Central Village Park
The $25,000 award will help finance a community-driven master plan for Central Village Park, addressing trails, site amenities, safety, programming, and traffic-calming solutions. Located in St. Paul’s historic Rondo neighborhood, the four-acre park has a complex history. The once-vibrant Black community there was all but destroyed in the 1960s with the construction of Interstate 94 and, later, urban renewal projects. In the 1980s, that development, along with the park, forced out hundreds of families, businesses and organizations. Just two blocks north of Interstate 94, the park is much-cherished, but after decades of disinvestment, it is in need of an upgrade. The revitalized park will serve the broader Summit-University community, the most racially and ethnically diverse in the city. Of 9,381 residents within a ten-minute walk of the park, 40 percent are Black, 34 percent Asian-American, and 7 percent Hispanic.
Springboard for the Arts, a partner on the Central Village Park project also received $80,000 in Equitable Communities funding provided through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists. Springboard will use this funding to hire a community-based artist organizer(s) to lead, guide, and administer park visioning engagement activities, support planners and landscape designers, and support the development of a park stewardship group. Additionally, funds will be used to make minor park improvements and celebrate the park’s history and diversity, as guided by community visioning.
Lower Phalen Creek Project
The $105,000 Equitable Communities award, a portion of which was provided through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, was used to hire and support efforts of an environmental justice coordinator, which is playing a central role in community engagement and outreach for the daylighting project for Lower Phalen Creek and efforts to bring equity to future land-use projects. Lower Phalen Creek Project is a Native-led environmental nonprofit in St. Paul with a broad mandate, including environmental education, urban conservation, and cultural healing. But when it started in 1997, its focus—as its name suggests—was trained on daylighting Phalen Creek. The creek historically flowed out of Lake Phalen, winding through what is now the city’s East Side and spilling into the Mississippi River. It was a critical corridor for the Dakota people, a place where they fished and gathered wild rice. But like many rivers, Phalen Creek by the 1930s had been diverted through a tunnel below ground to accommodate real estate development. Despite community surveys, exhibits, a feasibility study and design plan, the original goal of Lower Phalen Creek Project has yet to be realized. The grant will also go toward resurrecting the creek’s long-hidden waters.
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