Nearly 700,000 people visit Battle Creek Regional Park each year to hike, cross-country ski, picnic, splash at the water park or run their dogs.
But there’s untapped potential at Ramsey County’s largest regional park. Officials hope a new master plan will identify community members’ wants and map out a bright future for the nearly 2,000-acre park, which straddles the St. Paul-Maplewood border.
County park planners are seeking feedback on some ambitious ideas: A nature center? Sculpture garden? Snow-making capabilities? Maybe some new playing courts and fields?
“Battle Creek is a beloved regional destination for all. We’re excited to think big and open up new opportunities for park users that are inclusive and forward-thinking,” said Mark McCabe, Ramsey County’s Parks and Recreation director.
“We want people of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds to feel welcome and represented in our park. That starts with hearing from the public.”
It’s the first time in 30 years the county has worked to update the master plan, which will prioritize infrastructure updates and identify new recreation opportunities with an eye toward serving more people.
There’s an inkling the community may be interested in new types of playing courts and facilities to accommodate tuj lub, a traditional Hmong sport pronounced too-loo, and takraw, a kick volleyball game that originated in Southeast Asia. The county installed tuj lub courts at Keller Regional Park in 2016.
“Where we have served our more traditional audiences in the past with playground and picnic facilities, we are looking to try to meet more culturally specific needs,” McCabe said.
Battle Creek, which contains woodlands, wetlands, grassland and many wildlife species, is the largest of Ramsey County’s six regional parks and the second-most visited, behind only Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park in Shoreview.
Its biggest draws are the picnic shelters, hiking trails, off-road cycling trails, a cross-country ski network and dog park.
In the summer more than 26,000 people visit Battle Creek Waterworks, a children’s water attraction. County officials are doing a market analysis of Waterworks, and the master plan could include upgrades to that area as well.
After listening to public input, park officials hope to present their ideas for Battle Creek’s master plan next spring. The plan will need approval by the Ramsey County Board and by the Metropolitan Council, which oversees and funds Twin Cities regional parks.
Ramsey County already is moving forward with a project to upgrade the playground and picnic facilities at Battle Creek, to be funded with $800,000 in state Legacy Amendment funds. Work on the playground could start this year.
Battle Creek “will be a more regional destination,” said Ben Karp, Ramsey County Parks project manager. “It will be quite large with water play and nature play areas. It will be integrated with picnic areas.”