ST. Paul, Minn. (Aug. 18, 2014) — The City of Saint Paul announced today a successful community effort to initiate a planning process for Rice Park, Saint Paul’s oldest park and one of the most beautiful urban squares in the country.
On Monday, August 18, the successful fund raising efforts of the Saint Paul Garden Club will culminate in a $46,000 check handed over to city officials. The funds will initiate a planning process for the park’s future.
The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. in Rice Park’s central fountain area (rain backup site will be the first floor cortile in the Landmark Center). Local officials will include Mike Hahm, Director of Saint Paul Parks & Recreation and City Council President Kathy Lantry.
“I want to thank the Saint Paul Garden Club for this contribution to Rice Park,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “We are fortunate to have incredible community gathering places like this one that help to create a sense of vibrancy throughout our city.”
Rice Park has served as a centerpiece for downtown Saint Paul since its designation in 1894 as a public square. Today the park is alive with daily visitors, weddings and annual festivals making it a four season destination.
Recent awards from the American Planning Association and the Sensible Land Use Coalition demonstrate that Rice Park is recognized on a local and national level.
“Rice Park has served the city faithfully. Years of hosting more events, bringing more and more visitors into the park has taken a toll. Now is the time to revitalize Rice Park,” says St. Paul Garden Club member Betsy Kelly.
Although the park is functioning well, new pressures on the park warrant a fresh look at the layout, internal circulation, connections between key landmarks surrounding the park, maintenance practices, and additional ways to support activities in the park.
According to Amy Mino, president of the Rice Park Association, an organization of neighborhood businesses and community groups, “Recent investment in the structures immediately surrounding the park, including a $75 million addition to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and a $4 million tuck pointing and historic tower restoration at Landmark Center demonstrates commitment to the neighborhood. Rice Park is a jewel in downtown and requires a commitment from both the City and neighborhood groups to keep it looking beautiful.”
The initial step in the process will be the development of a conceptual plan for the park. This includes a community engagement process, development of goals and a vision for the park, with a focus on programming, sustainability, and beautification. The final product will be conceptual layout and plan for the entire park that will provide enough detail on implementation of the plan for an initial cost estimate and phasing.
The Saint Paul Garden Club was founded in 1927 and is part of The Garden Club of America. Over the years, the club membership – all community volunteers – has continued to support, initiate, and participate in civic beautification and restoration projects, including Rice Park, where the club planted 1700 tulips in 1927. Since then, the SPGC has committed annual funds, planted new gardens, and planted and maintained the park’s planters. Most recently, the SPGC funded the purchase of 140 new yew shrubs and participated in their installation. Also, the SPGC has helped to provide funds to draft a plan to revitalize Rice Park.
The Rice Park Association is a private advocacy group which, in partnership with the City of Saint Paul, is dedicated to the enhancement of the Rice Park area. RPA is pleased to work in partnership with the Saint Paul Garden Club and other community groups to keep the Rice Park area attractive and enticing to visitors and residents alike.
Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is a nationally accredited and gold medal award-winning organization that manages 179 parks and open spaces, AZA-accredited Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, 25 city-operated recreation centers, four municipal golf courses, more than 100 miles of trails, an indoor and two outdoor aquatic facilities, a public beach, a variety of premium sports facilities, and Great River Passage – which is the new identity for all proposed public development along Saint Paul’s more than 17 miles of Mississippi riverfront. For more information about Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, visit www.stpaul.gov/parks.