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Arden Park Restoration


Project Type:

Project Status: 
Current Status: 

The final project design was reviewed by the Edina Parks & Recreation Commission, Edina City Council, and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) Board of Managers in September and October. After review, the Edina City Council and the MCWD Board of Managers voted to approve the design and to solicit bids for the project.


Bid proposals will be accepted through 1:00pm on Monday, November 5. To bid on this project, please view the Instructions to Bidders.


The project design is based on the concept plan that was developed with community input over the course of 2017. The Arden Park project combines park improvements with natural resource improvements within the Minnehaha Creek corridor, including more access to Minnehaha Creek for fishing and recreation, a drier green space, stormwater management, and an upgraded playground and park shelter building.


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Minnehaha Creek at Arden Park
About this project: 

The City of Edina and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District are partnering to improve the creek, habitat and the public use experience in Arden Park. A conceptual plan was developed based on public input received over a period of 12 months. The plan is a balance of enhancements to the park that improve fish passage, wildlife habitat and water quality, while retaining the park’s natural character. Proposed project elements include replacing the 4-foot dam at 54th Street with a rock rapids upstream, re-meandering the creek, and providing more access for fishing and other recreation. Project design based on the concept plan will progress throughout 2018 with opportunities for community engagement at key milestones throughout project development

Natural Resource Improvements

The natural resources goals of the Arden Park restoration are being balanced with the community goals for the park. Our goal is to achieve a park that maintains its rustic character and public access for fishing and other recreation, while improving the water quality and flow of Minnehaha Creek, improving habitat, and managing stormwater.

Tree Preservation:

In response to community input, we have reduced the number of trees that will be removed during construction. And we will replace all trees that are removed, resulting in no net loss of trees. Trees that are removed will be replaced by 407 high-quality, diverse, native trees.

At the beginning of the design process, it was predicted that 90 trees in the park would impacted by construction. After hearing from the community that they valued preserving existing trees, the design was modified so only 79 trees that are 8 inches or greater in diameter would be removed during construction. The three willows by 54th Street will be preserved.

Of the 79 trees that will be removed during construction, 22 are ash trees that are at risk of infestation by the emerald ash borer and are targeted by the city’s emerald ash borer prevention program. Two are oaks that are already dying in the free skate area. In Arden Park, the city will remove 57 additional ash trees that are 8 inches or greater in diameter that are expected to become infected by the emerald ash borer. Three of the remaining ash trees will be treated and preserved as specimen trees, and other ash trees will be evaluated for treatment. The city also plans to remove invasive buckthorn from the park.

Green Space:

The community’s enjoyment of green space in the park will be improved by stormwater management features that will keep the area drier and usable throughout the year. A winter ice rink will also be maintained, as requested by the community.

Park Shelter and Playground: Please visit the City of Edina's website for more information.

Concept Plan

Arden Park Concept Plan

Project Update Emails

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Schedule (draft, proposed) 

Dec 2017 - Jan 2018: Collection of more technical data to inform design, refine the planned stream alignment to avoid trees, and develop stormwater management designs

Jan 2018: Public review opportunities to learn more about technical data gathered

Feb - Apr 2018: Design development, including trail details, overlook terraces and creek access, and stormwater management design

Feb - Dec 2018: Park shelter design developed with community input

Apr - Aug 2018: Playground design developed with community input

May 2018: Public review opportunities to learn more about the first phase of design

Jun - Jul 2018: Continue to refine technical design and project details, secure permits

Aug - Oct 2018: Public review opportunities to learn more about the finalized technical design and project details

Oct 2018: Finalize project design

Oct - Nov 2018: Solicit and award bids for project

Dec 2018: Phase one construction begins

May - Nov 2019: Phase two construction

Public Input 

Through a 12 month public input process co-led with City of Edina staff, a draft concept plan was developed for the Arden Park Restoration Project. 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.

The initial process included three planned community meetings to establish goals for the park and to develop a concept plan to achieve those goals. In order to ensure active community engagement, two additional community meetings were hosted for staff to continue to listen to and understand the goals of the community.

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.

Community engagement opportunities will continue to be available throughout the project design process.

Why Arden Park?

In 2014, the City of Edina and 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.

During project development for replacement of the 54th Street bridge, a bypass pipe alternate was designed to provide fish passage in the creek while preserving a valued recreational benefit associated with the dam. However, the standing wave that used to form at the dam no longer does 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.

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 creek 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 will 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. Learn more about the Greenway improvements that have been completed so far.

Minnehaha Creek Greenway Map

Concept Plan

On August 16, 2016 the Edina 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.

Why Remove the Dam?

The River Ecology Unit of the Minnesota DNR has studied the effects of dams (which fragment rivers and streams and slow water flow) and has found a number of interesting points about the effects of dams:

  • Aquatic biodiversity declines because fish (all of which are migratory to certain extents) and mussels cannot reach spawning and feeding areas, leading to a decline in species survival.
  • The altered habitat makes the natural community vulnerable to invasive and non-native species that do better in lake-like environments.
  • Accumulation of sediment above the dam and erosion below the dam disrupts the natural movement of water and sediment, which negatively impacts native species.
  • Nutrients and pollution accumulate behind the dam, water temperatures are higher, and dissolved oxygen is lower, all of which stresses native aquatic communities and is more favorable to non-native and invasive species.

For more information about the effects of dams, check out these resources from the Minnesota DNR:

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.

Arden Park Dam with and without water
The dam with water (on left) and when dry (on right)

Funding Priority and Budget Discussion

As a regional unit of government covering 178 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. This project is 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. 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.

The estimated total project cost based on the concept plan is approximately $4 million. The draft funding plan allocates approximately 40% of the costs to the City, 40% to the Watershed District and targets 20% in outside grant funds.