Work continues on Swede Hollow Master Plan


The City of St. Paul held a community meeting May 22 to gather feedback for a master plan it’s creating for Swede Hollow Park. Some attendees said they want an urban park with extra trail infrastructure and open spaces, while others said they prefer a nature sanctuary that serves as a break from busy city life. (file photo)

Building off themes collected from surveys and an initial community meeting, work on the Swede Hollow Master Plan continues. 

The City of St. Paul is working to create a plan for Swede Hollow Park that will help guide future improvement projects and establish community goals for it.

Of the top priorities expressed by the community, some include maintaining the natural feel of the park as an escape from the city. Others include highlighting the creek and water at the park, adding more signage to make it easier to find, making it more accessible for people to get into and highlighting the cultural, historical and natural elements of the park. 

Building off those priorities, city staffer Cheeneng Yang, manager of the master plan project, came back to residents at a May 22 meeting at Hope Community Academy with possible improvement ideas for the park. This was the second community meeting on the topic; the first meeting was held April 24. 

Some of the ideas presented by Yang included water features, such as bridges, boardwalks or a recirculating system to highlight water in the park. Others included activating open spaces in the park, like the old Hamm house site along Greenbrier Street, by adding a playground. Other open areas, he suggested, like the space between St. Paul Brewing and the bike path at the north end of the park, could be activated by creating a patio area to connect brewery visitors to the park.

Other ideas included interpretive signs throughout the park, highlighting its natural, cultural and historic elements. Drawing off the signage, many community members suggested that the plan specifically mention how the park serves as a bird sanctuary and migratory route, adding that highlighting that and creating signs for it could make the park a destination for birders. 

Community members mentioned that birds already draw visitors to the park, explaining that in the beginning of May, the Friends of Swede Hollow organization hosted a bird walk for which some 30 people showed up. 

In terms of added accessibility, Yang suggested that an old driveway at the Hamm’s home site — the flat area above the park along Greenbrier — could be turned into a paved trail. It would connect to future bike infrastructure on Margaret Street, which would then connect to the Bruce Vento Trail inside the park. The trail would also serve those with strollers, wheelchairs or walkers to get down into the park.

Despite neighbors at the first community meeting not being in favor of lights, due to worries of them negatively impacting wildlife, Yang suggested the city could look into low-dim amber lighting. According to studies, such lights don’t affect wildlife due to the specific spectrum of light they give off. He suggested placing them along the main trail to address safety issues that park users have raised.

Of the 20 or so people at the meeting, the majority were still against the idea of lights in the park, concerned they would take away from its natural feeling.

A main theme attendees pinpointed was that the community needs to decide what purpose the park serves: to be an urban park with open spaces and lots of trail infrastructure, or to serve as a nature sanctuary and a quiet place for both humans and animals to escape the city. 

Yang reminded those at the meeting that none of the ideas proposed in the presentation were set in stone and that he’ll be continuing to adjust the plan as he gathers more community feedback. 

For updates about the project, to share feedback or to see the community meeting presentations, go to www.stpaul.gov/SwedeHollowMasterPlan. For additional questions or concerns, contact Yang at 651-266-6414 or send an email to cheeneng.yang@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

 

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

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