Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Honors

2009 MRPA Sustainability Awards Feature 2 Saint Paul Projects

SAINT PAUL - Over the years, the Saint Paul Park and Recreation Department has established itself as a national leader in innovative forward-thinking centered on environmental stewardship. Earlier today, two examples of this leadership, the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Shuttle as well as the Moss Conditioning System, were awarded the 2009 Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) Awards of Excellence. The Moss System, or the Pool Green Initiative, will also be receiving the state’s highest honor – the Tommy Johnson award.

“These awards recognize the Parks and Recreation Department’s dedication toward offering higher quality services in more efficient ways, while investing in long-term sustainable solutions. Their efforts to embrace new and environmentally friendly technologies further Saint Paul as a national leader in sustainability,” Mayor Coleman said.

Saint Paul received both Awards of Excellence from Minnesota Parks and Recreation Association’s Sustainability category. The MRPA program recognizes agencies or organizations in Minnesota for outstanding achievements in parks, recreation and leisure services that have had projects which resulted in substantial change or improvement. The Sustainability category specifically focuses on practices that develop environmental responsibility through energy efficiency, water conservation, "green" building design or any operational practice that reduce your agency's impact on the earth and/or increases efficiencies.

The Pool Green Initiative won the Tommy Johnson Award, the highest award possible for being innovative, futuristic, and revolutionary in establishing future trends. This initiative featured the nation’s first two municipal pool sphagnum moss conditioning system projects at the Highland Park Aquatic Center and the Great River Water Park. After just one season of use, both pools have seen their Chlorine use cut in half, Cyanuric Acid use discontinued, reduced water consumption and improved look and function of various aquatic features.

Creative Water Solutions, a Minnesota based company, developed the moss conditioning system that has previously been in use in personal pools throughout the country, but never tried in a high bather-load municipal pool setting. Using Sphagnum Moss, the conditioning system filters and naturally cleans pool water, thus reducing the need for expensive and non-environmentally friendly chemicals. This makes for a more natural swimming experience and is better for swimmer’s skin, hair, swimsuit and eyes. The new system will not only provide for an improved impact on the environment and a better overall swimming experience, but due to the reduced need for chemicals, it also results in significant cost savings for the City.

The Como Zoo & Conservatory Shuttle offers a free service where visitors can avoid parking hassles. Parking is located at the off-site lot on the south side of Como Avenue across from the State Fair’s Warner Coliseum. The shuttle runs continuously 9:30am – 6:30pm daily, May 1 – September 30.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory Background

For over 100 years, Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and Como Zoo in Saint Paul, Minnesota has charmed, educated and entertained millions of children and adults while fostering an appreciation of the natural world, helping to make Saint Paul the Most Livable City in America. The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is open 365 days; 10am-6pm from April 1-October 1 and 10am-4pm from October 2-March 31. Admission to both the Como Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is always free and a voluntary donation is appreciated.

Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Aquatics Background

Parks and Recreation operates two aquatic centers, the outdoor Highland Park Aquatic Center and the year round indoor Great River Water Park. Both facilities offer programs for all ages that include: swimming & diving lessons, water aerobics, lap swimming, junior lifeguarding, and general open swimming.

Additional details can be found online at