In April Sustain Ward 3 contacted mayoral candidates Melvin Carter, Elizabeth Dickinson, Tom Goldstein, Pat Harris, and Dai Thao and presented them with a questionnaire about their vision for the future of the Ford Site redevelopment.

As of May 19, 2017 only Elizabeth Dickinson had submitted a response.

[Update: May 20, 2017 ] Melvin Carter III has submitted his response.

[Update: May 26, 2017] Pat Harris has submitted his response.

[Update: June 1, 2017] Dai Thao has submitted his response.

The following are all candidate responses:

Sustain Ward 3 Ford Site Questionnaire:

Melvin Carter

"The Ford Site is a once in a lifetime opportunity to put Saint Paul on the map by integrating a new livable, walkable neighborhood into our historic community. Years of community discussions have already taken place around the Ford site which have produced thoughtful proposed site plans that include many elements I support. As mayor, my goal will be to continue creating a framework for development that does three things: harnesses market investment, strengthens our tax base, and authentically weaves new residents and businesses into the existing neighborhoods surrounding the site. For a generation, the Ford Plant offered living wage jobs for families throughout our community. As we plan for the future, we must honor this site’s history as an engine of economic growth and seize the opportunity to make the Ford Site an even greater asset for generations to come."

Elizabeth Dickinson

"I support the key principles guiding the Ford site redevelopment plan, including ensuring: a mix of uses and activity; housing variety; jobs and tax base; energy and sustainability; transportation choice; and parks and amenities. I especially want the development to be a desirable, sustainable, beautiful space in which to live, work and play, that welcomes all age, income, and ethnic dographics, and feels organic to the rest of the neighborhood."

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"My vision for the Ford site is a legacy development that truly provides opportunity for all. The site should include a range of housing, parks and open space, exemplary bike/walk facilities that fully connect the site to the neighborhood, accessible transit, jobs, and retail opportunity. It should recognize the history and livability of Saint Paul and it should fit within the framework of an existing, vibrant residential and commercial neighborhood. "

Dai Thao

"I envision a Ford site that preserves the neighborhood’s history as an economic engine, protects the environment and community, and promotes equity and access in the neighborhood. We have a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity to create and shape the future of St. Paul with this site. As mayor, I am committed to those values and moving our City towards achieving those on the Ford Site.

We have an opportunity at the Ford Site to make it an economic engine again. Since 1990, Ramsey County experienced a 47% decline in goods‑producing employment but a 19% increase in service‑providing jobs. We know that wages in the service industry has remained stagnant, and in order to retain and expand our workforce to contribute to the City’s tax base, we need good paying jobs. Creating green and technology jobs at this site is our opportunity. We also have an opportunity to do more to protect our environment by building sustainably ‑ creating carbon neutral communities, reducing green‑house gas emissions, and building solar panels, steam power, hydro power, and above ground storm water treatments. This also means that we need to balance density with access to green spaces throughout the development that I will advocate for and support.

Furthermore, we need access and equity to create a sustainable community. We need mixed‑income housing communities so that people of all incomes can choose to live there, and we need transit‑oriented development, mixed transit options that don’t only promote and support single‑occupant motor vehicles. We can achieve this by incorporating bike lanes, complete streets, and more transit lines."

Melvin Carter

"City staff put in hundreds, if not thousands, of hours engaging with families and businesses in the neighborhood surrounding the Ford Site. I think, overall, they did a great job of balancing the need to take advantage of the opportunity the site provides while also weaving new development into the neighborhoods. Saint Paul’s growing population, coupled with region-wide shortages in housing, demands greater density not just at these large sites but also along our major corridors. Creating a stronger tax base through common sense density improvements will help us invest those tax dollars right back into the public services and assets that our neighborhoods rely on, and I support zoning that accomplishes these goals."

Elizabeth Dickinson

"I would like to see more specificity and rigorous commitment to incorporating energy efficiency and renewable energy in buildings. What if we asked for carbon neutral development and LEEDS certifications? I would also like to ensure the parkland dedication be enforced and not be eroded through cash in lieu of."

