Fresh sand and a heat index of around 100 degrees had beach-goers flocking to Woodbury's Carver Lake to cool off.
On one of the hottest days of the year so far, about 40 to 50 people came to the beach Thursday to beat the heat in one of the city's most used parks.
Chas Dobbs of Eagan brought his two kids to the beach on Thursday to continue celebrating his 6-year-old son Jax's birthday from the day before. It was also a nice excuse to get out of the house, he said.
He said he prefers Carver Lake because the beach is cleaner and the water has less algae than the lake to which he used to bring them in Lebanon Hills.
"This is a nice place to be," Dobbs said. "We could have just sat inside all day in the air conditioning and eaten ice cream, but I wanted to get the kids out."
The city has been in the process of updating a number of features around the lake, including a new fishing pier and boardwalk, as well as adding grills and replacing large umbrellas, called "funbrellas" near the beach.
The boardwalk will likely be completed in the coming weeks and upgrades around the beach will begin after Labor Day, said Kevin Burshten, an assistant parks supervisor.
Park officials have noticed that the current boardwalk had a tendency to buckle, which made the surface uneven. It also did not have railings, which made it less than ideal for small children and people with disabilities.
As part of a separate project, the city is partnering with the Ramsey/Washington Metro Watershed District to restore shorelines and address issues caused by erosion.
Parks and recreation staff attributed the erosion to asphalt freezing and thawing on trails near the shore.
Fishing at Carver Lake is pretty decent, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the lake has a history of abundant northern pike and largemouth bass populations.
"We've seen some pretty darn nice fish come out of there," said Amy Howard, assistant director for parks and recreation.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency included Carver Lake to its list of impaired waters in its most recent update on July 13. The MPCA cited chloride levels and mercury found in fish tissue in its report.
Eating fish from impaired lakes is typically harmless when consumed in moderation, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Besides the swimming and the fishing, the park also includes mountain bike and walking trails, picnic areas and an archery range.
"It's probably one of our most well-rounded parks in the city," Burshten said.
The funbrellas along the beach will be replaced by four large shade structures, Howard said.
The city opted to take the umbrellas out because they are difficult to repair and the footing on some of the umbrellas are starting to come out of the ground, making them unsafe, Burshten said.
Construction on the boardwalk is under way and shoreline restoration will begin after it is installed in early- to mid-August.