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St. Paul Parks group launches first project: Lilydale Park

City officials and the St. Paul Parks Conservancy break ground on the group's first project, a Gateway entry for undeveloped Lilydale Park land.
MinnPost photo by Joe Kimball
City officials and the St. Paul Parks Conservancy break ground on the group's first project, a Gateway entry for undeveloped Lilydale Park land.

The St. Paul Parks Conservancy, the group founded to help raise private money for St. Paul's parks in this time of budget crunches, has broken ground on its first project.

A ceremony Friday in Lilydale Regional Park marked the spot of a new Gateway entry into the undeveloped parkland along the Mississippi River, across from downtown St. Paul.

The stone-and-brick structure, with a sign, will let people know that they're in a park; it's a little hard to tell, otherwise. It will be about 22 feet high, located just west of where the High Bridge passes overhead. It's scheduled to be completed by next summer.

"A lot of people find it hard to get to Lilydale Park, especially from the Wabasha Bridge side," said Leslie Cook, executive director of the Conservancy. "And you never really know when you have officially entered the park. This will make it feel more like a destination."

The park, with a boat launch and walking and biking paths, was chosen as the Conservancy's first project because it's considered a hidden gem and is a good showcase for the group's efforts.

The 22-foot-high stone-and-brick structure will mark the entry into the park.
Courtesy of The St. Paul Parks Conservancy
The 22-foot-high stone-and-brick structure will mark the entry into the park.

The gateway structure, which will cost $214,000, is the first part of the group's efforts in the park. Also coming is a stone-lined creek along Water Street, to help funnel run-off from the nearby bluffs. Water now accumulates in the area, creating muddy or icy conditions. The Conservancy has raised all but $47,000 of the $561,000 needed for the Lilydale improvements.

The group will also pay for three resting spots in the park and removal of invasive plants in the area.

While work begins on the gateway, the Conservancy's first project, fundraising is already under way on the group's next parks improvement project: fixing up the playing fields at Oxford Park, near Lexington Parkway, in the Midway area.

About $45,000 is already pledged for that project; the goal is to get $360,000 to pay for new field lighting, multi-sport synthetic turf markings, goal posts, backstops and drinking fountains, Cook said.

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Comments (2)

Wonderful.

The *one* public amenity that I really, actually appreciate is headed for the trash heap.

I'm sure the St. Paul Parks Conservancy believes they are doing God's work, but why is it that some folks believe that a public space can't be enjoyed until it has some sort of man-made crap set upon it?

Mud happens; there are "resting spots" everywhere you look right now and I've always thought the tree canopy made an excellent "gateway".

Lillydale park *is* hard to find....that's probably why it is, or was, a destination worth arriving at.

Schwoops....I just noticed "Bucky" Thune standing there in the photo.

Judging from his choice of lawn ornaments for the home, I guess I should be happy the new gateway doesn't consist of a pile of old washing machines and rusted cars.