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Arden Park Restoration


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About this project: 

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is a regional unit of Government which manages water resources across 181 square miles from Victoria – the headwaters of Halsted Bay of Lake Minnetonka, through the chain of lakes to the Mississippi River. Our investments in clean water and natural resources are driven by opportunities to layer natural resource benefits with community goals which best integrates the improvements on the landscape and cost effectively leverages public investments.

Why Arden Park?

It is part of the District’s long term vision to restore the creek from Minnetonka to Minneapolis in a way that connects people and communities to the resource and that leverages multiple investments. Due to urbanization over the previous century, the creek has been ditched, dammed, wetlands filled and urban runoff has increased which has led to the Creek being listed on the State’s impaired waters list. Click here to find Minnehaha Creek TMDL Study and click here to find Minnehaha Creek Stream Assessment 2003

Arden Park would be the latest in a series of improvements along Minnehaha Creek that is returning the formerly ditched and ignored stream into a vibrant, healthy and beautiful natural resource that connects and enhances the communities it flows through.

The project will complement the work that’s been done upstream by enhancing wildlife habitat, treating polluted stormwater, adding flood storage and improving access for recreation. For more on the improvements that have completed so far visit

Why Remove the Dam?

In 2014 the City of Edina and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) identifying areas of collaboration within the realms of land use planning, stormwater management, economic development, flood mitigation, parks and public land management, greenway development and water resource improvements. Under that MOU the District and City examined options for removal of the existing dam within Minnehaha Creek in conjunction with the City’s W. 54th Street bridge replacement project. The dam, which was installed pre 1938, is a barrier to fish passage and degrades aquatic habitat.

From an ecological view, the dam has altered the function and value of the creek system by removing a mile of habitat for spawning and forage for fish below. It increases residence time of water and surface area making the water warmer, increasing algal growth and accumulation of decaying vegetation which uses oxygen and creates an environment that is not good for fish or the in-stream insects that fish eat. To learn more about project benefits see link below.

Public Input

During project development, a bypass pipe alternate was designed to provide fish passage while preserving a valued recreational benefit associated with the dam. However, the standing wave no longer forms following flooding in 2014, eliminating the recreational value to kayaker enthusiasts. At the request of the community and written support from the kayak group the fish bypass pipe was rejected in favor of a more holistic approach of removing the dam.

Through a public input process co-led with City of Edina staff, a draft concept plan was developed (see link below). The concept plan was guided by a project team that included City staff, Watershed District staff, Park Board members Eileen McAwley and Julie Strother and a consulting landscape architect.

From the start of the development of the concept plan we have heard that the community values the natural character of the park, wildlife and recreation within the park. Other themes have included safety of people crossing 54th Street and overall maintenance of facilities.

Concept Plan

On August 16, 2016 City Council authorized a Memorandum of Agreement with MCWD establishing a cooperative framework to jointly develop a Concept Plan for Arden Park which integrates channel habitat improvement and stormwater management with the goals of the City’s Strategic Plan for parks, recreation and trails, and integrates the riparian environment into the public use experience.

The Arden Park concept plan layers multiple natural resource benefits and community benefits. It includes restoration of over 2,000 feet of stream channel and the potential to treat over 100 acres of stormwater runoff which currently flows untreated off our streets into the creek – all which attract and improve conditions for fish, birds and other wildlife – layered with multiple benefits for the community: connecting people visually and physically to the creek with vegetation restoration, providing formal and informal access to new fishing throughout the park, making in-creek recreation more accessible to a larger cross section of users (tubers, kayakers, paddle boarders), providing safer, easier access and portage without crossing 54th Street, and a new, multi-purpose shelter building.

Concept Sketch

Concept Sketch

Funding Priority and Budget Discussion

As a regional unit of government covering 181 square miles, the District’s funding priorities are evaluated based on natural resource opportunity combined with the ability to leverage a multi-agency partnership to maximize community benefit and the financial investment of the partners. If the City of Edina wishes to partner with the District on this restoration project it would be considered a high priority project for the District because it is an opportunity to remove the dam and further rectify decades of impact to the creek system in accordance with our mission in a way that leverages multiple community benefits in partnership with the City. Likewise, the City of Edina has competing priorities across the City with limited funds. The opportunity to leverage outside funds for the City park may prioritize City investment in Arden Park.

There are currently no funding commitments from either agency. The estimated total project cost based on the concept plan is approximately $4 million. The draft funding plan allocates approximate 40% of the costs to the City, 40% to the Watershed District and targets 20% in outside grant funds.

Schedule (draft, proposed)

May 9, 2017: City Park Commission review and discussion of concept plan (no public comment opportunity but a good opportunity to listen to a presentation and learn more about the project)

June 6, 2017: City Council review of cooperative agreement for coordination and cost sharing

June 8, 2017: MCWD review of cooperative agreement for coordination and cost sharing, final approval scheduled June 22, 2017

July – Dec. 2017: Permit initiation, consultant procurement, design initiation

Jan – Jun 2018: Complete design of creek improvements, stormwater management, trails and vegetative restoration

Nov 2018 - June 2019: Construction of creek realignment, stormwater management, demolition of shelter building, trails and vegetation

June 2019: Construction of new shelter building