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Midway Peace Park

A new park in the Midway neighborhood of Saint Paul, at 416 Griggs Street between University Avenue and Saint Anthony Avenue, is the result of years of planning and collaboration led by the City of Saint Paul – Parks and Recreation Department and Trust for Public Land.  Other partners include Union Park District Council, Gordon Parks High School, Hamline-Midway Coalition, Lexington-Hamline Community Council, CommonBond Communities, and many others. The park will be a destination along the Green Line and an important local park for the neighborhood, area schools, and residents of the adjacent Skyline Tower.

The new three acre park will provide a play area, walking path, green space, basketball court, a unique stormwater channel and two rain gardens. Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) joined park planning efforts in 2018 to help with the stormwater management design process.

The Challenge

In 2009 the students and staff at Gordon Parks High School, a public alternative learning center in Saint Paul, envisioned a park adjacent to their school instead of vacant lots. Residents of nearby Skyline Towers, an affordable housing high-rise, joined in the call for a park noting there were not places nearby to enjoy outdoor space and for children to play.

The land along Griggs Street between University Avenue and I-94 was underused, inaccessible, and fenced off in an area that lacks parks and green space. The parcels varied from two acres of paved surface, to overgrown turf grass, weeds, and small trees. There was no stormwater management and polluted runoff would flow directly to the Mississippi River through storm drains.

Arial view of the future Midway Peace Park site before construction.

The park site before construction with a retaining wall, steep slope, and chain link fencing.

“CRWD’s grant program helped the City of Saint Paul build the unique water feature that carries stormwater through the park, and signage to explain the importance of water. Together these elements add a beautiful water channel and educational component that the City could not have achieved alone. “ - Mike Hahm, CPRP, Director, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation

The Solution

CRWD provided design assistance and grant funding for the stormwater management practices and water feature. The Trust for Public Land, the City of Saint Paul, residents, staff and students at nearby schools, and many other partners, worked together to secure funding, develop a plan, and design the new park. A water feature was discussed early in the planning process and all involved were interested in including innovative, green infrastructure practices on the site.

Results

Midway Peace Park includes a large field for free play, walking paths, full court basketball, gathering areas, shade trees, tables and benches, a multi-level playground, two rain gardens and a signature stormwater feature. The rain gardens with native plants absorb stormwater runoff from the park and adjacent parking lot and allows it to soak into the ground. They also provide habitat for pollinators and wildlife. The unique stormwater channel, located next to the playground and lower walking path, re-circulates pretreated stormwater from the upper rain garden. CRWD funded the stormwater channel and accompanying interpretive signage to raise awareness about stormwater and showcase how it can be utilized as resource. Clean water projects in this park collect and filter 1.5 million gallons of runoff to prevent pollution from reaching the Mississippi River each year.

A dragonfly sculpture by a local artist serves as a memorial to a former Trust for Public Land employee and CRWD Water Steward, Courtney Ryan. Playful mosaics by local artist Lori Greene are found throughout the park.

Beautiful interpretive signs in the park were created collaboratively with the City of Saint Paul – Parks and Recreation Department, Trust for Public Land, and a panel of residents for translations into several languages.

The park opened to the public in November 2020 with the park substantially completed. Final work will occur in spring/summer 2021. A grand opening celebration will be planned when it is safe to do so.