Construction Begins on Minnehaha Creek Restoration Project in St. Louis Park
Yesterday the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD), in partnership with the City of St. Louis Park, began construction on a restoration of 4,500 feet of Minnehaha Creek in St. Louis Park. The project, from Louisiana Avenue to Meadowbrook Road, will restore curves to the straightened channel, treat large amounts of urban runoff and improve public access with trails and canoe landings that will enhance recreational enjoyment of the creek.
This project is the latest phase of a large-scale restoration of Minnehaha Creek, which had been channelized and largely hidden from view as a result of urban expansion. The restoration started with a creek re-meander and trail/boardwalk system at Methodist Hospital that was completed in 2009 and will continue with additional work upstream in Hopkins (see map).
"This area, back in the 1930's and after World War II, saw a lot of change," said James Wisker, MCWD's Director of Planning, Projects and Land Conservation. "Wetlands were drained and filled, which increases the amount of pollution going into the stream channel. This project, in combination with others, will slow that water down, hold it on the landscape, and reduce the amount of pollution that makes it into the creek and downstream to Lake Hiawatha."
"If you've ever gone down the creek in a canoe, which I have, you'll notice that historically land use has turned its back on the creek," said St. Louis Park City Manager Tom Harmening. "You see the back sides of buildings on the creek. The creek wasn't seen as an asset; it was seen perhaps as more of a liability, or utility in terms of disposing stormwater. We're changing that. We want to turn toward the creek and enhance our use of the creek and view it as an asset."
When complete, the public will enjoy a restored Minnehaha Creek that has cleaner water, helps communities manage stormwater, provides trail linkages to the Cedar Regional Bike Trail and the planned Southwest Light Rail Transit line and is an amenity for the surrounding area.