Help guide the Swede Hollow master plan

The City of St. Paul is working to create a master plan for Swede Hollow Park that will help guide future programming or improvements at the park. 

City staffers Cheeneng Yang and Brett Hussong held a community meeting April 24 at Hope Community Academy to share collected survey results and get community feedback about potential goals or priorities for the future master plan. 

Overall, survey results and community feedback showed interest in improving access to the park, providing more interpretation about the history of the park and maintaining its overall natural feel while also enhancing natural features, like daylighting Phalen Creek by bringing it back above ground.

 

Maintain a natural resource

The master plan process began last summer with a series of themed tours at Swede Hollow, highlighting the current conditions of it, as well as its immigrant and indigenous history. The master plan project is being funded by a series of grants from the McNeely and Bush foundations.

The Lower Phalen Creek Project, working with the city, surveyed users or potential users of the park at a number of community events between October and March to find who uses it, how they use it and what their priorities are for it.

The survey garnered 318 responses. Of the respondents, about 22% were indigenous, 6% were Latinx, 17% were black, 8% were Asian and 47% were white. Compared to city demographic data about who lives near the park, white respondents were overrepresented in the survey, while some people of color were underrepresented.

Most of the respondents to the survey said they walked, hiked or jogged through the park and that the elements they enjoyed most included the nature, an escape from the city and the history. 

Asked about the stories respondents would like to see shared about Swede Hollow Park, the top two stories were the history of the people who lived in the hollow, as well as the importance of flowing water. A number of people also said they wanted to see more of the indigenous history of the park shared.

Up until the 1950s, Swede Hollow was home to a variety of St. Paul immigrants, including Irish, Swedish, German, Italian and Mexican. The hollow was filled with homes right along the creek. Before European settlement, indigenous people traveled the creek between the Mississippi River and Lake Phalen, passing through the hollow. 

The survey showed that the top limitations to the park’s use included the sense of safety in it, accessibility and a lack of programming.

 

Priorities

One of respondents’ most popular priorities for the park was eventually daylighting Phalen Creek and creating more visual access to the moving water. 

Yang said that while the city would only be involved with the part of Phalen Creek that runs through the park, the idea of daylighting multiple parts of Phalen Creek is a project currently being researched by the Lower Phalen Creek Project and Capitol Region Watershed District.

The survey also showed that desired improvements to the park include better signage, more access to the creek and clean water, as well as more natural resource management, more gathering spaces, trail improvements and public art.

The 20 or so community members at the meeting, who largely agreed with the survey results, added that improving access to the park should include making sure that neighbors with limited mobility can get there. They added that intentional outreach should be conducted with local apartment dwellers and the homeless.

The meeting’s presentation also included sites and areas in the park highlighted as “opportunity areas,” which would benefit from improvements, such as the area on top of the bluffs at the intersection of Margaret and Greenbrier streets, and the green spaces near St. Paul Brewing and the Drewry Tunnel entrance.

Yang said the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which owns the space near the old Hamm Brewery and St. Paul Brewing, has interest in creating an outdoor area near the brewery for taproom customers to use.

Over the next few months, city staffers will begin to draft the plan and Yang said they are looking for more feedback from the community. It’s estimated that the plan will be finished by the end of the year. 

To view the entire presentation and meeting notes from the April 24 meeting, go to www.stpaul.gov/SwedeHollowMasterPlan. For additional questions or concerns, contact project manager Cheeneng Yang at 651-266-6414 or send an email to cheeneng.yang@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

The next Swede Hollow master plan meeting will be held Wednesday, May 22, 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Hope Community Academy, 720 Payne Ave. All are welcome.

 

–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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