Saturday, July 21, 2012

Potential Natural Outdoor Classroom

On the north end of the former Northern Engraving factory site on St. Feriole Island, there is a small triangle of land that based on initial discussions with the PdC City could possibly be set-aside for an outdoor area that the school could use for educational activities.

Click here to go to the Google map of the Island; area is in upper left of this view

The site is estimated to be a triangle of about 150 feet across the south end and about 200 feet to the north point or approximately 15,000 square feet.

Click here to go to map of area

This size of a plot is not conducive to a school forest plan as those normally are 20 or 40 acres or even more. However, given the proximity to the Mississippi River (which is across the railroad tracks) and other natural features, the site may work well for an outdoor classroom.

Other sites on the factory property may be slated for development (band shell, overlook, parking, steel frame pergola, water spraying feature, etc.) but the initial vision for this "school" piece of land would be to keep it as natural as possible with a limited number small open areas to congregate with groups of students and a connecting series of interpretative trails. Educational uses are only limited by imaginations. Some ideas would be that an interpretive trail could be developed on which the flora could be grown and identified, fauna watching or studies could be encouraged through strategically placed information, and depending on development in the area there could be evening or night programming such as highlighting migrations along the river-way.

This site would be opened (fence removed from the Villa Road side, but probably keep the fence on the railroad side) and not closed to the public. Alternative uses that do not damage the natural surroundings would be encouraged when not in use for school programming. Partnerships would be cultivated to further encourage community usage.

Ultimately, it would greatly enhance the educational components of the whole area if the school could gain access and usage rights of the Radio Station property which is located to the east of this Northern Engraving property. The Radio Station property has ponds and topography that is very conducive to scientific study. That would be an exciting possibility, but, at this time that is not finalized and it is only initial talking or dreaming.

This is a picture from the Villa Road looking west. The overgrown fence line in front of the train would be the back side of the property.

This is a picture from the north looking south. The shrubbery growth is the old factory fence line.

At this time we are looking for any ideas to create an overall vision for this piece of land that we can present to the City Council. Please let us know your ideas.

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