Help us name four parks in the new Highland Bridge development, the city of St. Paul asked its residents. Close to 100 people heeded its call.
Many suggested they be named after Ford models — Escape Park, Fiesta Park, Model-T Park and Mustang Park — because the site used to be the Detroit automaker's manufacturing plant.
Others wanted to honor well-known St. Paulites, including Wigington Park (in honor of the nation's first Black municipal architect, Clarence ("Cap") Wigington, who designed the neighborhood's historic water tower) and Carter Park (in honor of St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and his parents).
Still more focused on the natural world, with earthier contenders: Chickadee Park, Goldenrod Park, Dog Poo Park.
The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday approved four winners picked from the 302 submissions: Gateway Park, Assembly Union Park, Uŋči Makha Park and Míča Park. The parks, part of one of the largest redevelopment projects in city history, will open by 2022, according to developer Ryan Cos.'s project website.
Uŋči Makha (pronounced oon-CHEE ma-KAH) and Míča (pronounced MEE-cha) are Dakota words that Indigenous community members helped select. The former means "Mother Earth," and the latter means "coyote" — an ode to the canines often spotted around the development.
Assembly Union Park recognizes the former Ford plant and employees that worked on the site, while Gateway Park represents an entry point to the development and St. Paul.
"I'm so excited to welcome these new parks to Highland Bridge and Ward 3," Council Member Chris Tolbert said in a statement. "The chosen names for these public spaces reflect a myriad of our city's histories."
Construction is underway on the development, which is transforming the 122-acre industrial site into a modern urban village with more than 3,800 new housing units.
Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478