Victoria Park
Unspent grant money from the Minnesota Twins will be used to help install a synthetic turf field this year for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse in Victoria Park.

A planned $1.1 million multiuse athletic field at Victoria Park will receive a $210,000 boost toward its construction this year as part of funding approved by the Saint Paul City Council on June 23. That followed a decision by the city’s Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) Committee on June 14 to transfer funds for the project.

The Victoria Park field, which is intended to be used for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse, is located on Victoria Way and Adrian Street, a block south of West Seventh Street. It is more than 40 acres in size and is part of a larger parcel that was once the site of two fuel tank farms.

The project already had about $900,000 in hand. The remaining funds come from a CIB Committee transfer of $448,210 in unspent grants from the Minnesota Twins.

CIB Committee chair Darren Tobolt said he was pleased to see the project move ahead after years of planning. The field was first called for in a city park master plan that dates from 2010.

Alice Messer, design and construction manager for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said park staff will soon present an update on the project to the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation.

The Victoria Park field will be laid with synthetic turf. Work will include grading the site and installing utilities. A partial fence will be installed to keep errant balls out of the street while still allowing public access. A pedestrian connection to Adrian is also planned.

CIB Committee chair Darren Tobolt said he was pleased to see the project move ahead after years of planning. The field was first called for in a city park master plan that dates from 2010.

 

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If bids are favorable, other items could also be added to the project, including lighting, picnic tables and benches, and improved spectator seating.

At most, the field is expected to require parking for 80 vehicles. A 40-space parking lot is planned and there are more than 130 on-street parking spaces nearby. The city is also looking at shared parking agreements with adjacent property owners.

The site was once envisioned for housing, but an agreement reached with longtime owner ExxonMobil in 2009 stipulated that it could only be used as a park due to liability concerns. ExxonMobil sold the property to the city for $1.00 and provided $5 million for environmental cleanup and redevelopment. Most of those funds were spent on the former; the remainder is being used for the field.

Park planning took place between 2010-2014 by a city-neighborhood task force. Work has already been done on other areas of the park, including trails and landscaping.

The field has generated some controversy in the West End neighborhood. Some neighbors have worried about spillover lighting and parking. Others have countered that there is a huge need for more field space in the area, especially with the loss of the fields at the former Riverside School site on West Seventh and Lexington Parkway. The former fields are now the site of the Lexington Landing senior housing development.

— Jane McClure

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