Note to Historic SW and Folwell neighbors regarding St. Mary’s park

Update: Per RPU Board Chair Jerry Williams, this will not be on Tuesday’s agenda.

The “city” is considering a 3.5 million gallon water reservoir at St. Mary’s Park and I have a number of concerns about the process.  I don’t like the fact that many neighbors found out about this by reading the newspaper.  I don’t like how this process has seemingly played out in private, despite the fact that we own the utility.  I don’t like how neighbors have not been asked for comment or ideas.  While I currently have a conflicting meeting, I am going to try to head to the RPU board meeting on Tuesday April 24, 2012 to get more information.

Many of you want to know where I stand on the issue.  This is a little difficult because even as the councilman for the area I have not been invited to the discussions.  My philosophy is that St. Mary’s park is an asset that we own.  I will never support any action of which the net result is that the asset is made worse.  This was my philosophy when it was suggested that we give away a portion of Soldier’s Field.  Not surprisingly no city council members have come out in support of that.

I really don’t know what has been decided, what is planned, and how flexible those decisions are.  I don’t know why engineers are suggesting that this would be a good place as opposed to somewhere more on the edge of the city.

There actually are potential ways to put a reservoir in the park and have it be an asset.  For example if it was put back in the NW part of the park, partially into the ground, with a green roof, and then filled around the edges, we could create an elevated green space in an underused part of the park with a great picnic area and an iconic view of the city.  That would cost more money, but again, hurting a park to save money is not OK in my book.

In speaking with RPU they did say that neighbors were notified of a meeting at CUDE.  Apparently neighbors within 500 ft. of the park were sent notices.  Also a notice was sent to the neighborhood association.  However, a downtown meeting during work hours is not what I consider a sufficient chance for input.  [edit: I am told this was at least an evening meeting] There will also be a park board meeting, but again I think the neighborhood deserves to have a meeting in the neighborhood.

I would like to see the existing reservoir removed.  I am interested in what the neighborhood thinks about the existing tower.  I see it as a historic landmark, and though it is not used (except for cell towers) I wouldn’t mind seeing that stay.  I believe the existing reservoir is about 1 million gallons.  To visualize how big a 3.5 million gallon tank would be, picture the existing tank, the same height, but 87% wider.  (OK math teachers, you can check my math)…

One thing that I can say with absolute certainty is that the more you are involved the better the outcome will be.  We had a number of successes on 6th street which would not have happened with out citizen involvement.

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3 comments

  1. This is a horrible idea. Please oppose this whole heartedly. Also, I love the old watertower. I tell my kids it is where Rapunzel lives and it acts as a neighborhood landmark.

  2. I live behind St. Mary’s and just learned of this issue via Facebook. This park is not just a gem to people that live in this neighborhood but I have met clinic visitors there. Families visiting a loved one at St. Mary’s have found this park to be nice refuge. What can we do to save it?

  3. Thanks Mike for your support of the park. We use it regularly and love the green space, playground, and interaction with neighbors and clinic visitors. We also like the watertower, but it is the park space that is so valuable. Please keep us posted on what we can do to voice opposition to the proposed changes.

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