Happy spring from Ward 3!

Ward 3 Newsletter

Chris Tolbert Larger

Chris Tolbert

310-C City Hall

15 Kellogg Blvd., West

Saint Paul, MN  55102

Email:   Ward3@ci.stpaul.mn.us

Phone: (651) 266-8630 

Ward 3 website

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    Ward 3

    Ward 3 covers the southwest corner of the city, extending from the West End to Fort Snelling.  The ward includes large green spaces along the river bank and in Highland Park, and it's home to some of the city's numerous colleges.

    Happy spring!

    Regardless of the 2.5 inches of snow we received on Sunday night, spring is indeed here. Asphalt trucks were out on Saint Paul streets last week filling potholes and our parks are already teaming with families ready to enjoy our beautiful city. If you see nasty potholes, please help the City by reporting their locations at (651) 266-9700, potholes@ci.stpaul.mn.us, or by using the City’s Saint Paul Connect IPhone and Android App.

    This spring is a busy time for Ward 3. We have TONS of activity happening in Highland Village and the Shepard-Davern Neighborhoods. We also have the start of another construction season, this time with our Residential Construction Management Acknowledgement in place to crack down on bad neighbor contractors. Additionally, the City is working around the clock to make sure we have a strong community-led vision for the Ford Site redevelopment. As Ford looks to go to market in the Fall/Winter of 2015, we are poised to achieve a great development. Read on to learn of the work we’re doing and how you can get involved.

    As always, please call or email my office any time with questions, comments or concerns. I’m always happy to hear from you.



    Chris Tolbert

    Saint Paul City Councilmember, Ward 3



    Ward 3 Residential Construction Standards Released for Public Hearing

    Last August I requested that the City’s Planning and Economic Development Department study the new, large homes being built in Highland Park and Mac-Groveland. While these homes fit the specifications spelled out in the City’s zoning code, many neighbors felt they were out of character with the surrounding homes and blocked crucial air and light access. City Planner Mike Richardson spent several months investigating these new homes and what exactly was causing the “out of character” feeling.

    What Mike found was what neighbors had been speculating; the new homes are significantly larger than the current housing stock in the neighborhood. At the end of 2013 the average square footage of a single-family home in Macalester Groveland and Highland Park was 1,590 square feet. Homes built between 2005 and 2013 in the same area had an average square footage of 2,673 feet, an increase of 68%. This increase in square footage impacted things such as lot coverage, sidewall height, overall building height and side-yard setbacks. To reign in these large overbearing homes, Mike recommended eight changes to the Zoning Code, including a lower maximum height, a maximum lot coverage for all residential structures (homes and accessory buildings) and required sidewall articulation.

    This February his findings and proposed zoning changes were brought to the Neighborhood Planning Committee of the Planning Commission.  Both the Neighborhood Planning Committee and the full Planning Commission had reservations about recommending changes to the zoning code just for Ward 3. On Friday, March 27th, the Planning Commission released the recommendations applied citywide for public review. A public hearing will be held on Friday, May 8th at 8:30AM in the basement (Room 40) of City Hall (15 Kellogg Blvd W.). Please come and weigh in on these recommendations. You can read more about Mike’s findings and the most updated recommendations here.

    Right Track Applications Set New Record

    right track
    Right Track's packed Jobs Fair at Oxford Community Center.

    Saint Paul’s Right Track Program has once again flown past their previous records. This year the City’s youth jobs program received 2,193 applications, up from 1,725 in 2014. Through additional funding I secured from the Saint Paul Children’s Collaborative we’ve been able to expand and are looking forward to providing more Saint Paul students with their first professional experience. If you know a business or company that would be interested in learning more about partnering with Right Track, please contact Trenton Henspeter, the City of Saint Paul’s Right Track Manager.


    Interviewing a Right Track Applicant at Thursday's Job Fair.

