The controversial Oakes Park lift station is set to be built in the northwest corner of the park—closer to nearby homes but away from valuable park space.
The City Council made the decision Tuesday night following meetings with Oakes Park neighbors and Park Board review.
The lift station is part of a complicated trade in which the Met Council gives Hopkins additional property for Cottageville Park in exchange for the Oakes Park property. At a March council meeting, neighbors fought back against the project. But City Council members voted unanimously to approve a lift station agreement.
The northwest corner of the park was the most popular location among the three options shown to residents, although only about 40 people attended the neighborhood meetings. It received eight votes from residents compared to six for the north central site.
Still, it had several advantages, said Public Works Director Steve Stadler. It offered lots of flexibility and open space. It’s a good distance from the playground. It doesn’t impact the picnic area. And it meshes well with the most popular uses of the park—namely soccer and cricket.
It also avoids cutting down the biggest trees.
“There’s no sense taking out some mature trees to put in a building,” said Councilwoman Kristi Halverson.
The runner-up was a north central portion of the park, near the existing picnic shelter. That would’ve been further from homes. But workers would have had to cut down several mature trees, and it offered less flexibility.
Councilwoman Cheryl Youakim was skeptical about the northwest corner since so many residents were worried about the lift station’s impact. Yet all eventually concluded that was the best option—voting 5-0 for the site.
Under the current timeline, lift station design will start this fall. The project will go out for bid in the spring of 2013, with construction beginning in the fall of that year. Construction will be completed in the fall of 2014.