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Neighbors Still Feel Left Out of Oakes Park Discussions

At a Wednesday community meeting, residents said they haven't had sufficient opportunity for input.

(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect location for the current lift station. The existing lift station is across the street from Cottageville Park on the northwest corner of Blake Road and Lake Street.)

 

neighbors are still speaking out against the city’s decision to allow a lift station in the park even as the Metropolitan Council proceeds with its planning process.

The Met Council hosted a meeting Wednesday that was intended to offer residents a chance to learn about the project and discuss the design. But several residents still wanted to address the city’s decision to locate the new lift station there in the first place.

Echoing concerns voiced at a March 23 City Council meeting, residents charged that the city had not done enough to get public input on the decision to locate the new lift station, or wastewater pumping station, in Oakes Park.

“You invite us in for our input, and there’s nothing to input,” said one resident who lives nearby.

“The location decision has been made, and our charge tonight is to understand your concerns about this park,” said Charleen Zimmer, who facilitated Wednesday’s meeting for the Met Council.

The Met Council presented initial site plans for the new during the community meeting—fielding questions from residents concerned about potential odors, traffic and the loss of green space as a result of the estimated $10 million project.

The proposed construction, , will see a roughly 2,000 square foot lift station built in the northwest corner of Oakes Park, which would force the removal of a hockey rink at that location.

All of Hopkins’ wastewater is currently processed by a lift station across the street from that was built in 1971. Following completion of the new facility, the old building will be razed and the land converted to park space.

Adam Gordon, a Met Council engineer involved in the project, estimated that construction of the Oakes Park lift station will start in the summer of 2013. The new lift station is expected to be able to serve Hopkins for the next 60 to 80 years.

In addition to numerous concerns about potential odors from the lift station, residents also worried about potential property tax increases and noise pollution.

Gordon explained that new lift stations are built with odor control systems that eliminate perceptible odors. There is no risk of Hopkins’ property taxes being raised as a result of the project, as the Met Council is not empowered by the state Legislature to levy tax increases.

Construction of the lift station building is expected to run a full construction season and will entail the same types of noise and traffic disruptions that accompany any major construction project. The majority of construction entails building the facility’s underground substructure, which is about 30 feet deep.

“I won’t be two-faced about the impacts of construction,” Gordon said. “It’s a big hole.”

However, several residents were still not convinced that Oakes Park is the best location, arguing that other sites that would not take up park space in Hopkins had been overlooked or ignored.

City Engineer John Bradford countered that, of the sites considered by the city and Met Council, none were as viable as the one in Oakes Park.

“It becomes a balance between cost and impact and finding something that would work,” he said. “Finding an open space is really challenging in this area.”

The Hopkins City Council approved the lift station agreement with the Met Council at its March 23 meeting.

While some uncertainty about the lift station’s final location within Oakes Park remains—alternate suggestions have included the park’s northeast corner, where there are currently tennis courts, as well as the park space where a cricket field is located—the Met Council expects the facility to eventually be built in the park’s northwest corner.

The time and location of the next meeting about the lift station project are not yet available. The Met Council plans to unveil sketches of several proposed plans at that meeting, which is expected to take place in late June or early July.

 

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