Puzzle-like Deal Moves Cottageville Park Plan Forward
Hopkins and the Met Council are putting numerous pieces together for a deal that could expand the park.
Hopkins and the Metropolitan Council are nearing agreement on a complicated deal that would remove at least one of the duplexes obscuring Cottageville Park and further expand green space around the growing recreational area.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, City Engineer John Bradford outlined a plan that would lead to a design compatible with the city’s goal to open up the park.
- The Met Council needs space to install a new lift station. Hopkins saw that as an opportunity to grow Cottageville Park.
- Because of engineering considerations, space bordering the park won’t work for a lift station site. So the city asked the Met Council to purchase duplexes on 431 Blake Road and 435 Blake Road that border the park and trade those parcels to the city for space in Oakes Park, where a new lift station would work. Once acquired, the duplexes would be demolished and the properties converted to parkland.
- The Met Council reached an agreement to buy the 435 Blake Road parcel, but the owner of 431 Blake Road does not want to sell. So the council would instead buy one property and pay for a portion of upcoming Lake Street roadwork comparable to the cost of the remaining parcel. The city would then use the money it saves on street repairs to continue trying to acquire the remaining Blake Road property.
“Basically, we’d need to bank the money that we’re not spending on street reconstruction toward that parcel,” Bradford said.
The city did not plan to reconstruct Lake Street until 2017. However, the Met Council needs to tear up a portion of the road between Blake Road and Texas Avenue as part of a sewer project scheduled for 2014 or 2016.
Hopkins is still negotiating with the Met Council on the extent of work it would undertake on the city’s behalf.
With construction so far out, it’s not yet clear what the Lake Street project will cost. However, Bradford estimated that the Met Council investment would cover roughly 10 percent of the project. Hopkins would also ask the Met Council to make more of an investment than the cost of purchasing the remaining property in order to compensate the city for the extra effort of acquisition.
In addition, the parties must nail down who’s responsible for demolishing the 435 Blake Road property after its purchase.
Bradford plans to submit an agreement to council members for formal approval by their March 20 meeting.
Cottageville Park is a hard-to-find recreational area that had been a source of trouble for the Blake Road community. Neighboring buildings made it hard for passers-by to see into the park from the road, allowing crime to take place unnoticed.
A little less than a year ago, the park got a makeover when the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District demolished five buildings surrounding the park—opening it up and adding green space. Officials hope demolition of the two duplexes will further enhance the neighborhood’s image.