Woodbury approves upgrades to Central Park
Central Park, the giant gathering space in Woodbury, is getting a $42 million makeover.
The City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday night to approve contracts for 38 jobs in a project that’s been a decade in the making.
“It’s great, we come here all the time,” smiled Hannah Nelson, from Woodbury. “It’s my second time today.”
The current space includes a garden atrium, complete with a fifteen-foot waterfall, work areas, a mini-amphitheater, and an indoor playground.
Peggy Nasby, from St. Paul Park, and her seven-year-old grandson Kenny, are big fans of the place.
“We sometimes spend a couple of hours here,” she notes. “I think it’s nice, the greenery and the little streams and waterfalls. It’s pretty special.”
The facility is now twenty years old.
The city’s website notes that ‘Lookout Ridge’, the indoor playground, is in ‘dire need of updates’ and that its equipment is ‘old, damaged, and worn.’
A 2019 study found the playground alone receives more than 23,000 visitors a year.
About $26 million of the project funding with come from the city and grants, Okada says.
Government partners, including Washington County, are contributing about $4.7 million, and the state is kicking in about $7.5 million.
Okada says the city funding will come from capital improvement funds, without a tax increase.
“We started evaluating what’s the future vision of this gathering space,” explains Michelle Okada, Woodbury’s Parks and Recreation Director. “Working with our project partners and seeing how the growth of the community has almost doubled in size when the facility was built.”
That future includes adding a 12,000-foot multi-purpose space that could accommodate up to 350 people, a new indoor playground, an enclosed amphitheater, and more eco-friendly heating and air conditioning.
“Solar and geothermal, things like that, so we can be good stewards of the environment as well, through upgrades of the project,” Okada says.
The project would also address maintenance issues and failing or inefficient mechanical and electrical systems.
Single and family user restrooms are to be added, as well as more parking spaces, and improved accessibility/people with disabilities features.
Hannah Nelson, visiting Central Park with her toddler daughter Madi and her 4-year-old son Noah, says the upgrade is a sizable investment, but says she believes it’s for a good cause.
“I know it’s used, all ages, right? So, we have my one-and-a-half-year-old here, but my grandma, who’s eighty-nine, comes here to play cards as well,” she notes. “There’s a lot of community events here. I mean. I think it’s an awesome resource that we have here in our community.”
Okada told council members that pre-construction could begin as early as February.
She says planners will try to keep Central Park open as long as possible before work begins.
Okada notes the library next door will remain open but will have a separate outside entrance.
The city hopes to complete the renovations and reopen Central Park by the fall of 2025.
“To allow people on dreary winter days like this to have a facility to go to,” Okada says. “Listen to our community, watching it grow and growing with it.”
You can find more information about the Central Park project, including renderings of the future renovated facility by CLICKING HERE.