This newsletter is the start of bi-monthly updates that my office will be sending out to let you know what is happening in our neighborhood and city. Please feel free to share with your friends and neighbors. I hope you’ll keep tuning in to see the exciting, innovative, and collaborative things happening in Ward Three. And, as always, please feel free to contact my office any time with questions, concerns or comments.
Councilmember Chris Tolbert
Spring has sprung and with the brutal winter we had our roads are a little worse for wear. Our public works crews have been working serious overtime to keep our roads safe. The wet conditions and the changing temperatures we saw at the start of April made asphalt patching less effective. Luckily, with drier weather we’ve been able to fill and keep filled many more spots.
Potholes are a side effect of a larger problem; the failure by the city and the state over the past several decades to invest in infrastructure, like roads and bridges and the basic things a city needs to function. Funding for infrastructure is not flashy, it doesn’t make a good headline, but it is essential. We are an old city, with old roads, but that is not an excuse for the shape our streets are in. Investing in our roads is one of my top priorities and something that I will continue to fight for.
One road that badly needs to be reconstructed is Randolph Avenue. Randolph Avenue is owned by Ramsey County. The County plans to use its County and State Aid Highway Fund Allotment to reconstruct the crumbling street in the summers of 2015 and 2016. While I don’t have a vote in this project I think improving Randolph Avenue will improve business and property values along the street. I am encouraging the County to work with each business owner to create individual access plans to mitigate any business loss during construction.
When my parents moved to Saint Paul 32 years ago it was because of the great schools, the great libraries, the strong communities and the vibrant neighborhoods. Today families move to Saint Paul for the same reasons. We are seeing an influx of people moving back to the city after a sojourn to the suburbs and I could not be more thrilled. New residents bring new ideas, new jobs, new taxpayers and new friends.
New residents are looking for modern housing that will accommodate their growing families. We are seeing an influx of single-family home additions and complete tear-downs and reconstruction in Mac-Groveland and Highland Park.
Unfortunately, the new constructionhas caused headaches over poorly managed construction sites and concern about the size of homes being built. So right now we are faced with the question: how do we create new housing in Saint Paul while preserving the traditions and charm that drew people to the city in the first place?
Here’s what I’m doing:
· Working with the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections to create a Saint Paul Residential Construction Management Agreement which would require that a contractor review the construction management ordinances before beginning work and sign that they understand and will comply.
· Authorizing the city’s Planning and Economic Development department to conduct a zoning study to look at the heights of these new and remodeled homes. From this we hope to determine what, if any, procedures must be put in place to better protect adjacent homes.
· Writing an ordinance requiring notification of neighbors prior to any demolition/rebuild or large remodel project.
· Introducing an ordinance requiring a license for dumpster companies to ensure that waste is being handled properly.
Saint Paul is growing bigger and stronger, but our character is staying the same. To find out more about what ordinances are currently in place and what my office is working on please check out this fact sheet my office has put together.
On April 23 I had the pleasure of honoring two local Ward 3 legends: Kristi Tschida and Larry Norder.
Kristi Tschida ran the Discovery Club program at Expo School for 23 years. She was a caregiver and teacher to thousands of students including myself who needed a safe and nurturing place to go before and after school and during the summer. She helped make those extra hours not just fun, but educational. This spring she is retiring after 26 years with Saint Paul Public Schools. Past, present and future students will miss her but they will continue to be able to enjoy the wonderful community that she has created. To honor Kristi’s many years of great work the City Council proclaimed Sunday, April 27, 2014 Kristi Tschida day in Saint Paul.
Larry Norder was a leader for Highland Little League. He coached the Cardinals for six years and remained dedicated to preserving and improving the Highland Little League fields. He was so dedicated that in 1994 the Babe Ruth field was renamed Norder Field. For the past 10 years Larry Norder served as the Tournament Director of the Highland Fest Baseball Tournament. On November 23, 2013 Larry passed away with his family at his side. To honor his leadership and passion for the Highland Little League the City Council proclaimed May 4, 2014 Larry Norder Day in Saint Paul.
Growing up the library was an important part of my family, which is why I could not be more proud to serve as Chair of the Saint Paul Public Library Board. Since being elected to Chair in February 2014 I have become more active in what is happening at all the libraries across the city. This summer to further my understanding and involvement I am visiting each library in Saint Paul. I cannot wait to visit these important hubs of learning, entertainment and enrichment across the city. Check out my Facebook page to see my library visit schedule- maybe I will bump into you at your favorite spot.
Thursday, May 15th I had the opportunity to meet some of the people who help our libraries run at the Annual Library Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. I had the opportunity to welcome the crowd and tell them about my experience growing up with a mother who looked for any opportunity she could find to foster a love of reading in my brother and me. Any new topic I mentioned she would immediately head to the Highland Library and stock up on books about that topic hoping that I would see them where she placed them in front of the TV and disregard my video games for an evening. It was inspiring to see the hundreds of people from across the metro area who give their time to support our libraries.
I am excited as Library Board Chair to be a part of renaming the Central Library the “George Latimer Central Library”. Growing up in Saint Paul, Mayor Latimer was always the leader you looked up to and I’m proud to have his name and legacy made permanent with this honor. Mayor Latimer has spent his life increasing opportunities for all families, just like our Saint Paul Public Libraries. On June 10th there was a public unveiling of the new plaque at Central Library. It was attended by a couple hundred people including such dignitaries as former Governor Wendy Anderson, former Saint Paul Mayors Larry Cohen and Jim Schiebel, and former Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraiser.
The construction at Highland Park Library is on schedule to be reopened this fall. I cannot wait to see the new and improved amenities such as the teen center, the reading garden and the refreshed community center. This important neighborhood resource will better be able to meet the needs and wants of our community. Check out the Saint Paul Public Library's Renovations page to see a cool video of the project and continuing construction photos.
No longer will Horace Mann students be turned away from the playground on rainy days because of major flooding. On Wednesday, May 7, the City Council approved $15,000 in Neighborhood STAR funds to improve water drainage and surface conditions at the Horace Mann playground and rejuvenate old and broken equipment. The Horace Mann PTA made a strong push to secure the funds; they raised $29,300 in matching funds and lobbied local businesses, parents and Saint Paul Public Schools. The construction will occur this June and July- displacing 80 Discovery Club participants rather than the 320 students who use the playground daily during the school year. When the playground is finished it will continue to be a vibrant part of not just the school, but the surrounding community. Thank you to Jennifer Schumacher, the Horace Mann PTA president, Rebeca Escalante, and the rest of the Horace Mann team for helping make this possible.
Summer will soon be here, and many people are finding their way to the Highland Park Aquatic Center to enjoy it. Located at 1840 Edgecumbe Road, this park features the splash pad (pictured above), aquatic climbing wall, water slide, and lap pool. Open swim hours are:
Mon-Fri: Noon-8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 11a.m.-7 p.m.
For more pictures and info visit the city's link or the aquatic center's official facebook page.