Public capital projects often have a “wow” quality. The story of where the sidewalk used to end near the Highland Reservoir is not a “wow.” Instead, it is a brief story about how partnership and foresight can save tax dollars and improve our parks at the same time.
In 2021, Saint Paul Regional Water Services agreed to swap the old Highland Reservoir land to create much-needed sports field in exchange for land at Pig’s Eye Park. While crews were on site to demolish the reservoir and prepare the site for future athletic fields, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and your Conservancy partnered on a very tight deadline to obtain nearly $20,000 in Neighborhood STAR grant funds to add a public sidewalk to the land. By doing the work when construction was active, the project cost 46% less than by waiting until field construction began.
Until now, no public sidewalk existed along the east side of Snelling Ave between the historic water tower and Montreal Ave. This totally unsexy but important project filled in the northernmost portion of this gap.
The new sidewalk will benefit those walking to the new fields and using other non-motorized modes of travel. Additionally, the sidewalk will support visitors reaching the site by the Route 84 bus and the METRO A Line. The sidewalk will be maintained by Parks and Recreation after it is completed. The Parks Operations budget will pay for the maintenance. Once athletic fields are constructed on the nearby site, connections to the sidewalk will also be constructed.
So, while we love ribbon cuttings and new park openings, we’re honored to be able to partner in ways that improve neighborhoods and save money.