Changes planned for the Stillwater riverfront could remake the city's connection to the river in ways not seen since the creation of Lowell Park, the city's main riverfront space, more than a century ago.

The list of projects under consideration includes: two new riverfront parks, a boat launch, a 300-foot dock, at least two picnic areas, fishing piers, canoe and kayak launch, public bathrooms along the city's Loop Trail and a building that could house programs on river ecology or learning to fish or kayak.

The worksites stretch from the city's northernmost riverfront to its southern edge, with a dash of work planned in the middle with the restoration of the Lowell Park gazebo. The changes come just a few years after the city reopened its historic Lift Bridge as a bicycle-and-pedestrian-only river crossing and remade the road leading to the bridge into a public plaza. Also in the works nearby is a new DNR boat launch on the St. Croix River, with construction expected to start this year just south of Stillwater in Oak Park Heights.

The city's projects could total about $10.9 million. That includes $5.4 million for the new Lumberjack Landing park, $5.1 million for the new Bridgeview Park and about $400,000 for improvements to the Lowell Park gazebo. Some of the funds have already been provided, including a $6 million state grant, a $1 million private donation and a $50,000 DNR grant for the Lumberjack Landing kayak launch. The city says it could use another $3.3 million to complete all of the riverfront projects and may turn to a local sales tax referendum this November to raise it.

Here's what could be coming between now and 2026:

Lumberjack Landing and Aiple house

At the city's northern boundary sits Lumberjack Landing, the new riverfront park planned for a 15-acre property purchased from Elayne Aiple more than a decade ago. It's taken years to get to this point.

Some design work has begun on the Aiple house renovation and invasive buckthorn has been removed from the forested site, according to city staff. Plans for the Aiple house provided to the City Council last month show the north area of the house would serve as a paddleboard and boat storage area with an indoor/outdoor picnic pavilion for the rest of the building.

The park would include a connection to the Brown's Creek Trail due west from the Aiple house. A kayak launch and fishing dock would sit just to the north of the house, and an old garage could be converted into a picnic pavilion that would overlook a pond on the property.

More significantly, Stillwater Vice Mayor Mike Polehna said he's talking to the National Park Service about making the park an entryway to the St. Croix Scenic Riverway, a national park that extends north up the river starting at the St. Croix Boom Site.

"This is a really nice opportunity to showcase that Stillwater is the gateway to this national park," said Deb Ryun, executive director of the Wild Rivers Conservancy of the St. Croix and Namekagon. The Osceola, Wis.-based nonprofit often works with the National Park Service on river programming for students and adults, and would love to establish a volunteer presence at the new park, she added.

Some of the programming could include classes on fishing, birding, kayaking, river ecology or other river-related topics, or even kayak trips upriver to the nearby rookery that occupies an island south of the Boom Site. "It would be a marvelous opportunity," said Ryun.

Bridgeview Park and Shoddy Mill

The city's second new riverfront park, Bridgeview Park, will sit just south of downtown, with a dock, boat launch, park, trails and renovations of the Moritz Bergstein Shoddy Mill and Warehouse. The views from the site are unlike anything else in Stillwater, with a clear view to the south of the St. Croix Crossing and to the north of the Historic Lift Bridge.

The park would feature the city's longest public dock at 300 feet, a public facility that would give boaters an easier way to tie up and walk into town. It could have a fishing pier at each end, according to preliminary designs. The dock would not be available for overnight stays. Farther south, the park would include a separate boat launch facility and parking lot along with an open park area.

The park's centerpiece would be the Shoddy Mill and Warehouse buildings, which today sit across the road from the Oasis Café. A renovation plan is still coming together, but several options presented to the City Council include a patio, a sheltered gathering space and public bathrooms. Some of the gathering space in the first floor of the two-story mill building could be enclosed with a glass wall, making it available for year-round public use.

For all of the options, the mill building's second story would be restored but not opened for public use, according to Stillwater city engineer Shawn Sanders.