Hopkins Council moves forward on Artery project, Burnes Park improvements

by Gabby Landsverk, Sun Sailor Newspapers

The Hopkins City Council moved on two major projects at its Jan. 17 meeting, approving final plans for “the Artery” project on Eighth Avenue as well as final designs for the Burnes Park splash pad and improvements.

The Artery, a proposed reconstruction of Eighth Avenue featuring community art installations and a bicycle pathway, has been in development for a number of years, according to City Engineer Nate Stanley.
“It was born out of the idea that we wanted to create a more visible presence for downtown Hopkins,” he said. “The vision has always been to create a vibrant multimodal corridor which will open up Mainstreet to the large volume of the traveling public.”

Although planned to take advantage of the additional traffic brought by the proposed Southwest Lightrail Transit, Stanley said construction of the Artery would be completed prior to any work on the light rail route.
The most current estimate of the project’s cost is $4.55 million, Stanley said, including contingency costs.
“I expect to see that cost go down when we get bids,” he said. “We’re budgeting well above what we need. It’s nice to not have our backs against the wall.”

Of that, $2.75 million will be covered through grants and other government aid, as well as $305,000 from the city’s storm sewer fund, $100,000 from the sanitary sewer fund and $200,000 from the water fund.
“We have a significant amount of funding coming from grants and agreements,” Stanley said.
The city will bond for the remaining $1.96 million. The project cost will not be assessed to residents.

Stanley said bidding for the project will open Feb. 15, with a contract to be brought to the council Feb. 21. He added that the relatively quick schedule is intended to allow for additional time in procuring custom-design decorative and artistic materials for the project.
“We wanted to move this along in a timely manner,” he said.

Community Development Director Kersten Elverum said the city’s call for artist proposals ended Jan. 13, with overwhelmingly positive results.
“We were overrun — we have over 100 submissions from artists across the country. Some extremely wonderful artists submitted,” Elverum said. A committee will evaluate the submissions and recommend a select few to the council for acceptance, Elverum said, estimating that five contracts would be awarded, with priority given to work that could be long term and durable.

Additional space will be included in the Artery for interactive work, seasonal exhibitions and contributions from residents, she added.
“There will be a lot of opportunity for temporary installations and community installations,” Elverum said.

The council expressed unanimous support for the project, but did offer suggestions for improvement. Councilmember Katy Campbell suggested that the Artery be made accessible with the inclusion of tactical signage for visually-impaired visitors, as well as cane-friendly pavers to promote mobility.
“I think it’s going to be a great project and something I think other cities will want to come and take a look at,” Councilmember Aaron Kuznia added.

Councilmember Jason Gadd said he looked forward to see the project, long in the works, finally come to fruition and bring additional traffic to the Mainstreet area.
“I’m excited for this because it has been discussed quite a bit over the last few years,” Gadd said. “I think what it does for us is create this opportunity to really showcase our Mainstreet.”

Mayor Molly Cummings agreed.
“I think this is an extraordinary project, and I know it’s been a long time coming,” she said, commending staff members, council and everyone involved for their creativity and collaboration in the project. “It’s really, really exciting.”

Construction is slated to begin in April and be completed in October.

The council also approved a final design services agreement of $191,600 for Burnes Park improvements, to include a splash pad facility, a new picnic pavilion, lighting, utilities, an upgraded play area and pedestrian trails.
“It’s going to be a very attractive looking park facility,” said Steve Stadler, city public works director.
The contract, with Hart-Howerton LTD, is for landscape and architectural design for the project, as well as some construction-related costs. Bidding for the project is anticipated to open in March. The preliminary budget for the project as a whole, excluding design and city staff costs, is estimated at $1.484 million.

Construction is scheduled to be from April through September. Impacts to summer programs and park activities will be inevitable, Stadler said, but efforts will be made to inform the public and direct them to nearby Cottageville Park, as necessary.
“Absolutely there will be an impact on the park … as far as picnic reservations, we’re telling people what the status of the park will be, so they’ll know,” Stadler said.

The mayor added that the benefits of the park improvements will far outweigh the short-term inconveniences of construction.
“We take so much pride in our parks and they’re such an important part of the culture of our city,” Cummings said. “I hope people realize that, yes, there’s some short-term pain but the long-term gain is worth waiting for.”

Contact Gabby Landsverk at [email protected]