After about a decade of maintaining the status quo, Maplewood has placed renewed interest -- and dollars -- into its parks.

The latest work -- a $500,000 redevelopment project at Lions Park on Farrell Street -- was begun this week. The three-acre park will be excavated then reworked with a new ball field and landscaping.

The plans for the park were created around the creek there and using natural resources, said Jim Taylor, parks and recreation manager for the city.

The new space will feature a butterfly garden, berry thicket and creek crawl, Taylor said.

"Kids are naturally very intuitive," said DuWayne Konewko, community development and parks director. "They're good natural scientists. We need to acknowledge that."

The park's namesake organization, the Maplewood Oakdale Lions Club, will be donating $30,000 for a shelter at Lions Park.

Konewko said the city also is currently working on a redevelopment project at Joy Park on Joy Road that involves rehabbing the boat launch and shoreline of Silver Lake. Joy Park's first two phases cost about $600,000, he said, and a third phase of redevelopment may be approved.

Next, his department will seek approval for work at Goodrich Park on North St. Paul Road, but Konewko said the entire development process could take up to two years.

The park projects fall in line with the City Council's 2010 goals of reinvesting in parks and recreation, as well as seeking sustainability throughout the city, he said.

Emma L. Carew