    2015 Construction Updates


    Summer, aka the season of rerouted and backed up traffic, is right around the corner. This year we are fortunate to see a huge amount of infrastructure investment across the ward with portions of Saint Clair Avenue, Randolph Avenue and Ford Parkway being reconstructed. I am thrilled that so many streets are being improved, but realize it will cause many headaches and long wait times. Again, please call my office with concerns or suggestions. We are always open to ideas and input.

    St. Clair Avenue

    St. Clair from Snelling to Victoria was originally planned for a mill and overlay this year, however in talks with Saint Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS) the City found that there are lead services that need to be replaced. To maximize the work and minimize costs the City and SPRWS will be working together on a full reconstruction where those lead services are (about 1/3 of the project area), the rest of the project will remain a mill and overlay. We realize there will be significant traffic disruption with Randolph closed, but the City has planned it out so that the intersections of Lexington and Hamline are only closed for a couple of days. Also, to minimize disruption, the project won’t start until after Grand Old Day. As part of the Saint Paul Bike Plan that was passed last week an enhanced shared bike lane will be added on St. Clair from Hamline to Victoria. This will not require any parking removal or road expansion.

    Randolph Avenue

    Ramsey County will complete Phase One of the Randolph Avenue Reconstruction from Brimhall to Syndicate this summer. The project will be divided into 3-block areas to minimize road closures and disruption to neighbors and businesses. This reconstruction will repair water mains, sanitary and storm sewers, and update curbs and sidewalks. New, lantern-style lighting will also be installed along the avenue to improve pedestrian safety.

    Ford Parkway

    Ramsey County is also reconstructing Ford Parkway from Howell Street to Snelling Avenue this summer. Based on feedback from the community and input from the City of Saint Paul, a road layout including seven-foot parking lanes, six-foot bike lanes, twelve-foot driving lanes and an eight-foot planted median was created. This lane configuration will increase the road width one foot on each side. The majority of existing boulevard trees will remain.

    A-Line Bus Rapid Transit

    Metro Transit will spend this summer constructing the 20 planned stops for the new A-Line Bus Rapid Transit Line that runs down Snelling Avenue from Rosedale Mall to Ford Parkway and ends at the 46th Street Station which connects to the Blue Line. In the Village you may have noticed a few spots where new sidewalks were not constructed- that is where the A-Line stops will be. The City has worked closely with Metro Transit to match materials and designs to the new sidewalks. The rest of the remaining stops along Ford Parkway will be constructed in tandem with the County’sreconstruction project. For updates on construction, sign up for the A-LineNewsletter.

    Ford Redevelopment Research Trip


    Last week I was fortunate to join Mayor Coleman, City Staff, members of the Ford Jobs and Energy Task Forces and others on a grant-funded trip to Berlin, Copenhagen and Malmo. The purpose of the trip was to bring public and private stakeholders together to envision the possibilities of what the Ford Site could be. It was a whirlwind tour having visited 10 different brownfield developments in five days, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.

    In addition to this most recent trip, I have been touring brownfield redevelopment sites throughout the States since taking office in 2012. I have seen the Stapleton development in Denver, the former airport development, Austin Mueller, in Austin, TX, former automotive plants in Wilmington, DE, Newark, DE, Baltimore, MD, Norfolk, VA, and Janesville, WI, and industrial redevelopments in Lacrosse, WI, Baltimore, MD, Minneapolis and Arden Hills. All these visits have been important learning opportunities; I have seen what’s gone well for each redevelopment and what in retrospect should have been done differently. I plan to continue working with city staff and the community to make sure we learn from the mistakes and triumphs of other developments while making the Ford Site Development truly and uniquely our own.

    Make sure to attend the upcoming Ford Site meetings and help us create an amazing development.

    Bike, Pedestrian and Transit - April 16, 2015 7PM at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church 700 Snelling Ave S.

    Streets and Parking - April 30, 2015 7PM at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church 700 Snelling Ave S.