Stillwater seeks final comments on plan for riverfront park

The parcel near downtown has a lot of potential to connect visitors and residents to the river.

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Three years after acquiring a significant property on the St. Croix River just north of downtown Stillwater, the city is seeking public input one more time before it begins development of the park it has planned.

Potential uses include a canoe and kayak launch, picnicking, shore fishing (and from a pier), and other low-impact recreation. The site features spectacular views upriver towards the Boom Site and the high bluffs on either side of the river. It is a short walk from Main Street in Stillwater.

From the City of Stillwater:

The master plan includes a long-range vision for the park and guides future decisions about park activities, capital investments, reuse of the existing building, and natural resource restoration.

Sandwiched between the Brown’s Creek Trail and the river, the property includes spring-fed ponds and a three-quarters-of-a-mile of riverfront. There is also a family home on the property, built in 1965, as well as two smaller structures. Whether or not the house will remain has been a point of contention throughout the planning process.

Before the residential use, the property was home to sawmills, manufacturing plants, a railroad car paint shop, and other historic industries. Before that, it was the homeland of the Ojibwe and Dakota people and thousands of years of indigenous predecessors.

The total park development project is estimated to cost about $2.5 million. One million dollars of that would be to renovate the existing house, with a new heating, air condition, and ventilation system, legal requirements to provide accessibility for everyone, and other changes.

Previous input received by the city has factored into the latest version of the plan, including:

  • a connection to the Brown’s Creek State Trail
  • addition of an ADA accessible fishing pier
  • additional loop trails throughout the park
  • interpretive signage and trailhead facilities
  • restoration of vegetation and natural shoreline improvements

The property was acquired in partnership with Washington County and the state of Minnesota, with funds from the Minnesota Environmental Trust Fund (lottery proceeds), as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. (Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the source of state funding.)

Because it was acquired for a natural park, a conservation easement held by Washington County dictates what is allowed:

  • A public park
  • Restoration of natural environment
  • Provide “passive recreational uses”
  • No new construction
  • No increase in impervious surface area (roofs, paved areas)

Final comments on the plan will be accepted until November 13, 2020. Please email comments to planningdept@ci.stillwater.mn.us.

A summary of comments received will be included for Park and Recreation Commission review on November 26th. The City Council will consider the adoption of the plan in December.


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4 responses to “Stillwater seeks final comments on plan for riverfront park”

  1. Herman Real Estate Advisors Avatar
    Herman Real Estate Advisors

    Greg and St. Croix Community, A minor correction on the Ippel Park story. I was a member of the Legislative Citizens Commission Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and the champion funding for the Ippel Property acquisition. Those funds were NOT from the Legacy program, but rather from the Environmental Trust Fund from Lottery profits. This is an important distinction. The Environmental Trust Fund invests in a much wider range of environmental initiatives. Unique land purchases like this one being a good example. I’m sure the LCCMR would want to have credit on this extraordinary purchase.

    A great article. This will give a whole new way for visitors and our community to experience the river right in downtown Stillwater. John Herman

    1. Greg Seitz Avatar

      Thanks for the correction, John. I’ve updated the post!

  2. Allison Mcginnis Avatar
    Allison Mcginnis

    Did they ever decide in the name?

    1. Greg Seitz Avatar

      Not that I’m aware of.

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Stillwater seeks final comments on plan for riverfront park