Updates coming to Phalen Regional Park


graphics courtesy of City of St. Paul • Following a study of traffic and usage in Phalen Regional Park, St. Paul has identified some changes that would improve access to the park. The city will finish construction documents this summer and plan to do construction on the lots near the beach area, as seen above, picnic pavilion, as seen below, and lakeside center in the spring of 2019.

graphics courtesy of City of St. Paul • A study looking at improvements to make at the park is included in Phalen-Keller Master Plan, which leads management of Phalen, Round, Keller and Spoon lakes.

graphics courtesy of City of St. Paul • Work would include resurfacing and repainting the lots, which includes the lakeside center lot pictured above, to add a few more parking spots and create better trail connections from the lots.

A few parking changes are being planned for Phalen Regional Park within the next year.

The City of St. Paul recently finished the Phalen Regional Park Multimodal Transportation study, which looked into traffic counts, parking, usage of the park’s facilities and possible park enhancements identified by its users.

While city planners were originally going to make improvements to the parking lots and traffic flow this summer, the city pushed its timeline back; construction will take place during the spring of 2019 to avoid clashing with summer or fall events at the park. 

The first phase of improvements will be made to parking lots near the beach house, the lakeside center and the picnic pavilion, some of the busiest areas in the park, as identified by the study.

The changes won’t be major — the parking lots will be resurfaced and then be painted to create uniform parking stalls. A few extra parking stalls will be added as well. Trail connections from parking lots will be made more accessible and slight adjustments will be made to the flow of traffic through the parking areas.

Project engineers estimate the work on the three parking lots combined will cost around $900,000, which is funded by the Legacy Parks and Trail Fund, a part of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

 

Maintaining a healthy park and system

The need to conduct the study and make facility improvements was based off the Phalen-Keller Master Plan, which guides regional authorities’ — like St. Paul and Ramsey County decisions on changes and management of the parks in the lake system.

The plan encompasses not only Lake Phalen, but also Round, Keller and Spoon lakes over the border in Maplewood, which are all connected through a series of trails.

Some improvements mentioned in the master plan have already taken place at Phalen Regional Park, such as the recently installed splash pad near the beach and the restoration of shoreline habitat around the lake. 

According to the Metropolitan Council, the park serves about 1 million people a year. 

Overall, the study consisted of a combination of community engagement events, surveys and traffic counts to identify needs and where changes could be made to help with overall flow and ease of access within the park.

 

CLICK FOR LARGER: BEACH MAP

CLICK FOR LARGER: PICNIC PAVILLION MAP

CLICK FOR LARGER: LAKESIDE MAP

 

Overcapacity

According to the study, traffic counts were conducted during various times in July and August 2017, both during weekdays and the weekend. 

The study found that the parking lots most in demand were those near the lakeside center, the picnic pavilion and the southeast lot. All three were over 100 percent occupancy, meaning the demand exceeded the number of spots available. The lot nearest to the stone bridge was the fourth highest in demand with it seeing an average of 86 percent occupancy. 

These averages included traffic during peak demand, which the study found to be around midday on Saturdays. 

Counts were not conducted during any major events, but the study did note that event organizers are required to provide shuttle options to account for unusually high numbers of visitors. 

During a variety of community engagement events and surveys, feedback collected from park users included the need for additional lighting to improve the perception of safety and security, improvements to trail paving, improved markings that direct one-way movement for bicycle paths, the need for bicycle parking, separated walking and biking trails, permanent restroom facilities, additional litter receptacles and drinking fountains, and pedestrian improvements at Arcade Street.

During a November 2017 open house, visitors also mentioned the need to change the path around the lake to include two-way traffic. All traffic — both pedestrian and cyclists — on the path currently travels in a clockwise motion around the lake. 

 

Summer changes

The city will finish construction documents for the three parking lots this summer and put the project out to bid during the winter of 2018-2019, said St. Paul Parks and Recreation spokesperson Clare Cloyd. 

The study also identified changes needed near the boat launch, the southeast parking lot and at the Arcade Street entrance, but those changes and any others based off user feedback will be done at a later time as more funding becomes available. 

While the parking lot construction will wait a year, the China Friendship Garden will begin to take shape this summer. 

Following a gift exchange with the city of Changsha, China — which the city of St. Paul has a sister-city relationship with — Changsha will be sending a replica of its Aiwan Pavilion to be constructed by Chinese craftsmen in the park this summer. 

For updates about both projects, visit www.stpaul.gov.


 

– Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto

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