Hopkins celebrates new park, transformed neighborhood

HOPKINS, Minn. - An amazing transformation years in the making was celebrated in Hopkins Wednesday morning, as a proud neighborhood and dedicated shareholders cut the ribbon on the new Cottageville Park.

Located on the 300 block of Blake Road North, the five acre park sits where outdated apartments, duplexes and industry once stood. Today it is a quiet slice of green space in the heart of a bustling community, a place where kids can play on a state of the art playground… while adults can walk a series of meandering trails, read, or relax to the sounds of water bubbling over the rocks of a rehabbed Minnehaha Creek.

"I'm going to call this 'attitude park', because it just has an attitude that changed the whole community, that changed the neighborhood, that changed the way that people look at a park, the way people will use this park," said Hopkins Mayor Eugene Maxwell before the ribbon cutting ceremony. "You can come watch your children play in the park. And still be able to sit in a secluded place because of the walkways. There's time to get your mind organized, your mind straight, with the water, all the other amenities that help your attitude."

Nearly as impressive as the new park itself is the wide coalition of interests that came together to get a complex project done. The City of Hopkins, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Blake Road Corridor Collaborative and Clean Water, Land & Legacy Fund each had unique perspectives and goals going into the project, and each organization is more than satisfied with the outcome. Residents of this mostly low-income neighborhood have a beautiful place to play, gather and relax: Water advocacy groups see an urban creek returned to its natural, curvy course, with water quality vastly improved: and road corridor and infrastructure interests see the beautification of a busy street and once run-down neighborhood.

"This project is a great example of how groups with different goals can all achieve more when they work together," said Sherry White, President of the MCWD Board of Managers. "The community and city wanted better park land and open space along Blake Road. The MCWD wanted to restore the area around Minnehaha Creek and catch polluted runoff before it can enter the stream. We found that those interests overlapped quite a bit, and in the end, everyone got more of what they wanted."

"It's hard to build parks," reflected the Reverend Scott Searl of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and a member of the Blake Road Corridor Collaborative, referring to the challenges of navigating bureaucracy and reaching consensus. "It takes time, it takes energy, it takes the will of the community and all of the people who serve. It's also really hard to build community, and I think that's really the most important asset that got built here. Because now there's all this joy, and laughter, and families and opportunities for people to come together and know one another in a really diverse community."

Project planners say the park expansion and the removal of acres of paved and hard surfaces will treat storm water from 22 acres surrounding Cottageville Park, and keep 26 pounds of phosphorus and three tons of eroded soil from entering Minnehaha Creek each year.

A grand opening for Cottageville Park will be held at 4 p.m. this Saturday, October 3, followed by a movie in the park beginning at 7 p.m.


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