Letters 

Questions Langford Park Bandstand proposal

After reading about a proposed new bandstand for Langford Park in the last Bugle, I wanted to add some early thoughts on the subject. There are two considerations as I see it: 1. Do we need a new bandstand? 2. How will this new structure be developed and used? 

The question of whether the SAP community needs — or wants — a new bandstand is dependent on your thoughts about the current one and how you want to see Langford Park used. While the current bandstand has some historical interest and is the last remaining bandstand in the city that was built in its era, it is not very accessible to some people, and has not been maintained very well over the years. It has seemed to serve its purpose for the one-day 4th in the Park event, albeit, maybe less so over the years. 

How this new structure is developed and used is another consideration. The 4th in the Park Committee proposal for a new bandstand (which is open for discussion as I understand it), is about three to four times larger than the bandstand we have, not including a section for permanent seating to create an amphitheater type of area. This is quite a bit larger than the current bandstand.

More concerning is the committee is also talking to St. Paul Parks and Rec about making the bandstand available on their website for anyone to book and hold events there. This could potentially add events every weekend of the summer. We live in a smaller community within a large, metropolitan area. With that comes noise and light pollution that we all have to deal with in various ways every day. I would prefer any bandstand to not substantially increase those elements.

I live on the south side of Langford Park near the athletic and skating rink area. While I generally enjoy seeing people using the fields, I would not enjoy the equivalent of the Langford Park Classic happening across the street every weekend for six months out of the year. The parking and noise would be a detriment to our enjoyment of our neighborhood. It seems like this type of use is what the 4th in the Park Committee is proposing for the new bandstand.

I am looking for thorough input sessions to discuss whether a new bandstand is desirable for Langford Park, and, if so, what that means for the community. I hope the neighbors directly impacted by a new bandstand will attend the information session that is going to be scheduled at the elementary school to voice opinions and help in decisions that affect the livability of their homes. And I hope that the larger SAP community will put themselves in our shoes as they think about the size and use of a new bandstand. Under what conditions would you want one right across the street from you?

                                                               — Valerie Green
St. Anthony Park 

Maintain balance between active and passive park space 

In the May 2019 Bugle, the St. Anthony Park community learned of the potential plans for a new amphitheater and companion stage structure proposed for Langford Park.

We enjoy the 4th in the Park event and are thankful for the strong and longstanding leadership of that committee to bring the community together. However, given the current proposed size of the new amphitheater and bandstand we are concerned this new structure could drive significant change to the balance of active and passive green space currently enjoyed in Langford Park. 

Over the years, the green space, originally designed in the late 1800s by H.W.S. Cleveland and W.M.R. French, has steadily shrunk with the addition of significant building structures and their associated programing. The elementary school at the northeast end of the park and the recreation center at the south end of the park play important roles in our community, offering wonderful programs and enriching the character of the park. 

However, in light of our history of slowly reducing the amount of green space in Langford Park, it is worth pausing to reflect on the potential impact of building another structure with increased programing in the green space that remains. 

In addition, the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the current park has been a challenge over the years. As such, funds would need to be secured for ongoing maintenance due to increased use stemming from the addition of a programed amphitheater and the agencies accountable for maintenance over the long-term would need to be identified. Given the importance of Langford Park to the community, we have an opportunity to address this maintenance challenge. 

What is the right balance between active and passive space? As the park currently enjoys significant community use, we hope an outcome can be reached to ensure green space for generations to come. 

                                                             — Lydia Midness

Save historic Langford Park Bandshell

I recently watched an excellent TPT, Channel 2, production called Lost Twin Cities.  The reoccurring theme of the show was that a Twin Cities landmark had been demolished and about 30 years after the fact, a dreadful realization of what was lost would sink in … followed by, “what the heck were we thinking?

We are at a similar crossroad now in St. Anthony Park.  The 4th in the Park Committee thinks Langford Park needs a large entertainment venue located in the center of the park.  However, that would mean demolishing our current 107- year-old, historic Langford Park band shell that is the very last one of its kind in all of St. Paul.  

Many neighbors oppose razing the historic 1912 Langford Park band shell because it would be an irreplaceable loss of history and heritage to St. Anthony Park and St. Paul.  The historic band shell is not fancy but it has been ”Our Band Shell”, ever since President Taft was in office.  It’s a period piece that gives identity and differentiation to this community.  

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The current band shell was sized in proportion to the area of Langford Park where it’s located.  One of the proposed replacement structures is many times larger than our current band shell with seating to accommodate a 40 piece orchestra. The estimated cost is $200,000 to $400,000, (per 4ITP committee).  If you include the proposed permanent audience seating for the new band shell, this would capture a huge amount of green space.

SAP residents would be better served if the 4ITP Committee applied a small fraction of the money that a new band shell would cost, to reviving the Historic Langford Park Band Shell. If our current band shell were painted in a vibrant, multi-color, Victorian color scheme that reflected the time period in which it was built, it would shine like a pretty penny. It would be stunning; a one-of-a-kind band shell in St. Anthony Park.  

Langford Park has a lot of daily activity at both ends.  The central of the park, where the band shell is located, has always remained the open and quieter section of the park where users can throw a Frisbee, spread a blanket, read a book on a park bench or simply walk on turf and enjoy peace and quiet.  The open space does not require a large entertainment venue to make it complete. It is complete now.  We are so lucky to have such beautiful large sections of green space in St. Anthony Park.  They are jewels in our amazing neighborhood, and I’d like to see a commitment to retain and maintain them for everyone to enjoy.

I have the utmost respect for all the good work that the 4th in the Park Committee does for this community.  Their hearts are clearly in the right place.  But their initiative to build an entertainment venue in the center of Langford Park, which would knock down our 107 year old historic band shell, is a misstep. Our historic band shell is quaint part of what defines our community; a community with an eye towards the future while demonstrating respect for the past.

I have attended the last thirty-two 4th of July celebrations in Langford Park and never heard anyone complain about our band shell.  On the contrary, visitors express their delight in experiencing the type of park and celebration that they thought no longer existed. 

There is a danger period every historic structure encounters; the time between when they are old and when they are cool.  Our quaint band shell has arrived at that juncture. We are the stewards of this band shell; the only ones that can usher a physical part of history into the future.  My hope is that in 30 years from now, when distant visitors experience Langford Park for the first time and see kids playing on our then 137- year-old band shell they will say, “Wow, that’s pretty cool!”    

                                                                                                                                       — Phill Duff
  St. Anthony Park  

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