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"The city’s zoning plan, which was released for public review in late 2016, provides a framework for the community conversation. The plan has drawn a variety of responses from our community and we need to respect and respond to the concerns that have been raised. That is, after all, why there is public review. As the City considers the future of the Ford site, it is imperative to understand and mitigate any negative impacts of potential redevelopment on the surrounding neighborhood. I recognize that this is not a typical vacant industrial site. The Ford site is a once in a generation opportunity for the City and the surrounding neighborhood. When I was a council member, I felt that not all of the voices were being represented in City Hall, to include environmental and sustainability issues, transit, local and citywide impact, and many more. Thus, I spearheaded the Ford Plant Site Task Force in 2007 with a charge to initiate a planning process for the re-use of the site and a corresponding charge to assess the impact of proposals to the surrounding community. I was at the forefront of virtually every process in place to analyze the site and create what should be a legacy opportunity for the City. Having seen the impact of similar projects across the country, I have come to understand that we need to be cautious and avoid inflating the sale price at the expense of the development’s quality and its impact. The financial benefit to the community from the Ford Site redevelopment rests in the value and quality of its final development and its overall position in the vibrant existing neighborhood, to include the correlative values and stability of the surrounding residential and commercial tax base. I am particularly concerned that zoning the site in its entirety prior to the selection of a master developer limits the City’s tools to negotiate high-level community amenities and standards including pedestrian and bike amenities, green space, and design and material standards"

Dai Thao

"I support the city’s current zoning plans but would like to see more green spaces incorporated throughout the plans and ensure that there are opportunities for green and technology jobs there."

Melvin Carter

"Yes. People who live, work, and play in Saint Paul should be able to get around our communities safely, and street design is a big part of that. We have a lot of work to do to create streets that are truly safe for bikers and walkers. Well-designed streets that connect to the existing neighborhoods are one of the best ways to provide connectivity for people living in the area and throughout Saint Paul. People who live, work, and play in Saint Paul should be able to get around our communities safely – and street design is a big part of that. As we’ve seen over the last few years, we still have work to do to create streets that are truly safe for bikers and walkers. By designing streets that are safer for pedestrians and bikers of all ages and investing in buses and public transportation, we can create a community where new families and businesses want to set down roots. Businesses use light rail and public transportation as recruiting tools as they hire new workers; families use buses and bike lanes to travel throughout our communities, and everyone uses our sidewalks and streets to get where they need to go. As Mayor, I want Saint Paul to offer transportation options that work for everyone – and that includes safer streets."

Elizabeth Dickinson

"Yes.

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"I support a street network that distributes traffic in an equitable manner and that limits excessive impact on our residential neighborhoods. As the Ward Three Council Member from 2000-2012, one of the reasons I created the Ford Site Task Force was to measure the impact of proposed zoning and development in the surrounding area, as well as to incorporate mass transit and bike/walk opportunities. Previous traffic studies have indicated measurable and significant impacts to the surrounding area. These need to be minimized by controlling the zoning use of the site to limit high-traffic uses, by ensuring extensive bike/walk opportunity, by incorporating real transit options that are guaranteed, and by distributing traffic equitably. "

Dai Thao

"Yes, I support a complete streets network that connects the existing neighborhood grids. I also recognize that the expansion will create substantial traffic changes for those in the surrounding area. I think more planning and guarantee for multi‑modal and mass transit options need to be incorporated to minimize and mitigate the traffic on the neighborhood streets."

Melvin Carter

"Yes. There should be some paid parking on the Ford Site. Parking spaces are significant public investments for any city to make. In a city of our size, it makes sense to put common sense policies in place that recoup the cost of that investment – because that revenue can help support the public assets in that surrounding neighborhood. As Mayor, I want to carefully examine the parking requirements both on the Ford Site, and across the community, to ensure we aren’t putting a costly burden on new development by forcing them to over build parking facilities."

Elizabeth Dickinson

"Limiting retail surface parking lots to twenty spots due to complications/limitations for creating underground parking because of the bedrock, and leaning heavily on district parking ramps shared by businesses for different uses throughout the day, may not make retailers happy, but it’s likely the right thing to do. In general I can support paid parking if it will cut down on car traffic, and encourage bicycling and transit."

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"While I believe that innovative and efficient transit should be a guaranteed part of the development, there will also be a need for parking on the site. If we are to support local businesses, whose margins are different than well-funded national chains, and if we are to support affordable housing, I do not believe paid parking will allow us to achieve our goals. Current parking requirements at the site, depending on to what capacity the site is developed, appear to be in line with trends"

Dai Thao

"I support creating a parking district that directly benefits the residents and businesses there. This will help mitigate traffic congestion, allow businesses and residents to support one another, and promote multi‑modal transit."

Melvin Carter

"Whether as part of new development at the Ford Site or in any part of our city, affordable housing has to be weaved into the fabric of all of our neighborhoods. My work in housing and economic development has proven that Saint Paul families do best when the city partners with non-profit housing developers to fund affordable rental and ownership housing opportunities. At the same time, it’s critical that we carefully balance the mix of market and affordable housing units – particularly when higher end buildings threaten to push existing residents out of their home. By offering low income housing tax credits, tax increment financing, capital improvement bonds (CIB), and sales tax and revitalization funds (STAR), the city can help working families make ends meet and stay in our city. These investments, in turn, help encourage state and federal agencies to provide the additional funding for these developments to move forward."

