Passers-by may have not seen any physical transformations to since on newly expanded parkland. Yet planning is proceeding apace behind the scenes—with designers touring the site and reviewing community recommendations.
“That is a huge leg up for us—a great start for us,” said Bruce Jacobson—director of landscape architecture at Cuningham Group, the company overseeing park design.
Johnson detailed the design team’s work so far and the process ahead during a special meeting Tuesday at nearby .
That process will not be a simple one. About an acre of the now-three-acre park will need to be set aside for stormwater improvement in order to meet the water quality goals of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, which bought the additional parkland.
But Jacobson is confident planners will be able to mesh targets for issues as diverse as water quality, recreation and neighborhood improvement.
“Initially, those things seem at odds,” he said. “But by the time we get to the end, you’ll see a jigsaw puzzle that fits together quite nicely.”
To start, the stormwater improvement portion of the park will be “more than just a hole in the ground,” Jacobson promised. Designers envision incorporating educational elements and other ideas to make it an integral part of Cottageville Park.
Cuningham has brought a historian on the team to look at the Blake Road Corridor’s past and bring a sense of place to the park. (No one has yet been able to find out how Cottageville Park got its name, Jacobson noted.)
A specialist in art related to community and children will lead a participatory park design event. That event may lead to ideas for the park. Or it may lead to a permanent piece of art in the park—such as embedded resident-made mosaic tiles that generations can show off to their children.
The design team will generate ideas, discuss them with staff and show alternatives to the council. It also plans to present alternatives to the public.
“We want to be open to the opportunity to present the ideas before they get too refined,” Jacobson said.
It’s unlikely Hopkins will be able to afford all the improvements at once, but Jacobson promised “each phase of the project should look complete, intentional and fully functional.” Cuningham will also work with Hopkins to identify grants—particularly small grants that are readily available for projects like this.
Jacobson told council members the team is extremely excited about the project. He contrasted it with landscaping projects like the one used for the Vikings stadium and said he loves how easily the community can get involved.
“This is really where my heart lies. It’s really a great scale—a great way to see how government happens,” Jacobson said.