We’ve made history! St. Louis Park has voted to accept Rock Island Park’s south parcel from MnDOT for no fee, and to buy the park’s north parcel for $187,000.
On May 1, 2023 the St. Louis Park City Council voted on the much-anticipated resolution to save Lilac Way’s historic Rock Island Park on 28th and Toledo Avenue.
The community banded together and showed strong support for the park’s preservation through a successful email campaign to urge the city to save it from development. They also sent photos for the Say YES! to Rock Island Park Virtual Rally.
Read the resolution, or my summary below the map. Then get more info about historic Rock Island Park, one of only three Lilac way parks left from a 1930s WPA project during the Great Depression. The other rock garden is in Lilac Way’s Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN.
Thank you to everyone who helped raise awareness for this park with your emails, photos and yard signs. It took a village, but we did it.
Here’s a summary:
- MnDOT officially offered to convey two parcels of land near 28th and Toledo to the city.
- The south parcel is 0.88 acres and includes the area now known as Rock Island Park, one of only two rock gardens remaining in MN. (The other rock garden is in Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN.)
- MnDOT is offering to give the land to the city for $0, requiring the city use it for park purposes.
- The north parcel is 0.81 acres, MnDOT is offering to sell the north parcel to the city for fair market value of $187,000, the offer letter does not appear to include any use restrictions.
- The city has until May 22, 2023 to acknowledge the conditions, accept the offer in writing, and pay for the land.
- In addition to the $187,000 cost to acquire the north parcel from MnDOT, the city would incur administrative costs and costs to maintain the property.
- The source of funds for the purchase will come from the development fund.
- If approved, the city will contact MnDOT and make payment before MnDOT’s deadline.
- After the city controls the south parcel, staff propose to initiate comprehensive plan and zoning map amendments to designate the parcel as park and open space (passive/open space use).
- After the city controls the north parcel, staff anticipate the land will be maintained as-is until there is public process with the community and council direction on the appropriate land use. (This is good news – it means we will be involved with the decision, and can rally the community to encourage them to maintain the land as open space and consider park usage for the community.)
- The details regarding the process and timing have not been determined but will be incorporated into future work plans.
After purchasing the north parcel, the city will determine how to use it – for open space, or development.
Rock Island Park’s north parcel is a large meadow that includes a long row of original lilacs, planted when the old Lilac Park was built during the 1930s. It also features native plants, deer and wild turkeys.
Since the city is able to purchase the north meadow parcel without use restrictions, that means that the land could eventually be used for development. We encourage them to keep this area together with the south parcel, with considerations for developing community spaces.
Councilmember Margaret Rog, Ward 1, said there won’t be any other news on this for some time because development staff are very busy with other projects.