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Sittlow Park ribbon cut, open for business

St. Paul Park residents, area citizens and friends and family members of Barry Sittlow joined in the celebration Saturday when the park was officially dedicated. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss1 / 4
Barry Sittlow and his granddaughter Ava, 9, cut the ribbon Saturday, officially opening Sittlow Park in St. Paul Park. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss2 / 4
Children tried out the swings and other playground equipment Saturday during the dedication of Sittlow Park in St. Paul Park. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss3 / 4
Barry Sittlow, longtime St. Paul Park employee and visionary behind Sittlow Park, was honored Saturday during the park's dedication. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss4 / 4

Nearly four years to the day that the St. Paul Park City Council approved preliminary plans for the construction of Sittlow Park, Barry Sittlow himself, with the help of his granddaughter Ava, 9, cut the blue ribbon Saturday morning.

“This is just an enormous honor and I just can’t put into words how great of an addition to this community this park will be,” Sittlow said.

Sittlow, who was the St. Paul Park City Administrator for nearly 33 years, officially dedicated the park alongside longtime friends and family members who came from as far away as Colorado.

In October 2008, Marathon Petroleum Company donated the land, which was valued at $165,000, and gave St. Paul Park $50,000 to help clear thick brush and trees to make way for the new park. Later in 2009, the council signed off on construction plans.

“From growing up in my parents’ house about a block away and playing in this area as a kid, I have to say that this (park) is a proud moment for St. Paul Park,” Mayor Keith Franke told the roughly three dozen citizens gathered Saturday. “Going forward, I think the park is going to get a lot of use and it’s just been a perfect fit for our parks system.”

The playground equipment was originally installed at a school in Cottage Grove, but when the city sought upgraded equipment, Sittlow was instrumental in acquiring the jungle gym. The St. Paul Park Public Works Department, with the help of Midwest Playscapes, restored the play equipment and helped install it.

“This is such a pretty space and it’s a true testament to who he was in the community,” said Rachel Veretto, Sittlow’s daughter who came from Colorado. “We wouldn’t miss this for the world. I think this is going to be a great asset to the children in the community.”

During the dedication ceremony Sittlow thanked members of the past and present city council, Marathon Petroleum Company, and the dedicated workers of the city’s parks and recreation and public works departments for helping him bring his vision to life.

“From the bottom of my heart I will be forever grateful to all of those involved in making this park what it is today,” Sittlow said. “The hard work and dedication to detail is clearly evident in this park. It is an amazing thing to be honored by a city that has already been so good to me.”

Sittlow park is located on 1st Street between 10th and 11th avenues in St. Paul Park.