Prior-Goodrich Rain Garden Planting Day, 6/8

On Saturday, June 8th our rain gardens will have their planting day! If you had a rain garden installed by the city during the RSVP project last year, then you should already have received a notice about the planting day. Here’s the schedule:

9am, Visit the Planting Tent at Groveland Recreation Center tennis courts. Meet Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) staff to pick up your plants and planting plan. You can also borrow tools if you need them.

9am-Noon, CRWD staff and volunteers from Great River Greening will be on hand throughout the Prior-Goodrich project area providing planting help and advice.

Noon-2pm, Great River Greening water trucks will visit each newly-planted garden to give it a thorough soaking.

If you have questions about the plan for your rain garden, the planting day, or the maintenance required for your garden, contact Elizabeth at CRWD, 651–644-8888.

What’s up with the curbs?

You may have noticed that some work is being done on the curbs on Lincoln Avenue. It turns out that the tree trenches were designed and specified based on an assumption that we would not be saving our ash trees on Lincoln. Of course, thanks to the effort of many neighbors, many of our ash trees were treated instead of being cut down. Unfortunately, that information did not get back to the designers of the tree trenches and as a result, many trenches were laid down immediately next to existing rescued ash trees.

Of course, the forester has pointed out that since the ashes were saved, no new tree will be planted in that close proximity and new tree trench for a new tree is required. Oops!

This is now being cleaned up. The curb cuts and tree trenches in these locations are being removed, that’s the work in progress right now.

Still to come is modification work on the remaining tree trenches. The model for the new, shallower version of these trenches has been constructed outside 2005 Lincoln, if you want to take a look. That trench has been shallowed and a different soil put on top. Once sod is replaced it should be considerably less steep and easier to mow. If you have feedback on that trench, or other questions about tree trenches on Lincoln, please contact Lisa Falk-Thompson at 651-266-6117.

In addition to the work shallowing the trenches, those that were not draining properly will be reconstructed to properly drain. All this work will be going on over the coming weeks.

RSVP meeting, 9/17

The city is mailing out notices of a meeting for Prior/Goodrich RSVP neighbors at 6pm on 9/17 at the Groveland Rec Center. Tom Stadsklev noted that any questions about the project are welcome, from assessments to lighting to rain gardens and tree trenches.

Lisa Falk-Thompson is also preparing a second letter to address many of the tree trench questions the city has been getting. A fix-up of those trenches is planned, including making them a bit shallower, making their slope gentler, and in some cases adjusting the soils used to ensure they drain properly.

Trench Troubles

A couple neighbors stopped by to talk about tree trenches over the weekend. The stench of the two trenches that are not draining properly has been noted, and some folks are also concerned about the depth of the trenches that were dug for trees.

I gave Drew McLean, our site inspector, a call today and learned that plans are afoot to shallow up the tree trenches on Lincoln Avenue. He expects that work to happen within the next two weeks. It should also address the two trenches that are not draining properly.

Drew also mentioned that questions about the trenches could be brought to a neighborhood meeting being set up by Tom Stadsklev, our project manager. That meeting will be at 6pm on Monday 9/17 at the Groveland Recreation Center. Look for details in a mailing about the project assessments that should be coming soon.

Rain Garden Update

I’ve seen some puzzled faces and been a bit puzzled myself as I’ve watched the rain gardens being built as part of our Prior/Goodrich RSVP project. Today I gave Forrest Kelley from the Capitol Region Watershed District a call and asked a few questions. I thought I’d share what I learned.

There are actually two different types of rain garden being built on Lincoln as part of the RSVP project. One is the shallow depression that will be planted with native grasses and flowers, the second is a deeper tree trench.

IMG 0654

The tree trenches have been “maximized for water retention” (in other words, made pretty deep) in order to feed the trees that will be planted there. These tree trenches are also the rain gardens being planted with regular grass sod. Right now they make the boulevard look a bit like a mini-golf course, but that will change once the trees are planted and grow larger.

IMG 0655

The native plant gardens will not get sod, they will remain a dirt boulevard for now. They will probably get some soil treatment (a few inches of special soils), but the plantings won’t arrive until Spring. Forrest said a date in the spring is being worked out by CRWD and Saint Paul, and we’ll get word of what it is once it is set, but that date is likely not till next Spring.

All of the rain gardens will get the small concrete ledge in the boulevard, next to the curb cuts. These help manage erosion and give us a place to gather up soil that might otherwise get out of the garden.

RSVP Public Art Meeting, 5/22

Regina Flanagan, Public Art Ordinance Administrator for Saint Paul, has invited residents of the Prior/Goodrich RSVP project to a meeting with artist-in-residence Marcus Young at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 1935 St. Clair Avenue, on 5/22 at 6:30pm.

Here’s the invitation:

Hello Neighborhood Residents:

You have contacted me via email or phone or we have spoken about public art at the orientation meeting last Fall for the Residential Street Vitality Program (RSVP) and you expressed interest in meeting with the artist-team that will be working on the projects for your neighborhood. Here’s your opportunity! I am pleased to report that the team has been assembled and is just starting their work. (The following notice will also be broadcast through the District Council and I request that you share it with your neighbors, too. We are hoping for a good turnout and a lively conversation. Thanks.)

