The reservoir that once held 18 million gallons of water, hidden under a grassy hill in Highland Park, is no longer needed – and Ramsey County and St. Paul have different views on what should replace it.
St. Paul is one of many places across the country that are using less water than in decades past and looking to reuse old water storage space. As St. Paul Regional Water Services prepares to demolish the underground infrastructure at Snelling Avenue and Ford Drive next year, officials are considering the future of the more than 4-acre site.
City staff suggested adding sports fields for football and other sports, while county officials suggested an ice rink and parking lot.
The St. Paul’s Council of Water Commissioners said on Tuesday they might not buy into either of these visions and want to ask the public and developers for ideas to see what options might be available.
“Does it hurt to turn it off and see if there is any interest? I don’t think so,” said Amy Brendmoen, city council member, one of the many board members. .
The regional water utility is expected to retain ownership of the site and, in the absence of playgrounds and skating rinks, a public purpose would make sense there, said board member Chris Tolbert.
Rob Spence, board member for St. Paul’s Blackhawks Soccer Club, agreed and told the board: “It is getting harder and harder to find space to play.
But St. Paul also has a shortage of taxable properties, said board member Rebecca Noecker, and she doesn’t want to rule out options just yet.
From the outside, the south reservoir, disused a few years ago, looks like a soccer field: a large grassy rectangle next to an ice rink and a golf course. But the flat space is like a plateau, surrounded by steep slopes and lined with signs threatening crime for anyone tampering with property. Below is a large, square concrete cave, propped up on columns, said Steve Schneider, general manager of St. Paul’s regional water services. Highland Park’s iconic water tower overlooks the now empty reservoir.
“The historic water tower will remain. It will lead nowhere,” said Schneider. But the rest of the site is a nuisance that attracts intruders, he said, and, “That’s no use to us right now.”
The city estimated that adding four youth fields, two for soccer and two for baseball, would cost $ 735,000 with natural turf and $ 2.2 million with artificial turf.
St. Paul officials also spoke about improvements to the park at another site on Tuesday.
They celebrated the start of long-planned additions to Dickerman Park, which will add a small portion of community recreation space along the Green Line LRT.
Despite its small size, the 2.5-acre park is “incredibly large,” Mayor Chris Coleman said at an event in space, located outside the Midway YMCA on University Avenue and Wheeler Street.
The Dickerman family donated the park to the city 108 years ago. But many people don’t realize the Empty Field is a park, said City Council Chairman Russ Stark.
The city plans to add walkways, plazas, native gardens and other amenities. Construction will cost $ 1.6 million and will be completed by spring 2018.
This is one of the few places along the streetcar line where St. Paul plans to add community parks.