The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has provided updated plans for changes at William O’Brien State Park that were announced last fall. While construction — and closure the east side of the park — were expected to begin this spring, the project will now kick off in September. It is expected to take about one year.
The primary purpose of the projects are to upgrade and improve facilities in the lower part of the park, including the Riverway Campground and Riverside Group Camp, as well as the Walter Mondale Day Use Area. Updates will focus on accessibility for disabled visitors, including campsites and buildings that comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“Many facilities in the state parks and trails system are aging and do not comply with current state or federal accessibility standards or best practices,” the DNR says. “We are continually making improvements to make our parks and trails more accessible as funding allows. The research is clear, time spent in the outdoors has great health and wellness benefits, and it’s a priority of the DNR to make our parks and trails accessible to all people who want to enjoy the benefits of outdoor recreation.”
On the April 29 episode of River Radio, park manager Wayne Boerner said it will also include work on the popular Riverside Trail, which runs along the St. Croix River. The trail was originally developed as an accessible trail, but needs restoration to provide a level and solid surface. Another part of the plan is to reconfigure parking and roads to improve safety in the busy area between the beach, picnic area, boat landings, and trailhead.
Other projects in the lower park were contingent on legislative funding. The legislature did include $1.6 million in such funding in its final environmental omnibus bill.
The area affected by construction and closures is only to the east of Highway 95, comprising about 10 percent of the park’s total land base (and including popular facilities like the boat landing and Lake Alice swimming beach). The rest of the park will remain open during construction, including campgrounds, trails, and the interpretive center.
Project open house
Thursday, June 15, from 4-6 p.m.
Wildwood Library, Zephyr Room
763 Stillwater Road, Mahtomedi, MN 55155