Regional Public Input Kick-off!

Monday, November 10, the City of St. Paul kicked off a new round of citizen feedback on the Ford Site, with a public forum at St. Catherine’s on the development planning progress and design priorities. This will mark a fresh start to the Ford Site Task Force meetings, as the City works with public, private, and citizen stakeholders to, in Mayor Coleman’s words, “set the site up for success.”

Coleman painted a picture of the historic opportunity at the Ford Site, as a chance to create a fitting legacy that Highland Park, Ford, and the City are proud of, that puts Saint Paul on the map for livability, and that creates a positive regional impact on the economy.

The auditorium applauded the Ford Site Task Force for sticking with the development over six years of community input thus far, as Merritt Clap Smith, Saint Paul’s Principal City Planner, outlined the year ahead, before the site goes to market. This timeline was verified by Steve Bill of Ford Land, who oversees the decommissioning, which now primarily entails soil testing and concrete recycling.

Distilled from years of previous research and public input, Jonathan Sage-Martinson, the new Planning and Economic Development Director, laid out the City’s priorities that are now guiding further studies and citizen engagement. These included: a mix of uses and activity, housing variety, jobs and tax base, energy and sustainability, transportation choice, and parks and amenities.

These development priorities articulated by the City are highly aligned with the ARISE priorities, including the emphasis on family sustaining jobs, through ARISE’s concept of Active Open Space includes more explicit emphasis on urban gardening and farming on-site.

It was fascinating to see how demographic shifts and public desires are calling for mixed-use community design. Retirees and younger generations especially, want easy access to diverse resources, options for transportation and housing, and features that build community.

We believe a thriving live-work-recreate community is possible, and of course, as Council Member Tolbert stated “where there will be trade-offs between uses, that is where we will need public input.”

Public input opportunities this year will range from open meetings specific to each of the studies to online forums like Open Saint Paul. There will also be one additional regional public meeting in 2015.

Presentations and video of the event are available online.