Mayor's News Update 8.6.10

City, Top Obama Officials Meet in Saint Paul to Discuss Great Outdoors

Here in Saint Paul, we have been leading the nation’s efforts to reintroduce the great outdoors to a youth culture that is constantly surrounded by technology. Our efforts are working and we have seen an increased interest in outdoor programs from area youth. Over 20 young people arrived at Harriet Island by canoe for the event and at the end of the program, 50 youth were sworn in as Junior Park Rangers. President Obama’s initiative expands the work already being done here in Saint Paul. Our City features more park acreage along the Mississippi River than any other city in the country. Now, through the Great River Park project, we are creating a long-term master plan to address future park development, environmental sustainability and conservation strategies and a variety of other topics around recreation and the long term vision of the Park. Here in the heart of the Midwest, we have always understood the great benefits of our natural resources. As we work to protect and conserve our environment, we must also support initiatives provide quality outdoor activities for our youth.

Saint Paul Youth Embark on Glacier National Park Adventure

Today, 12 Saint Paul youth will finish their preparations before embarking on a week-long trip to Glacier National Park. The trip is made possible through the Saint Paul Public Schools Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. The youth will leave Saturday for a week filled with hikes, lake cruises, and many other learning opportunities. In addition to the Saint Paul Public Schools, the City has partnered with Wilderness Inquiry and the U.S. National Park Service to sponsor the trip. I was lucky enough to spend two summers during college working at Glacier, so I know what great experiences the park can hold. It was those summers in the park that led me to want to offer similar experiences for our youth. Over the course of their time in Glacier National Park, these students will learn life skills and build lasting relationships with their peers and their adult chaperones. Saint Paul and Glacier National Park have ties that extend back to the early 1900s, and this program furthers that long-standing tradition. While only these 12 youth are going on the trip, the rest of us will be able to see their experiences through daily journals and video. The Star Tribune generously offered to send six flip cameras with the kids, which they will upload to their website. I wish them the best of luck on their trip, and I look forward to hearing from them upon their return.

City to Rehabilitate 200 Homes

As the housing market begins to recover, the Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority is preparing to rehabilitate and sell 200 homes through the Invest Saint Paul Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The vacant and foreclosed homes that are being acquired will undergo incredible transformations. They will meet Minnesota Green Communities rehabilitation standards, and have been evaluated for energy efficiency through the Xcel Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. While all homes are expected to be rehabilitated and sold between 2010 and 2012, we are more importantly restoring the confidence of our residents in their neighborhoods. This initiative is made possible through use of funding from federal Neighborhood Stabilization Programs, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 When we started Invest Saint Paul in 2007, we wanted to assist communities who had seen years of disinvestment, and this project is a perfect example of neighborhoods that are being changed for the better. These houses currently stand as a reminder of the tough economic times we find ourselves in. Rehabilitating and selling these homes is the next step as we position Saint Paul to lead the way out of the recession.

City Kicks-off Great River Park Development

Saint Paul is blessed with natural resources. One of our most important resources is our 17-mile Mississippi corridor. In 2009, the City received funding to create a plan to further develop this corridor. Now, we are asking for your input as we work to envision a Great River Park. On Tuesday, August 17, there will be a Great River Park Picnic and Master Planning Kick-off at Wigington Pavilion on Harriet Island. You are invited to stop by and learn about the Great River Park planning effort, to share your vision and become involved in this next step of shaping the Mississippi River valley. In addition, we will be premiering “The River is Life,” a new documentary by Phillip Hullquist and Ryan Jeanes which depicts their journey as they paddle the entire length of the Mississippi River. Over the next year, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation will work with national and local experts to complete the Great River Park Master Plan. The Park will then be developed through a process considering ecological restoration, urban design and sustainable parks planning, to create an outdoor space that is unique to Saint Paul. To stay informed about the development of our greatest natural resource, and to make sure your opinions are heard, come out to Harriet Island on August 17. To RSVP, email or call 651.293.6960.

2011 Budget Address

Finally, I would like to take a moment to invite you to the 2011 Budget Address. In my remarks, I will present a roadmap for the City during the coming year. The speech will be at noon on Wednesday, August 11, at Saint Paul Fire Station Number 1. If you would like to attend, please contact the Mayor's Officeto RSVP or call 651-266-8510. You will also be able to watch the address live on Channel 18 and online at I look forward to seeing you all there.