City unveils preliminary vision for Ojibway Park

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When the city of Woodbury decided to renovate a city park last year, officials told planners to first dream big. Now that dream is beginning to look more concrete.

On Wednesday, March 15, Woodbury city staffers unveiled the first of likely several concepts of what may be to come at Ojibway Park, during a Woodbury City Council meeting.

The preliminary plans, while not set in stone or factored for cost, could bring more connective trails, an ecological observation in a restored wetland, a central activities building and an upgraded bandshell with updated audio and visual technology.

While a number of city officials expressed interest in the details presented at the meeting, Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said "it's a matter of prioritizing when the cost gets in."

The city estimated $318,362 for upgrading the parking lot and $412,000 for replacement a park building, as well as $612,000 for a refrigerated ice rink.

Of the known costs, the project includes $44,600 for site planning, design, and cost estimating, as well as a 10.5 percent fee for construction preparation.

Last summer, the city hired Lydia Major, a Twin Cities landscape architect, to lead the park's planning process.

In past months, the city has also drawn feedback from a number of residents, community organizations and athletic groups on what they feel should go into Ojibway Park's renovations.

Major said a number of themes have emerged since the planning process has moved forward.
"We want to ensure that Ojibway Park continues to be a community-wide asset," she said.

The themes Major noted include making the park more visible from the outside as well as drawing on the natural habitats and trails to make the park more cohesive.

Ojibway Park also serves for community events, such as the Woodbury Days, and several sporting events and tournaments on the fields and skate park.

Planners also presented concepts on restoring a wetland and adding an overlooking pier for park-goers to observe its ecosystem.

Throughout the feedback process, a number of people have criticized how the trails in the park connect, Major said.

The plans she proposed would include better navigation signs as well as a 5K trail contained within the park.

Woodbury Council Member Amy Scoggins said she agrees that additions making the park easier to navigate are needed.

"For a long time, I didn't even know that there was anything there beyond the baseball fields," she said. "There's a lot there that people don't know about. However we could achieve that would be good."

A part of the discussion also focused on what could be added immediately and which items could be phased in over time.

Optional items added to the park's wish list included firepits, a patio overlooking the bandshell and a water play feature.

Some council members, however, expressed skepticism about a play area where children get wet.

Council member Andrea Date said while features like the splash pad at Madison's Place Playground can be fun for kids, parents might face difficulties when they don't plan for their children getting wet.

Council member Christopher Burns said he'd like more confirmation that Woodbury Days plans to hold the annual event at Ojibway Park.

"We might want to consider space, especially if we're drawing more people," he said, adding that movie nights can sometimes draw a thousand people.

Making the park more accessible for people with disabilities, "so they can continue to enjoy those events," is also something Burns said he'd like planners to keep in mind.

Planners also included a refrigerated ice rink as part of the initial concept at Ojibway Park. City staffers said that the Woodbury Area Hockey Club might use the rink through a potential partnership with the city.

The alternative would be to leave the existing rink as a neighborhood hockey or pleasure skating area.

Woodbury resident Kim Wilson said she was lukewarm about a refrigerated ice rink at the park.

She told city officials that when her children played hockey, coaches and players sometimes found skating on outdoor ice was more difficult than at an indoor arena.

Ojibway Park planners said they hope to have a more finalized plan for Ojibway Park in June.

Major said that the group hopes to also gain more feedback during the upcoming Woodbury Community Expo.