A major project that would restructure the course of Minnehaha Creek through Arden Park was presented at the Aug. 1 Edina City Council meeting.
The council opted for a more inclusive process than a funding request from the parks and recreation department would typically require.
Mayor Jim Hovland said that after the council and staff realized there hadn’t been a public hearing yet, they turned the Arden Park presentation into an opportunity for council members to ask questions but not make any action.
“It made me think about the proposed winter park improvements to Braemar [last year],” Hovland said. “People had strong opinions on both sides of the issues. We said, ‘let’s have a public hearing and have that input.’ I think we had made a more well-reasoned decision because of it.”
The public hearing is set for Wednesday, Sept. 6, and the council will likely take up the matter in the second meeting of September.
The concept plan renews aged park facilities including a park shelter building, playground, ice rink the great lawn area.
New proposed facility features include a patio area near the shelter, low-intensity trail lighting along the park path and landscaping.
Park paths, sidewalks, overlooks and trail connections to the nature trail will also be rehabilitated or constructed.
One of the major – and most controversial – pieces of the proposal includes re-meandering the creek and removing the dam underneath the 54th Street Bridge, which would be reconstructed in tandem with this project if approved.
The proposal prompted protests and signs reading “Save the Waterfall” to be put up throughout Edina.
Parks and Recreation Director Ann Kattreh said that the city could do park improvements without the overall project, but said that as they were charged with figuring out partnership opportunities from the city, the partnership with Minnehaha Creek Watershed District only makes sense.
“We feel like this is smart planning, taking an overall comprehensive look at the park … as opposed to looking at individual park elements,” Kattreh said.
Of all the questions asked by council members, the common theme was clearing up rumors and misconceptions heard throughout the community about the project.
“Everybody loves this park, the natural state of the park, and want to maintain that essential character,” Councilmember Bob Stewart said. “What is the real state of the intentions here? There has been some suggestion … of a Disney-fication of Arden Park, to make it more like Centennial Lakes. The kinds of things that would be going on at Arden Park, besides work on stream – is it retaining the rustic beauty of this area, or paving over of these things?”
“I have heard this as well,” Kattreh
responded. “I don’t see any correlation between the two.”
Kattreh said that a park shelter building, which has yet to be designed, might be getting conflated with a large building, but she imagined it being similar to park shelters at Pamela Park or Weber Park.
The project would also avoid the removal of the willow trees.
Contact Ethan Groothuis at [email protected]