Sunday, December 30, 2007

A park...there?!?!

This summer, I was walking home from the Midway YMCA and noticed official-looking brown signs along a strip of grass on the north side of University Avenue that said "Park hours sunrise to 10PM..." I looked around trying to figure out where on earth this park was. Turns out, I'm not the first person to be confused. University United provides some history of this swath of greenspace:

"Dickerman Park is a linear green space on the north side of University Avenue in St. Paul, between Fairview Avenue and Aldine Street. It was donated to the City in 1909 by the Dickerman Investment Company and Griggs, Cooper and Company at a time when University Avenue was envisioned to become a grand landscaped boulevard. Because it has the appearance of private property, many people in the surrounding community are unaware that this plot of land is a City-owned park. It abuts the Griggs Midway Building; Midway Family YMCA; Metro Sound and Lighting; Community Learning Centers Building; and Marsden Maintenance/American Security."

Right now, there's not a lot to do there, cars go by on University, have a picnic and feel like you're trespassing. There's also not a lot to look at as you pass by on University Avenue either. In 2004 or so, University United partnered with the Minneapolis-based landscape architecture firm Coen + Partners and the photographer Wing Young Huie (who I wrote about last month), to develop a design plan for the park. There are some interesting ideas in it, but it's not clear that anything is happening any time for now, as you cruise down University, you can tell surprised passengers "hey, you see that lawn in front of that building? That's a city park!"

Image: University United

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