A Run-Down Park Becomes a Model of Sustainability and a Source of Community Pride
In spring 2014, Cottageville Park in Hopkins, Minnesota, was showing its age. The playground equipment was outdated, the turf was thin and weedy, and the park’s lone basketball hoop had seen its better days.
When Wenck staff arrived on site that spring day, it was easy to imagine the park in its prime, full of neighborhood children enjoying time outdoors.But on that day, admittedly a cold one for May, only one child was there. A teenager practiced his jump shots from the small concrete pad surrounding the basketball hoop, the blung of his shots clearly audible across the empty park.
It was telling that the only sign of frequent park use was a narrow, foot-worn path cutting diagonally from Blake Road, a busy street on the park’s west side, to the neighborhood on the east. It had a determined look about it. Intent on getting from one point to another, few people stopped here. Crime had become a problem in this largely hidden park.
Minnehaha Creek, a popular recreational stream that flows through the park on its way to the Mississippi River, also bore evidence of wear and tear. The creek’s banks were eroded, carrying enough sediment and phosphorus to compromise stream health and provide only poor habitat for fish and other wildlife.
Faced with the challenge of improving the environment in the park and its surrounding area, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District entered into a partnership with the City of Hopkins, the Blake Road Collaborative, and Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land & Legacy Fund to expand and redevelop the park.
The new park would include regional stormwater treatment, guided access to the creek, a restored creek buffer, educational signage, a community garden, walking paths, and many other amenities.
Regional stormwater treatment was accomplished by constructing a 20,000-square-foot underground iron enhanced sand filtration system that treats 30 acres of watershed that were previously untreated. The underground system was designed to accommodate the community’s desire to maximize green space in this highly-urbanized area, increasing the park’s visibility and safety and inviting public use.
The redeveloped park faces its first winter this year. When snow melt uncovers the park this spring, people will find a place to safely enjoy its green space and to know that under it all lies a commitment to restoring both a neighborhood and its natural resources.
As the District Engineer for Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Wenck provided due diligence, surveying, stormwater management, construction documents and construction observation for this project.