Frogtown could get new urban farming parkby Jon Collins, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A new St. Paul park might land in Frogtown, a neighborhood short on green space but, for an urban community, long on interest in farming.
The Trust for Public Land announced Monday that it had negotiated the $2.2 million sale of a 12-acre parcel at the intersection of North Milton Street and West Lafond Avenue, the site of the former headquarters of the Wilder Foundation.
The proposed park includes an active play area, a nature preserve and an urban demonstration farm, where neighbors will be able to learn about different traditions of farming.
"Frogtown, as a neighborhood, houses a lot of disparate communities, and one of the things that we have in common is...an agricultural tradition," said Patricia Ohmans, a member of Frogtown Gardens, a community group that has been working for three years to turn the area into a park and urban farm.
"We all can come together from growing and sharing food," she said.
The layout of the land just lent itself naturally to the different sorts of uses proposed in this "new kind of park," Ohmans said.
St. Paul's 2008 park system master plan recommended that a park be located in the neighborhood. Bob McGillivray, a senior projects manager for the Trust for Public Land in Minnesota, said his group was moved to help Frogtown Gardens with the project because there is so little green space in the neighborhood.
The trust negotiated the deal, but the organization won't pay the $2.2 million for the park. The trust will work with public and private sources to pull together the necessary funds over the next 18 months.
"We would work together with the community and, we envision, the city of St. Paul to come up with the funding," McGillivray said.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman expressed support for the park in a statement Monday afternoon, but didn't indicate how much money the city could devote to the project.
"Wilder has been a trusted partner and ally of the City of St. Paul for many years, and with a lot of hard work, we are hopeful we can take advantage of this one-of-a-kind opportunity," Coleman said.
The Wilder Foundation said the land had been recently assessed at a value of about $5 million, but that the foundation sold the land at a reduced price in order to contribute to the quality of life of St. Paul residents.