Roseville approves land purchase with Mounds View School District

Autumn Grove Park Concept Plan
In 2010, the Roseville Parks and Recreation Department completed a parks system master plan, which includes acquiring a 3.32-acre parcel of land just south of Autumn Grove Park on Hamline Avenue. The vacant lot is owned by the Mounds View School District, and could be used for "court sports," including baseball, volleyball, pickleball or soccer, according to Parks and Recreation director Lonnie Brokke. (submitted graphic)

Former contaminated site to become a park

A three-acre piece of land in Roseville with a storied background as a dairy farm, construction company, printing press, school district center and contaminated brownfield will soon become a city park.

The Roseville City Council approved a purchase agreement with the Mounds View School District for a 3.32-acre property at its Nov. 10 meeting. The council plans to use the site, located at 2959 Hamline Ave., to augment Autumn Grove Park, which is just north of the property that once housed the school district's administrative center. The city entered into the purchase agreement in April, and has been conducting its due diligence period since.

The only problem: the site isn't quite ready to be used yet, as it was once contaminated with perchloroethylene/tetrachloroethylene.

Perc, also known as TCE, is a colorless liquid solvent often used in dry cleaning or degreasers, and has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board as a "possible to probable" carcinogen.

The school district discovered the contamination about 10 years ago when it had hoped to sell the land to a housing developer, and although the district could not determine the original source of the contamination, it conducted an extensive soil remediation project in 2009.

At that time, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency declared the soil and vapor issues had successfully been addressed, according to Eric Hesse, an environmental consultant from Leisch & Associates.

However, per MPCA standards, the groundwater at the site must still be monitored for Perc twice a year for at least the next three years. Of the eight total wells on the site, five have been "abandoned," or cleared, but three will continue to require monitoring.

Associated costs

The city is purchasing the land for $415,000, and will assume the responsibility for ongoing costs associated with groundwater monitoring and reporting. The money for the land and its remediation efforts is budgeted as part of the city's $19 million Parks Renewal program.

At the Nov. 10 council meeting, Roseville officials explained the cost of monitoring and reporting to the MPCA will be about $6,050 per year for the next three years. It will cost an additional $550 per well to officially "close" the wells after the necessary monitoring has been completed.

After the groundwater investigation at the site is considered closed, the city will then need to acquire a "no further action" letter from the MPCA stating the contamination has been dealt with and no additional corrective measures are required. Obtaining the letter will cost a couple thousand dollars, city attorney Charlie Bartholdi said at the meeting.

The purchase agreement, which must be closed by the end of the year, is contingent upon two items: a slight change in the legal description of the site involving antiquated right-of-way access provisions, and a "No Association Determination" letter from the MPCA stating the city had nothing to do with the original contamination, even though it will be responsible for monitoring and reporting.

The district is currently working on clearing up the issue with the land title, which involves a title examiner hearing the issue in court.

Looking forward

According to the school district, the MPCA has significantly lower restrictions on recreational land use than it does for housing developments. Thus, the city should encounter few problems converting the property into a park.

Roseville identified the parcel as a potential land acquisition for park improvements in its parks master plan, which was completed in 2010. In a previous interview, Parks and Recreation director Lonnie Brokke told the Review the city envisions the space as a "court for all sports" area with flat sports fields or open space.

Of the $2.1 million budgeted for improvements at Autumn Grove Park, about $867,000 is earmarked for the new parcel of land.

Johanna Holub can be reached at or 651-748-7813. Follow her on Twitter @jholubnews.


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