Elizabeth Dickinson

"Yes, I do think affordable housing should be part of every development, including the Ford site. I support it being integrated at every level, not sequestered into a particular area that can be designated as ‘low income’."

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"Affordable housing should be a part of any housing on the site, particularly with respect to senior housing and workforce housing. This can be achieved through a variety of existing city mechanisms that promote and develop this important housing option. We must not simply wait for the proposals. Rather, we should seek development that incorporates affordability into the development, providing incentives within the development and from sources such as STAR funding, traditional housing tax credits, and statewide funding for housing. I was the City Council’s leader on affordable housing for twelve years and I intend to continue that leadership as Mayor."

Dai Thao

"I do believe affordable and mixed‑income housing should be part of the Ford site, everyone deserves to be able to live in such a vibrant, wonderful neighborhood. There will be public investment on this site to ensure that we achieve these equity goals."

Melvin Carter

"As Mayor, I would work to retain the businesses we have while offering modest, targeted grants and loans to help new businesses – especially women- and people of color-owned businesses – set up shop. In the case of the Ford Site, we have a truly unique opportunity to create an urban village where residents can work, live, and play all within walking distance. As Mayor, I will encourage local business development by pushing for mixed use zoning that puts customers, workers, and residents all within reach. Together with city staff, we will also transform our approach with local businesses from being a referee into being more of a coach and teammate. I want our residents and businesses to have a true partner in City Hall, working to help them succeed."

Elizabeth Dickinson

"Make the business start-up process simple. Instead of forcing entrepreneurs to jump from government office to government office filling out forms and asking questions, I would propose creating hiring business navigators and creating a central space on the city’s website that walks business owners through the process of getting started: which forms to fill out, who to contact, how long each step takes, etc. We would try to employ principles from lean urbanism and cut out superfluous steps if possible, and consult existing business owners in the process to find out how they got started."

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"The effort to attract business in Saint Paul should be a multifaceted approach that includes ensuring a safe city, a city with a responsible budget, and a city that encourages business as opposed to hampering its growth. A variety of studies have shown that the Ford site is highly attractive to business. Ensuring that local businesses are a part of the site will require financial diligence and policy direction with the master developer. As a MAC Commissioner, I spearheaded the nationally recognized effort to bring local businesses to our airport, resulting in a wholesale change at MSP and the involvement of numerous local businesses in this successful enterprise. This was the result of extensive outreach to the local business community and a general policy directive from the Commission. I will apply the same skill and diligence to the Ford site to ensure our local businesses and communities are fully represented. This issue also is deeply correlative with the need to be sure the City is at the forefront of the choice for master developer. "

Dai Thao

"We cannot have a strong, thriving City without local businesses. They provide jobs and can draw visitors. I think mixed‑use zoning is an important aspect and allowing for creative uses of space allows opportunity for small business owners. I think the Ford site plan is heading in the right direction as far as density and walkability for future business sites, which is critical for a businesses success."

Melvin Carter

"Developing our transit system will be a top priority for me as mayor. Businesses use light rail and public transportation as recruiting tools as they hire new workers; families use buses and bike lanes to travel throughout our communities, and everyone uses our sidewalks and streets to get where they need to go. As a city councilmember, I improved access on the Green Line along University Avenue by successfully advocating for more stops that supported the neighborhoods along the line. I look forward to working with Ramsey County and the Metropolitan Council to connect our downtown with the Ford Site, MSP Airport, and the Mall of America with a permanent transit option."

Elizabeth Dickinson

"I love light rail transit, but do believe the narrowness of the streets down 7 th street more easily accommodate streetcars or advanced rapid bus network. Residents and businesses are rightly concerned about safety and disruption of their neighborhoods with light rail. I would especially support replacement of every retiring diesel bus with an electric bus (which cost the same as diesel.) Given there’s a $2 million study dedicated to looking at environmental, community, and economic impacts, it seems wise to delay the decision until we have all the information."

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"I believe that the Riverview Corridor alignment should fully serve the Ford site, allowing efficient connections to downtown Saint Paul, MSP International Airport, and downtown Minneapolis. I have been involved in rail and bus transit for many years, from early iterations on the Central Corridor when I was with Ramsey County, to the eventual Green Line as a City Council Member, and in many processes regarding Riverview Corridor. I have intensely studied modern streetcar and I believe it is viable opportunity for a successful transit mode. "

Dai Thao

"Again a balance must be struck between costs and impact. I’m open to using either an existing bridge, but believe it must be done in a way that minimizes impact to the river bluffs and natural areas. I support both light rail transit and rapid bus network, as part of the current master plan, and as a way to help mitigate traffic impacts to the surrounding area."

