Swede Hollow Master Plan approaches finish line


Work on the Swede Hollow Master Plan is close to being complete, with city staffers planning to have a final version ready to go in September. Project manager Cheeneng Yang is looking for feedback from the community on prioritizing a list of potential projects included in the plan. (graphics courtesy of City of St. Paul)

Potential projects included in the master plan include new bike trails to connect the park to future bikeways on Minnehaha Avenue and Margaret Street.

Planners still seeking feedback from community

 

Another update on the Swede Hollow Park Master Plan was shared during a July 23 Payne-Phalen Community Council meeting.

St. Paul’s master plan project manager Cheenang Yang said the draft plan was about 75% finished and that he expects to have a final version ready to go in September.

Yang said he’s seeking community input through a survey to prioritize a series of potential projects.

Work on the master plan began last fall with a series of park tours highlighting its history and features. This spring the city held three park master plan meetings where community members helped establish goals and brainstormed potential projects and areas for improvement. 

During the July 23 meeting, Yang brought together those ideas and discussed how they have been incorporated into the draft plan so far. 

 

Goals

The master plan lays out five goals and priorities: improving park signage, improving access to water within the park, managing natural resources, increasing visibility and safety, and creating spaces for various uses — events, passive recreation and cultural healing. 

From there, the master plan includes possible improvements and projects for different areas of the park, based off the goals. 

Some of the projects include enhancing the water and wetland areas of the park, which Yang suggested should start with a water feasibility study. The study would look at where water sources are located and whether it would be beneficial to have a water filtration system or a system to recirculate water. 

Another project includes acquiring three acres of land near the old Hamm Brewery that is currently owned by the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Yang said city staff have already begun talking about transferring the land to the park. 

There are also plans to improve the Drewry Tunnel access point to make it Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, but because of the tunnel’s historic designation, any work would have to be OKed by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. 

There are also ideas to add public art at various spots in the park, adding low-dim lighting and emergency call boxes for added safety, creating signs for education and interpretation, and continuing to manage vegetation in the park by restoring native species. 

 

Up on the bluff

The section of the park atop the bluff on the corner of Greenbrier and Maury streets in Dayton’s Bluff is slated for more active recreation, which could include a 3,000-square-foot play area, a woodland garden, picnic areas, improvement of the overlook and a series of new trails. 

Yang proposed new trails for getting down into the park that would use historic paths seen in pictures of the old Hamm’s mansion. One trail could run between the Hamm’s Brewery and the bluff area to connect to future bikeways on Minnehaha Avenue and Margaret Street. Another trail could break off from the steps into the park and run down from the bluff for approximately 400 feet, also connecting to the future bikeways. 

 

Mid and lower Swede Hollow

The middle and lower parts of the park could include projects to make for more passive recreation and to highlight the natural feel of the park. 

Suggestions for the middle area include creating dirt trails that could add just under a half mile of hiking trails and bring visitors closer to the park’s water. There are also suggestions to improve existing paved trails to prevent flooding and to build boardwalks into the swampy parts of the park. 

Lower in the park, where local youth nonprofit Tree Trust is currently working on an observation deck and dirt trail, project ideas again suggest creating boardwalks in soggy areas and to cross over parts of the creek. There are also suggestions to create an informal gathering area with possible interpretive signs, a bike fix-it station and connections to dirt trails. 

 

Next steps

Yang said he’s looking for community members to give feedback on the potential projects laid out in the plan and to take a survey to prioritize those projects. The survey available at www.stpaul.gov/SwedeHollowMasterPlan through Aug. 21.

The July 23 presentation and the draft master plan in its entirety can be viewed at the above website. For questions or to give feedback, contact Yang at 651-266-6414.

 

–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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