St. Paul leaders are taking the first steps towards a full-scale renovation of Rice Park, the downtown square that fronts on the Ordway and Landmark centers.
On Monday morning, the St. Paul Garden Club is giving the city a $46,000 check to begin the planning process for the 120-year-old park, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful urban squares in the country. Its fountain and large leafy trees provide the backdrop for numerous events and festivals.
Officials and community leaders said, however, that more events and more visitors are taking a toll on the park. The Ordway is adding a $75 million concert hall and the Landmark Center is undergoing a $4 million restoration, making it the right time to take a new look at how the park functions, said Amy Mino, president of the Rice Park Association, a private group dedicated to enhancing the park area.
"Rice Park is a jewel in downtown and requires a commitment from both the city and neighborhood groups to keep it looking beautiful," Mino said.
Following a public engagement process, a conceptual plan will be developed for the park that includes an estimated cost and a timeline for how the plan would be implemented.
The St. Paul Garden Club first planted 1,700 tulips in Rice Park in 1927, and has helped maintain the park’s growth since. Most recently, it purchased and installed 140 yew shrubs in the park.