Updates take root at HANC

A rendering shows what the entrance of the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville will look like after construction is completed at the end of February. (Photos courtesy of Roseville Parks and Recreation)
A rendering shows what the entrance of the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville will look like after construction is completed at the end of February. (Photos courtesy of Roseville Parks and Recreation)
A crew from Blue Rhino Studio, an Eagan-based company that specializes in elements of museum exhibits and visitor centers, is constructing the giant tree that will soon be installed at HANC. (Photos courtesy of Roseville Parks and Recreation)
A crew from Blue Rhino Studio, an Eagan-based company that specializes in elements of museum exhibits and visitor centers, is constructing the giant tree that will soon be installed at HANC. (Photos courtesy of Roseville Parks and Recreation)
The giant tree that will be installed inside the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville is modeled from a cottonwood that stands on the property. (Photos courtesy of Roseville Parks and Recreation)
The giant tree that will be installed inside the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville is modeled from a cottonwood that stands on the property. (Photos courtesy of Roseville Parks and Recreation)

Roseville nature center undergoing renovations

The Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville is getting a major renovation, thanks to the city’s $19 million parks renewal program.

Construction at the nature center has been underway since December, closing it down for about a month, according to Parks and Recreation Director Lonnie Brokke. Although some areas of the center are still being renovated, it is now open to the public.

The facility’s heating system was updated, and an air conditioning system was installed, and upgrades were made to the electrical system.

The lower level of the building now has a remodeled kitchen area, new walls and improved bathrooms that are wheelchair accessible. The upper level exhibit area is getting a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting.

“It was just time,” Brokke says of the updates. “The nature center has been very heavily used since it was opened in 1990. It was time to do a little more of an upgrade.”

The overall cost of the renovations will be about $250,000, Brokke adds, noting community input gathered from the city’s master plan update in 2010 showed residents were interested in upgrading existing facilities such the nature center.

“I’ve appreciated the community’s involvement in this whole effort,” he says.

Indoor cottonwood

A new welcome desk was installed in mid-January, and within the next couple weeks it will be “shaded” by a giant cottonwood tree. But those who suffer from pesky springtime allergies need not worry—the tree going into the nature center will only look like it’s real.

Blue Rhino Studio, an Eagan-based company that specializes in creating statues and other diorama elements for museum exhibits and visitor centers, is constructing the tree, which is modeled from a real tree at the nature center, Brokke explains.

“There’s going to be a fantastic tree exhibit in the main area of nature center that’ll sprawl up to the ceiling area. It’s a replica of a very large cottonwood tree that’s out on the grounds. It’s one of the largest cottonwoods in the area.”

The replica “looks very real,” Brokke says.

The $60,000 cottonwood is being funded by the Friends of Roseville Parks and the Friends of Roseville’s Harriet Alexander Nature Center.

“They really deserve a lot of credit,” Brokke says of the groups. “I can’t thank them enough for taking on that part of the exhibit. The volunteers there work so very hard raising money to help support these facilities.”

City staff expects the interior construction to be complete by the end of February, well in time to host the center’s 25th annual Earth Day celebration April 18.

Building a better boardwalk

Some of the outdoor aspects of the nature center are being renovated as well.

Sections of the boardwalk around the nature center’s 52 acres of land are being replaced for safety reasons. When completed, the boardwalk will follow a new route and will feature a teaching station—a platform where naturalists can stop with students to take a closer look at the micro-organisms living in the bog, Brokke said.

Brokke says the boardwalk is being built off-site and will start being installed next month. The total cost of reconstructing the boardwalk will be about $400,000.

Additional work on the grounds, including buckthorn removal and wetland restoration, will start later this year as part of the city’s natural resource restoration program.

For more information about the renovations, visit www.cityofroseville.com/2389/Harriet-Alexander-Nature-Center-Renewal.

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


Harriet Alexander Nature Center hours

Tuesday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday: 1-4 p.m.
Closed Monday

As construction is still underway, visitors are advised to call ahead to make sure the center is open.

 

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