Hopkins’ Cottageville Park plans unveiled

Cottageville Park will look much different in the not-so-distant future.

At the Dec. 18 Hopkins City Council meeting, project consultant Chuck Stewart with the Cuningham Group of Minneapolis unveiled the three-phase redevelopment plan for the park.

This project is a joint effort between the city of Hopkins and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

The project is designed to help restore and create greater access to Minnehaha Creek at the park, located at Blake Road North and Lake Street Northeast in the eastern part of the city.

Work on the project is nowhere near ready to begin, but the plans are a step in the right direction, said Stewart.

An advantage of the park’s location, said Stewart, is its role in the Southwest Lightrail Transit Corridor, provided that transit project is approved.

“There’s a lot of opportunity here in the sense that the LRT station location off of Excelsior and Blake would be located in proximity to the park,” he said. “The park starts to set up the frame for future development.”

The project calls for plentiful open green space that will be the cornerstone the rest of the park revolves around, said Stewart.

There is a “play” component throughout the park, but heavily on the north end where there is better access to parking.

A monument area would serve as a “doorstep” to the park in its southwest corner, which then leads down to the creek, which will be crossable in low water situations, Stewart said.

Heading north from the park’s southwest corner, plans call for the construction of a “green pavilion” with roof access for users to view the park in its entirety.

Plans also call for the expansion of the community garden, said Stewart.

“The community garden area that is currently on site is thriving, so we wanted to enhance the space that they have and also provide a little more room,” he said.

Stone and wood “adventure play areas” will provide a space for climbing and other children’s recreational activities.

Stewart said the project calls for amenities that appeals to people of all ages and recreational interests.

“There’s a lot of different things you can do,” he said. “There’s a lot of areas you can make a loop in the park if you’re just walking. You can sit and rest in certain spots. There’s major active areas that are very close and that are also very visible. And also there’s a learning opportunity throughout with the creek…there’s a public art engagement portion as part of the pavilion. And, anything that has to do with water is a great opportunity to showcase some education.”

Three plans

The project plans call for three separate park identities.

The first is the “basic park” piece, estimated at $2.4 million, would set the park’s framework and would include digging holes, treating storm water, setting the walking path, setting the stage for expanding the community garden and early construction stages of the pavilion.

This phase also sets the frame for future expansion and upgrades.

The second piece, “signature park,” is estimated to cost $3.3 million, and would begin to polish work already completed.

This plan incorporates the “basic park” with additions such as adding an alley turnaround island planting, knoll picnic and seating area, Minnehaha Creek Crossing with stone seating and paving and a lookout box. The pavilion and plaza space would be built in this phase.

The “awesome park,” estimated at $5.8 million, accomplishes all of the first two park plans with further additions and upgrades.

This plan calls for a play area for children ages 2-5 with new equipment, a slide from the pavilion and “earth-integrated play components,” according to the project plans, and also a play area for children ages 5-12. Public art, an enhanced creek crossing, “green roof” pavilion and an amphitheater/learning space would also be integrated in this piece.

More work to be done

Hopkins Director of Economic Development & Planning Kersten Elverum said there is no timetable for when new construction will begin. Before that happens, another building on the project site will need to be demolished, most likely this coming spring.

Then, engineering plans will be drafted to determine exactly how and where the park’s components will be integrated.

And, the city still needs to determine how to pay for the project, Elverum said. The city will not have to pay $5.8 million up front because the work can be done in phases.

Elverum said the city has been looking for funding partners and also legacy funding dollars.

At the Dec. 18 meeting, Mayor Gene Maxwell said the project has a long ways to go, but sees the Cuningham Group plans as a step in the right direction and is pleased the project continues to move forward.

Once completed, Maxwell said this park will be a regional destination and not a typical neighborhood park.

“It’s really going to be a nice park for the community to enjoy,” he said.