West St. Paul to rebuild historic Harmon Park

Since 1925, Harmon Park has been a staple of West St. Paul. The City Council on March 24 approved a plan to reconstruct historic Harmon Park.

The new plan involves six new baseball and softball diamonds, one outdoor hockey rink, a football/soccer field hybrid, and a new playground with a splash pad.

The baseball and softball fields will be equipped to meet the official Little League regulations for both sports. The basketball court will be reduced from a full court to just a half-court, based on the outlined drawings.

This will all be rounded out by a 159-stall parking lot, and the added lighting has concerned some nearby residents. West St. Paul’s Community Development Director Jim Hartshorn addressed those issues at the March 24 council meeting.

“There shouldn’t be much impact from the lighting as they are ‘zero luna,’ which means they won’t glare into their area,” he said at the meeting.

The whole project is estimated at $4.8 million, with payment being handled by the city through general obligation bonds.

From farmland to playfields

Before the area served as a public park, it was part of the Wolters’ Family Farm & Greenhouse operation. Council member Dick Vitelli, in fact, worked at the farm’s greenhouse at the age of 13, forming a close relationship with the Wolters family.

That greenhouse space is not part of the plans of the reconstruction, and will be replaced by the parking lot area.

“I spent a lot of hours there as a kid,” Vitelli said. “Everything changes, and this change is good, but it’s odd to see things go. Now, it’s a ballfield.”

“It’s had its moments of serving the people of West St. Paul, Mendota Heights, and the surrounding areas, and done a lot of good,” Paulette Wolters said. “To be recycled and back to ballfields is great.”

There will also be a pair of shelters: a warming house and a community room, which will also be constructed as designated storm protection areas.

Tim Faklis can be reached at 651-748-7814 and tfaklis@lillienews.com.

 

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