July 09, 2018 06:40 PM
City leaders in St. Paul could soon vote on the possible sale of the old public safety annex building downtown and that decision will affect the future of Pedro Park—a little piece of greenspace at the corner of 10th Street East and Robert Street North that's become a red-hot issue.
"It's something pretty, it adds a little to your day," Elissa Severseike said as she was eating lunch in one of the blue chairs at the park. She said she works nearby and often eats lunch outside in the park when the weather is nice.
But for some other neighbors of the park, it comes with mixed feelings.
"The problem is, it's a constant reminder of all the things that were promised that aren't happening," Rod Halvorson said, with the group Friends of Pedro Park Expansion.
Halvorson said the land was donated to the city by the Pedro family in 2009 with the expectation it would eventually be developed into a city park more than twice the current size. But now, instead of demolishing the old public safety annex building to make room as was once the plan, city leaders are considering selling the building to developer Ackerberg Group to rehab it into offices, meaning Pedro Park would stay the same size.
"It's great to have that reconstruction but in a world when there are so many buildings and concrete it's sad we would lose a little bit of green we have around as well," Severseike said.
Ackerberg has offered $1 million to make improvements to the existing park. The city now has two proposals for what the improved park could look like. But those were drawn up by a group after many neighborhood representatives dropped out – because they were told a larger park wouldn't be considered.
Halvorson said it seems like the city is going back on a deal and contradicting published plans in St. Paul's 2008 comprehensive plan for a larger park, which might have enticed some people to move to this area.
"Oh. We've changed our mind because we're short of money right now," Halvorson said, referencing his perspective of the city's position.
"The development of the Public Safety Annex and improvements to Pedro Park continue to present an important opportunity for downtown St. Paul," Mayor Melvin Carter wrote to 5 EYEWITNESS News in a statement.
"While there are many visions for the best path forward, we owe it to ourselves to continue exploring what this block could look like – including fully vetting the design concept for the park that was recently developed by our Pedro Park Design Advisory Committee."
Carter's office added there will be two more meetings where the public can comment on the plans. The dates for those meetings haven't been set.
"I see this park and it makes me sad when I see it and think of all the things it could be," Halvorson said.
Updated: July 09, 2018 06:40 PM
Created: July 09, 2018 03:49 PM
Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company