A legal battle that has lasted for years between the city of St. Paul and Exxon Mobil Corp. has ended.

The two sides signed off last week on a deal to transfer 36 acres of a former oil tank farm in the West Seventh neighborhood to the city.

Under the agreement, the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) will pay the company $1 and promise to use the land only for a park.

In return, Exxon Mobil will give $5 million to clean and redevelop the property, which is between W. 7th Street, Otto Avenue, Shepard Road and Montreal Way.

"This agreement provides both the land and substantial funds to the HRA to complete the current site restoration efforts and eventually give the community a beautiful park -- an excellent outcome for all parties with benefits extending well into the future," said Kim Moore, regional program coordinator for ExxonMobil Environmental Services.

Cleanup of the pollutant petroleum hydrocarbon will take two or three years, and 4 feet of clean dirt will be put down.

The Parks and Recreation Department will begin a process with the community early next year to figure out what the park should look like. It could have playgrounds, trails, open spaces or sports fields, but stadiums or other enclosed buildings would not be allowed.

David Bredemus, president of the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation, said the park will benefit the whole city and be a "spectacular spot."

The 36 acres are part of a 65-acre parcel that had once been envisioned as Victoria Park, an 850-unit housing development.

The land was once the site of separate oil tank farms owned by Koch Refinery Co. and Mobil Oil Corp. Both companies ended operations there in 1995, and that's when neighbors and the city began to eye the land.

Koch sold its land, but Exxon Mobil didn't want to if the city was going to build housing on it. The company was concerned about future liability because of contamination.

In 2004, the city began condemnation proceedings, and the ensuing court fight and negotiations led to an agreement in October.

Chris Havens • 612-673-4148