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What should West St. Paul do with vacant, city-owned land? One proposal is to turn it into a community garden.
Council Member Anthony Fernandez initially proposed community gardens for 1010 Dodd during the 2018 mayoral campaign. He brought the idea up again at the Oct. 28, 2019 Open Council Work Session (OCWS). The Council discussed a few ideas and passed it on to the Environmental Committee to develop a proposal.
The proposal coming back to next Monday’s OCWS includes 1,096 square feet of raised-bed gardens in a unique mandala formation, picnic tables, trees, seating, and a welcome sign. The proposal is estimated to cost $23,000, though staff hopes a majority of that amount could be raised through cash donations and volunteer time.
1010 Dodd is a vacant triangle of land south of the Smith/Dodd intersection. Acquired in 2015 for future economic development, the city demolished an existing auto shop on the site in 2016. Recently the site was used as a staging area for construction on Dodd Road, but with that project complete it’s once again vacant.
One of the challenges of the space is that it’s earmarked for a future realignment of the Smith/Dodd intersection. So any use of that space would have to be temporary—though no one knows how long ‘temporary’ will be. Considering MnDOT just finished work on Smith and Dodd, it’s unlikely any additional changes will happen any time soon.
The Environmental Committee put a ton of time into this detailed and considered proposal. While it’s good to do something with this unused space, it’s unfortunate that such a cool idea would ultimately be temporary. Though if temporary is 10 or 20 years, maybe that’s fine.
Is it worth $23,000—whether that comes from donations or the city budget?
You can weigh in on the proposal by contacting your City Council member.
Update Jan. 24, 2020: Council Reaction
The West St. Paul City Council discussed the proposal during their Open Council Work Session. They had some questions and reservations, but were generally positive and wanted to move forward.
“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Mayor Dave Napier. “We need this in our city.”
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