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A nicer walk in the park

Cottage Grove City Council members last Wednesday approved a concept design for improvements to the northern portion of Hamlet Park in an effort to spruce up what Mayor Sandy Shiely called "an eyesore."

The long, narrow northern section of the 112-acre park, squeezed between Hadley Avenue and West Point Douglas Road, will see significant changes under the plan unanimously approved at the July 18 meeting. Some features of the design include:

  • Enhanced landscaping along the eastern side of the park, buffering it from noise and views of the nearby railroad tracks
  • Planting of native vegetation for the "naturalization" of the park
  • A picnic area
  • Tiered seating naturally fitting into existing slopes that will overlook the pond
  • A fountain to be placed in the pond, helping aerate and improve the water quality -- one suggestion the city received at a neighborhood meeting on July 9.

    The goal of the improvements, city officials said, is to further a "gateway" feel to the city in the area near Highway 61 and 80th Street.

    "This is a park that has traditionally been used a lot by people for walking," Shiely said, "and the entrance for people from the (Sieben) Bridge is pretty much an eyesore. So I'm pretty excited."

    The project -- expected to cost approximately $500,000, according to city administrator Ryan Schroeder -- will be paid for entirely by $584,000 in park dedication fees received from Presbyterian Homes, developer of the senior living facility on the former site of the Cottage Square Mall. Another $114,000 of the development charges will be collected from developers of the planned Norris Marketplace commercial properties, sometime this year or next, he said.

    But with increased landscaping and vegetation come heightened costs to maintain the plantings, warned city council member Mark Grossklaus.

    "These things are great opportunities to beautify the city, but there are costs that come with maintenance," he said. "The more elaborate we get the more costs there are."

    But Candace Amberg, a representative from the plan's designers, Brauer & Associates, said the large number of native plantings planned for the park will somewhat reduce the maintenance burden on the city.

    City officials anticipate work on the project to begin in spring 2008.

    Jon Avise can be reached at

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