Frogtown Park Deal Finalized
Unique new park and farm will serve Saint Paul’s most park-deprived areas
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that it had closed on a deal to create a new park and urban demonstration farm in the Frogtown neighborhood, one of Saint Paul’s most park-lacking areas.
“Saint Paul has some of the best green spaces in the country, and it is crucial that every family deserves to have easy access to parks,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “I am thrilled that we are adding a natural area in this historic neighborhood. For far too long, Frogtown has gone without enough parkland. Today’s announcement is truly a celebration for one of Saint Paul iconic neighborhoods.”
Frogtown has the lowest amount of green space per child in all of Saint Paul, .006 acres per child. The new Frogtown Park and Farm will offer a safe place for neighborhood children to play and experience nature. The 13-acre park will feature dozens of 50- to 100-year old trees, a recreation area, a sliding hill, an urban demonstration farm and beautiful hilltop views of the city.
“This was an underused, vacant space that will now be converted it into an easily accessible park,” said Susan Schmidt, Director of the Minnesota Office of The Trust for Public Land. “This new green space will benefit the current generation of Minnesotans, and many generations of Minnesotans to come.”
TPL paid $2.20 million for the property, which has a fair market value of $4.7 million. TPL immediately conveyed the land to the City of Saint Paul who will own and operate the park. The Wilder Foundation agreed to sell the property at a substantial discount to further its charitable mission and serve the Frogtown neighborhood. Wilder is a non-profit community organization that had owned this property since 1969.
“The Wilder Foundation Board agreed that dramatically decreasing the asking price would enable the neighborhood, the City and The Trust for Public Land to use this property in way that we could all be proud of as a community. We are thrilled that this park will be a reality for Frogtown residents,” said MayKao Hang President and CEO of the Foundation.
Funding for this project comes from state lottery funds (the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources), the City of Saint Paul and many individuals and foundations. In addition to funding for purchasing the land, The Trust for Public Land is also raising funds for initial improvements at the park, community engagement, and capacity building for Frogtown Farm, the nonprofit that will lease a portion of the land to operate a demonstration farm.
“This deal is exactly the type of partnership that makes Ward 1 great, and will bring our diverse community together to create positive change,” said Dai Thao, newly elected Councilmember representing this area of the city. “Too often we see roadblocks for these types of initiatives, but having all of these partners coming together to address a community need, is exactly the type of progress we need for Frogtown and the City of Saint Paul.”
The urban demonstration farm is one of the more unique aspects of the park. The farm will grow a variety of crops, and will also serve as a tool for teaching about environmental stewardship, community self-sufficiency, healthy living and community collaboration.
“Whether you want to throw a ball, relax under a shade tree, slide down a hill or learn about urban farming, this park will have something for everyone,” said Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm. “We’re excited, and grateful for the extensive efforts by the community and all of the partners to get us to this day.”
TPL closed on the transaction on December 4 after working on the project for many years. The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit land-conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 90,000 acres of important lands for conservation in Minnesota.
The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation is a nonprofit community organization that helps children, families and older adults in the greater east metro area of Saint Paul through direct service programs, research, leadership development and community building. Wilder serves thousands of low income and vulnerable children and families each year through mental health, education, housing, social adjustment, early childhood and aging programs. It builds community capacity through leadership development programs, community initiatives and collaborations that bring people together to solve complex social challenges. Wilder Research studies evidence and provides applied and practical research in the field of human services.
Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is a nationally accredited and gold medal award-winning organization that manages more than 170 parks and open spaces, AZA accredited Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, 25 city-operated recreation centers, four municipal golf courses, more than 100 miles of trails, an indoor and two outdoor aquatic facilities, a public beach, a variety of premium sports facilities, and Great River Passage - which is the new identity for all proposed public development along Saint Paul's more than 17 miles of Mississippi riverfront.