree that parts of the Park need improvement and Friends of Lilydale led the push for cleaning up the lakefront parking lot area from the muddy pit you described. We’ve also pushed for minimal bathrooms, small public meeting areas e.g. fire rings, bike and pedestrian trail additions, interpretive signage, and other low-impact improvements.

This isn’t about no changes to upgrade the Lilydale Park experience. It is about appropriate and sustainable changes that keeps the character you described well of a unique place in the center of a metropolitan area. It is also about spending limited public funds appropriately and smartly.

There is a clear alternative that Parks staff has been refusing to consider: Fix the first part (worst part) of the road first. It even gives time to work out better solutions to major environmental, engineering and railroad easement problems. At very worst it only re-stages Parks’ current plan if that is really the best approach and what the public wants.

From: Mike Fratto Date: Oct 17 19:51 UTC

I think Steve has a point.

Its been about five years since I last spent much time in the area, other than driving down the road. Back then the new paths that wound beyond the tressel to the Pool and Yacht Club was nice to ride or run on. However, no one bothered to check the area to make sure the paths were cleared of debris during the months with no snow on the ground and, more importantly, no one plowed any of the paved pathways after snowfalls.

So can anyone tell us what is planned for the area, other than widening the road?



The probability that we may

fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause

we believe to be just.

~Abraham Lincoln

Please help those who don’t get enough to eat. http://oyh.org http://hungersolutions.org

The future depends more on what we do between now and then Than what we did in the past.

From: Jonathan Carter Date: Oct 17 20:36 UTC

The Lilydale Regional Park Master Plan and the process that led to the current plan and priorities can be found on the city website at http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=2693.

The process for plan began in fall of 2010. The whole process is presented on the site and you will note there was an opportunity for a great deal of public input. I believe there is a group of residents, led by the Friends of Lilydale, that feel that their views were not considered relevant or even heard during the process. Mr. Kerr could speak to that far better than I can.

As a commissioner and chair of the parks commission during this period I have felt that the Parks and Recreation Department conducted appropriate public meetings, developed a plan that incorporated public input and then thoughtfully prioritized work for the plan in coordination with available funding. But as with all major developments there may be valid alternate options. Mr. Kerr, has done a great job of promoting an alternate vision and informing the public. As with all city master plans, the residents have input and influence and if you believe the plan and priorities need to be rethought you need to contact your councilmember.

Jonathan Carter

Mahtomedi, MN

From: Jeanne Weigum Date: Oct 17 21:11 UTC

The Master Plan taskforce actually began meeting in 2007 and was completed in 2009 and was approved by the City Council in October 2009 and by the Met Council in January 2010.

It is my understanding that both Jon and his spouse Grit served on the task force that made the recommendations to the Amended Masterplan and both of them voted in favor of the Amended Master Plan. It is my understanding that the only taskforce vote against the Plan was from the Friends of the Parks.

Jeanne Weigum

Merriam Park

From: Grit Youngquist Date: 14:03 UTC

Hello SPIFers, (2nd try to respond)

My husband, Jon Kerr, may want to speak for himself tomorrow when he can post again under SPIF rules.

Yes, Jeanne, we served on the task force and voted for the Master Plan. Many times we have publicly acknowledged our error in acting hastily at the pleading of Parks’ staff after just 3 meetings in 2 & 1/2 years. Our reservations were overcome by staff’s insistence that failure to provide them with task force support at that moment would jeopardize funding opportunities for years. We believed staff assurances there would be further, much needed Task Force discussion of their “conceptual plan”, along with a public process to come to resolution about critical points of difference.

Parks’ got our vote. But the trust was quickly broken when they announced there would be no Task Force discussions for at least a year. We objected strenuously. Subsequent Design Task Force meetings did finally occur, yet the promised discussions about priorities and the big picture never took place, despite out our requests time and again. Even Parks’ own 2008 survey of public priorities for Lilydale Park, which largely coincided with things our Friends’ group has heard over the years, was largely ignored.

We naively trusted, based on about 10 yrs of very positive experiences working closely and collaboratively with Parks’ leadership and staff. We were accustomed to being able to trust the word of staff. We had a history of working constructively through differences. But it turns out, that was ‘back in the day’. Somewhere, things had changed markedly – probably related to new funding pressures and opportunities.

Additionally, new concerning information has come to light since staff dismissed the Design Task Force in February. A few of the factors that were never considered by the Task Force have significant implication for park plans, including: * Parks’ staff’s unilateral decision to only construct a new road to the west of the railroad trestle in the middle of the park; * Learning that Parks’ has no easement rights under the Union Pacific rail line, which will impact: a) getting utlilities to the proposed new buildings, and b) road/trail safety without ability to widen the trestle (as originally shown in Parks’ design drawings); * Engineering questions about building a road and buildings on a decomposing landfill and related long-term maintenance and viability concerns (e.g., the constant bubbling and buckling of pavement as occurs now on the bike path in the same area the new road will be. This past summer those problems caused safety issues on the trail w/ bike crashes and injuries. The trail had to be closed for a time and repaired.) * Last, but not least, environmental concerns related to building on the decomposing landfill, plus the “discovery” of “low grade” wetlands in the path of Parks’ new road. * The list could go on…

Yes, we made a bad decision, a grave mistake in 2009. Does that now mean a very poorly conceived Lilydale Park plan should inevitably move forward? There’s still time for Parks’ to make an in-course correction, to use the Legacy Funds for part of the Master Plan which clearly has public support: fix the road from the High Bridge to the RR trestle underpass, the related bluffside erosion problems and trail improvements.

Grit Youngquist

West Side & Friends of Lilydale Park

See thread here.

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