In 2009, students and staff at Gordon Parks High School, a public alternative learning center in St. Paul, originated the vision and started the movement for a vibrant, interactive park adjacent to their school in place of three vacant, fenced-off lots strewn with trash and abandoned cars. A year later, residents of nearby Skyline Tower, many of whom emigrated to St. Paul as refugees, joined the movement noting there were limited places nearby for recreation, relaxation, and gathering outside, and sharing that their kids would often resort to playing soccer in the narrow hallways of the affordable housing high-rise.  

This month, as we focus on Protecting Wildlife and Wild Places across our state, learn about how MEF member the Trust for Public Land worked alongside local community members, the City of St. Paul, Capitol Region Watershed District, and many generous local funders to advance this park from dream to reality over a decade.  

Mission:

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. 

The Trust for Public Land was founded in 1972 by a diverse coalition that believed all people need and deserve access to nature and the outdoors, close to home, in the cities and communities where they live, as a matter of health, equity, and justice. 

While many conservation organizations set aside wildlands for biodiversity or habitat restoration, their founders sought to bring the benefits of parks and nature to the places, people, and communities that needed them most. 

Midway Peace Park

Impact on one St. Paul neighborhood:  

In St. Paul, The Trust for Public Land worked to make the vision of local high school students and nearby neighbors a reality –  acquiring a 5.5 acre site along the Green Line LRT that became Midway Peace Park. The new park is designed to meet diverse community needs across ages and ethnicities, and will be accessible to over 6,000 local residents within a 10-minute walk.  

In the fall of 2019, The Trust for Public Land celebrated the start of construction with those whose vision brought the park into being and a diverse group of community partners. Work was finished and the park opened for play and restoration in November 2020. The new three-acre park provides a walking loop, an open field for playing soccer, an outdoor ampitheater,  mosaic art by local artist Lori Greene, a play area, benches for sitting under the shade of new trees, a unique stormwater channel and infiltration ponds, as well as a full basketball court. 

Quick Facts about TPL’s Midway Peace Park project in St. Paul: 

  • Replaced over 2 acres of paved surface with much-needed green space 
  • Preserved 18 trees 
  • Planted 57 deciduous shade trees, 9 ornamental trees, and 7 coniferous trees 
  • Removed 25 trees which were self-seeded, stunted or dead 
  • Provides storage and allows infiltration for over 370,000 gallons of stormwater (which is over half of an Olympic swimming pool! 

From City of Saint Paul Website: 

“Midway Peace Park has reached substantial completion and is open to the public.  When it is safe to do so we will have a grand opening to celebrate. “ 

The vision of area youth and neighbors, dedicated partnership of folks including TPL, and unwavering excitement and enthusiasm of everyone involved is truly inspiring and illustrates the impact of making land publicly accessible. 

Get Involved: 

Our public lands are under threat. We are facing an uphill battle to fight national monument rollbacks and cuts in conservation funding. You can help save it. Take Action for Public Lands – 

  

To learn more about how MEF members are working together to protect wildlife and wild places across Minnesota, visit the Impact page of our website.

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