Updates from Shirley Erstad
November 2, 2015
Full disclosure, I am Executive Director of Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County. I worked on the recent Parkland Dedication ordinance that was passed in August and went into effect October 3. Agree with the ordinance or not, one has to ask how well the city is working when an ordinance has to be re-visted after being on the books less than a month. Two years’ worth of work went into this thing. Now the city is putting more staff time and energy into fixing it.
Friends of the Parks and other concerned citizens spoke against the ordinance, saying it wouldn’t do enough for parks and wouldn’t be enforceable. Lo and behold, the city is now trying to fix it because, well, it isn’t enforceable. Add to that the fact that the city didn’t even wait for the City Council to act on the matter before already putting language (that the City Council was supposedly going to be sending) to the Planning Commission’s Comprehensive Planning Committee on October 27. The City Council discussed on October 28 and decided they needed to learn more, so will be discussing again on November 4, 3:30, Council Chambers, 3rd floor of City Hall, 15 W. Kellogg Boulevard.
It seems prudent for the City Council to slow down and take another look at this. How do we know there aren’t more issues with this ordinance, other than the one the city’s proposed language (with no public review or input) is supposed to be fixing? This is the ordinance they drafted and argued for, after all. I suggest contacting your Council Member before Wednesday and requesting him or her to ask some questions about the entire ordinance, sending it back to the Planning Commission and the Parks Commission for review, and including public input.
See www.FriendsoftheParks.org, Get Involved and Current Events links for a sample letter. If you don’t know who your council member is, visit the City of St. Paul website, click on City Council: http://stpaul.gov/index.aspx?nid=553, then ward map: http://stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=2169
Let’s take the time to get this right.