The newest development in St. Paul has gone to the dogs — literally.

OK, bad intro. But on Thursday, the St. Paul Mayor Chris Colemen and other dignitaries, including his pooch Roscoe, celebrated the grand opening of a new off-leash dog park under the Smith Avenue High Bridge near the Mississippi River. It’s officially called the HIgh Bridge Dog Park.

St. Paul’s second dog park comes after the city struck up a land-use agreement with property owner Xcel Energy. The seven-acre patch was previously used for a coal power plant, that has since been demolished and remediated. The city did not release cost figures for the project.

The park is fenced and has a double-gated entry and a large parking lot right under the HIgh Bridge, which connects Irvine Park to the West Side bliffs. The park is accessible by taking Randolph Avenue past Shepard Road down to the Mississippi River. Xcel has planted a mix of grasses tough enough to withstand doggie traffic.

This is the second dog part in St. Paul even though roughly one third of the city’s 278,000 residents own dogs. Until recently, Arlington/Arkwright on the East Side was the city’s only legal off-leash park.

Saint Paul said it plans for additional off-leash dog parks at Lilydale Regional Park, Indian Mounds Regional Park, Meeker Island, and two additional locations at Upper Hidden Falls and Lower Landing Park.

“Xcel Energy is delighted that the land we previously used to release the energy of coal is now a green space to release the energy of Saint Paul’s dogs,” said Judy Poferl, CEO of NSP-Minnesota. “It’s truly been a collaborative effort with the city of Saint Paul, and we are happy that so many dogs—and their owners—will get to enjoy the freedom of an off-leash park.”

Coleman said residents made it clear that they wanted more dog parks, “I’m happy we were able to partner with Xcel Energy to create this space for owners and pets to enjoy,” he said.

We’re assuming Roscoe likes it, too.

Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.


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