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Marathon donates land, money for Sittlow Park

Shown, are (in front left to right), Marathon Community Relations Coordinator Kara Klink; St. Paul Park Parks and Recreation Commission chair Dean Barton; Commission member Amy Vasterling; former city administrator Barry Sittlow; Marathon Refinery Division manager Ray Brooks; Mayor John Hunziker; Marathon Human Resources manager, Jaime DeLaCruz; city council member Sandy Dingle; and Commission members Tyson and Katie Schwartz. In back, from left, are city council members Steve Hunstad, Tim Jones and Jeff...

Marathon Petroleum Co., St. Paul Park, donated land valued at $165,000 for a new park on the St. Paul Park's west side in addition to $50,000 to help clear and prepare the property at the city council's Oct. 6 meeting.

"Our thanks to Marathon for a very kind gift," Mayor John Hunziker said Monday night.

The site will be named Sittlow Park in honor of longtime former city administrator Barry Sittlow.

"I'm absolutely overwhelmed," Sittlow told the council. "It's like frosting on the cake. I spend a lot of time in parks with my grandchildren and some day they and my great-grandchildren will point to the park and say 'that's named after my grandfather/great-grandfather.'

"Marathon has always been a good corporate citizen," Sittlow said. He began negotiations with Marathon nearly two years ago for land for a park on the west side of the city -- an idea initiated by members of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Sittlow Park is 1.52 acres of heavily wooded land on First Street between 10th and 11th avenues. Last February, city engineers produced a concept sketch of the proposed park which includes a half basketball court, benches and bike rack, play equipment and swings, open lawn and a picnic shelter with trees lining the perimeter.

Play equipment for the new park was donated by Crestview Elementary School, which moved its playground due to installation of a holding pond.

St. Paul Park Public Works supervisor Lee Flandrich said he expects to start working with contractors this month on initial clearing of the park site. "We haven't been in there yet to see what we have to deal with," he said Monday.