Saturday, December 9, 2006
Park plan pledges
to keep it natural
But city will
revamp northeast entrance
Just let it be.
That's essentially the philosophy behind the recently unveiled
master plan for Patrick Eagan Park's 114 acres of woods, wildlife
and wetlands in central Eagan.
The park has become central to resident and environmental
groups' efforts to create the city's core greenway, a two-mile
stretch of public open space that cuts through the heart of the
suburb. Pieced together since 1975, the most recent parcel of
parkland was acquired in 2004.
"As more and more development occurs, people have realized that
there is a limited quantity of green space," parks director Juli
Seydell Johnson said. "We are so fortunate to have this land. It's
largely been left alone and the public is aware of how rare and
valuable that is."
Now that much of Patrick Eagan is intact, the city in May
launched a six-month effort to draft a plan that would guide its
management through the next two decades.
The master plan, released in November, fundamentally will leave
the park the way it's been, with constrained development like trail
extensions and a revamped entrance. It's been a balancing act to
keep the land pristine, as officials waded through the seemingly
contrary forces of preservation and accessibility.
"Our intent has always been to keep it natural," Seydell
Johnson said. "We knew it was a gem, but the question was how to
open it up and have people come here without causing damage."
With an eye to the park's location between two art venues — the
Eagan Art House and Caponi Art Park — the plan calls for the park to
be "primarily used and managed for natural resources, passive
recreation, quiet contemplation and for nature/arts interpretation
The city in May hired consultant Hoisington Koegler Group to
develop the master plan and the City Council unanimously approved it
in November. The time between was devoted to public meetings and
John Ward, co-chairman of the Friends of the Eagan Core
Greenway, was one stakeholder the city consulted. His group formed
in 2001 to protect the park after the council looked at converting
part of it into a golf course.
"This process was good, and the whole thing was very open,"
Ward said. "They solicited input, got it and actually
"It's as protected now as it can be for a working park," he
said. "With the plan, it's in the city's official interest to
protect it. Anything with a master plan tends to stick with that
plan instead of straying off course."
Under the plan, city crews will enhance parts of the park by
removing invasive species like buckthorn, while leaving more
unspoiled areas alone. The bulk of the improvement will be confined
to the northeast part of the park, near the Eagan Art House, where a
new parking lot and entrance will be built.
"The entrance is not well-established. Right now you either
know it's there or you don't," Seydell Johnson said.
In addition to trail extension and improvements, the plan also
calls for a new picnic shelter, park benches and overlook areas with
views of McCarthy Lake.
The improvements will take at least 20 years, with the new
entrance likely to be done within the first three.
"This is very long term," Seydell Johnson said. "It's expensive
and when dealing with the natural environment, restorative efforts
are a step-by-step effort."
The master plan can be viewed on the city's Web site at www.cityofeagan.com
"Parks & Recreation"