A major overhaul of Arden Park in Edina is underway, a project that involves altering the path of a section of Minnehaha Creek and removing a 4-foot dam that created rapids and a popular fishing hole.

The $5.3 million collaboration between the city of Edina and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District also will add a park shelter building, playground, trails, creek accesses and an updated hockey rink.

The changes are designed to boost the ecological health of the park, near the 50th Street and France Avenue commercial district, while retaining its natural character.

Removing the dam and adding curves to the creek will restore more than 2,100 feet of bank and add 230 feet to the creek’s length, smooth its gradient and improve wildlife habitat, district officials said. Stormwater management features will be added to filter street runoff before it enters the creek.

The project also includes removal of buckthorn and ash trees, the planting of about 400 new trees and the expansion of pollinator habitat. The work is expected to be completed by November 2019, with much of it being done by Rachel Contracting of St. Michael.

Plans for the project proved controversial a couple of years ago when neighbors opposed to removal of the dam organized under a group named “Save the Waterfall.”

On the other side were neighbors who supported the project and said the pool created by the dam was stagnant.

Arden Park will be closed during construction, with work taking place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.