Mayor Coleman, Councilmember Noecker Announce New Laws and Investment to Enhance Saint Paul Skyways

City of Saint Paul requested $12 million in State Bonding Bill for Higher Ground to provide supportive housing for homeless

SAINT PAUL – Mayor Chris Coleman today (May 24, 2017) announced preliminary recommendations of the Skyway Vitality Work Group, co-chaired by Deputy Mayor Kristin Beckmann and Councilmember Rebecca Noecker. The group, comprised of members from the business community, the City of Saint Paul, community organizations and local law enforcement, has been working for three months on ways to enhance the skyway experience in downtown Saint Paul.

“As downtown Saint Paul continues to grow and thrive, we must remain a safe and welcoming place,” said Mayor Coleman. “Saint Paul residents, business owners, and government agencies are working together to ensure the continued vitality of downtown. Whether it’s clarifying our security procedures in the skyway or investing in supportive housing for our homeless, we remain committed to enhancing the safety, security and vibrancy for all people in Saint Paul.”

The first of two proposed ordinances announced today clarify permissible conduct in the skyway, giving security and law enforcement personnel greater transparency in how they enforce impermissible conduct. The second proposed ordinance sets clearer standards and minimum requirements for what basic building security shall be provided by building owners, including routine security sweeps of public spaces.

“Our officers have been and will continue to be proactive in working to keep the skyways safe—but they can’t do it alone,” said Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. “It takes everyone coming to the table and working together to find solutions. That’s what’s happening thanks to the work of the Mayor, our Downtown Beat, the Skyway Vitality Work Group and everyone else who has a vested interest in keeping the city safe.”

Among the proactive approaches the City of Saint Paul has undertaken to enhance vitality in the skyways, the Skyway Vitality Work Group held its first meeting in February, with a focus on identifying solutions and action plans that address safety and maintenance; increase access to information; establish understanding of ownership and responsibilities; and implement improvements that are recommended by the Skyway Governance Advisory Committee.

“Keeping our downtown safe, secure and vibrant is critical - and it's one of my top priorities as a Councilmember,” said Councilmember Noecker. “Everyone who lives, works, plays, goes to school and otherwise enjoys our fantastic city needs to feel safe while doing so. I am encouraged by the progress that we have made in just a few months by working together and I am optimistic that with a refreshed commitment among all of those responsible for skyway security and vibrancy, we will create a skyway system that we can all be proud of.”

The group, made up of representatives from the Skyway Governance Committee, BOMA, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Community Ambassadors, Metro Transit, business and building owners,  youth and homeless service organizations, downtown residents, City Council and the Mayor’s Office, will continue its work to improve skyway safety and advance the collective work of public and private stakeholders on the vitality of Saint Paul’s skyways.

DSI Director Cervantes said: “With the renewed cooperation and commitment from the City and our downtown building owners we will continue to improve safety and enjoyment of the skyway. 

In addition to the work of the Skyway Vitality Group, the City of Saint Paul has been working in partnership to address the City’s homeless population. Working with Ramsey County and nonprofit service providers, the City of Saint Paul is committed to a second phase of construction at Higher Ground, which will provide emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing for hundreds of additional people. The City of Saint Paul made a $12 million request of the State of Minnesota to help fund this project.