Melvin Carter

"Saint Paul has some of the best parks in the entire country thanks to a commitment throughout our community to create public assets that make our city more livable and developing high standards for green space in new development. The Ford Site plans have met those high standards and, as Mayor, I will continue to encourage the development of public green space that all residents of all backgrounds and incomes can enjoy."

Elizabeth Dickinson

"The current St. Paul parkland dedication ordinance is written to incentivize cash-in- lieu rather than land, with a residential per unit fee of $1200, which is well below others in the metro area. This means the council and developer MUST AGREE on land or fee will be paid instead. Council does not have sole discretion to make decision. To ensure adequate parkland is preserved, we need to ensure that the zoning requirements for public recreation space is adhered to. Overall, I tend to support public recreation spaces that accommodate multiple uses, rather than single-use recreational spaces, like ballparks, although I want to support some replacement for the Little League fields."

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"I do not believe the current site zoning or any current vision for the site provides for adequate parks and open space. As a City Council Member, I authored and passed the measure calling for a study of open space on the site, to include funding and selection of a consultant to guide the process. I initiated this because I believed and I still believe now that we have an extraordinary opportunity to do something truly special with respect to open space. The result of my effort was the 2011 Ford Site Open Space Guidelines report (available on the City’s website). In this report, there are ten guiding principles. Among these principles, the following are key driving principles: • More open space is preferred to less. • The economic value of open space should be recognized in comparing different land-use scenarios. • Balance open space ideals with the numerous other redevelopment considerations. As we examine citywide needs for green space, it is important to recognize the value of green space from environmental, recreational, bike/walk, youth development, and financial standpoints, acknowledging these ten guiding principles. There are numerous existing methodologies to fund and implement these opportunities, as well as innovative strategies. I am committed to achieving this and I believe my background, skills, and experience can realize this legacy opportunity."

Dai Thao

"No, as stated earlier, we need more access to green and open spaces throughout the site, which bring in value to the community. Our current Parkland Dedication Ordinance can be strengthened to achieve more green space development and making it privately owned but publicly accessible."

Melvin Carter

"One of the most exciting opportunities at the Ford Site is the chance to create a truly sustainable 21st Century village that not only harnesses clean, renewable energy, but also uses energy much more efficiently. The extensive energy study undertaken by the Technical Advisory Group showed that Saint Paul was uniquely positioned to make the Ford Site fully sustainable. First, our district heating and cooling system that provides efficient services to our downtown can also serve the Ford Site with little to no technical challenges. Second, our strong renewable energy market across Minnesota means we can both produce onsite renewables and utilize other offsite renewable energy offerings like community solar. Finally, we can be more efficient about the energy we consume by constructing the buildings onsite to the highest possible standard – requiring less energy over the life of the building. These kinds of steps, both at the Ford"

Elizabeth Dickinson

"I believe the site should maximize possibilities for LEED certification, focusing on >materials used to minimize adverse effects on humans and environment, with a performance-based approach to ensure occupant comfort, roofs oriented to maximize solar capture, and new techniques including solar shingles (which look like regular shingles) which could be employed. I also really like the existing imaginative use of stormwater collection system to provide a central water feature, to mimic a natural stream and pond system and to help control downstream erosion."

Tom Goldstein

No Response

Pat Harris

"In addition to traditional items such as creating a development LEED certified at the highest level, managing storm and ground water responsibly, and requiring energy efficient construction and overall power generation, there is ample opportunity to make the development a regional or national model. I have specific experience in financing renewable energy, to include assembling hydro and solar energy finance projects, and I can use this experience to create a legacy project. Power generation from the existing hydro dam operated by Brookfield, solar energy use, and a full transit connection, among others, are options that should be vigorously explored."

Dai Thao

"I think itʹs integral to think long term when developing this site when it comes to renewable energy. First, I think itʹs important to promote LEED certified buildings from the beginning, so that the building themselves create less of an impact on our environment. I think the will to create a net zero site is there, especially amid growing concerns about climate change. Builders working together collaboratively on the site is important. Utilizing the nearby river for power is the first step in clean energy for the site, but the City should also look into solar for the site. Alternatively, using the nearby river for other atypical uses, such as routing for cooling and steam are promising as well."

Rob lives with his fiance in Highland Park with their two dog-sized cats. He is an avid bicyclist and musician.
St. Paul Mayoral Candidates Ford Site Questionnaire
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