We invite residents in the Davern Jefferson I and II and Prior/Goodrich (District 14 – Macalester Groveland Community Council) RSVP project areas to a get-together to talk about public art opportunities for their neighborhoods.

Please join the design team – Marcus Young, City Artist in Residence, and artists Matt Olson, Brad Kaspari and Lisa Elias – on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 1935 St. Clair Avenue (corner of Prior and St. Clair), Saint Paul, MN 55105.

In 2009, an ordinance was passed by the City setting aside one percent for public art because it strengthens public places and enhances and promotes Saint Paul’s identity as a livable and creative city and a desirable place to live, work and visit. This is the pilot year for integrating art into RSVP projects.

Marcus Young has been City Artist in Residence since 2006 and has created the popular Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk program which has touched all corners of the city, wherever sidewalks are being repaired or replaced.

The design team is just beginning their process and want to get to know the neighborhoods better. The team also wants to give residents a glimpse into how they are starting to think about public art. Like with Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk, the artists are exploring how art can be integrated systemically into street reconstruction. Later in their design process, the team will follow-up with a celebratory event that presents their design ideas.

We hope you can join us. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regina M. Flanagan, RLA, MA
Public Art Ordinance Administrator
City of Saint Paul
Offices of Financial Services
10th Floor, City Hall Annex
Saint Paul, MN 55102
P: 651-266-9159
Position funded by Public Art Saint Paul

RSVP sewer line requests due 2/10

If you would like the City of Saint Paul to repair your sewer service within the right-of-way as part of the upcoming RSVP project, Lisa Falk-Thompson asks that you get your request in to her by February 10. You may choose to have your sanitary service connection at the main replaced, or to have the connection and the service from the main to the property line replaced. The estimated costs are from $1500 to $2400, depending on what you choose to do.

Please use the Request for Sanitary Service Repair form Lisa has prepared. Any questions about this should go to her at or 651-266-6117.


Just a reminder, Lisa expects that our “Prior/Goodrich” RSVP project will be put out to bid in February and construction will run from May through November.

Both traffic calming petitions fail to gain enough support

As reported a few weeks ago, the bumpout petition for Lincoln Avenue between Cleveland and Prior was not very popular and we stopped gathering signatures after the no’s passed the 28% mark.

Now I am sad to report that the traffic circle at Lincoln and Prior also failed to gain enough support. We needed 75% of the “linear feet” of each block from the intersection. Today was the deadline and we’d reached only 68%. Again, we got 28% nos.

The thing that feels so awful is that even though over two thirds of our neighbors wanted to see a beautiful small traffic circle as a gateway to our neighborhood, we won’t have it installed. The RSVP project will leave the intersection of Lincoln and Prior as it was.

Two things really got in the way of success on the traffic circle. One was that a neighbor who lives on one of the corners was vehemently opposed the petition. (The other three corner owners supported the petition.) The other was that the owner of the large apartment building at 1940 Grand, which has substantial linear feet on Prior, refused to sign the petition. Missing those two large chunks of footage really made the mission impossible.

The galling thing is that until this Fall the threshold for petitions of this sort was 60%, a threshold we easily surpassed. City Council changed the rules, though, and trying to get three quarters agreement proved too much for our neighborhood.

I’d like to share special thanks with Joe Frank and Susan Hinze who spent many hours knocking on doors. I also appreciate all the support we got (two thirds!) and all the thoughtful concerns that were expressed along the way. It was great to get to know more neighbors through this petition drive.

RSVP Meeting to discuss traffic calming and rain gardens, 12/7

Some of us have requested a special meeting to discuss traffic calming and rain garden options that could be added to the 2012 Prior-Goodrich RSVP project. That meeting will be held 6:30-8:30pm, Wednesday, 7 December 2011 at the Hillcrest Recreation Center at 1978 Ford Parkway.

The neighbors on Lincoln Avenue will be talking about some ideas they are working on for their street, and how some of those features could be added around the rest of the neighborhood for a bigger impact on traffic. City and watershed district staff will be there to listen to the ideas and to help answer questions regarding what is feasible and what might work well for this neighborhood. Hope to see you there!

Lincoln Avenue Contacts: Eric Celeste,, 651-323-2009 and
Steve Gorg,, 651-334-7624. City Project Manager: Lisa Falk-Thompson,, 651-266-6117.

Traffic Calming as part of RSVP

About 15 Lincoln Avenue neighbors met at Eric’s house on 11/22 to discuss traffic calming options as part of the RSVP project. We were joined by our city council member Russ Stark, Public Art Administrator Regina Flanagan, and Forrest Kelley of the Capitol Region Watershed District.

We discussed options including traffic circles, bumpouts, speed bumps, pedestrian crossings, greenway, one way, public art, and rain gardens. Considering the timing of the RSVP project and the imperatives of making decisions about “concrete” quickly, we decided to focus our conversation on a traffic circle at Lincoln and Prior, bumpouts along Lincoln, and rain gardens.

Read on for details! Continue reading