By Alaina Rooker
Greenfield councilors got a concrete glimpse of what Central Park will look like after its $25,000 revamp this fall.
The council also heard from more residents pleading for greater police coverage.
At the Sept. 4 meeting, Hoisington Koegler Group’s Sarah Evenson presented three possible uses of the pollinator plantings grant won by Greenfield from Hennepin County. By installing native pollinator plantings, the stormwater pond on the property will stabilize and improve and diversify natural resources in the park in general.
The plans will fulfill the main project to some extent, which is prairie seeding south of the parking lot, around the back of the ballfield, along the new pond and swale. The three options presented an additional planting at different areas of the park.
The three options are as follows:
1. Pollinator planting north of the parking lot near the shelter. This would connect the plantings to exisiting lilacs planted last Arbor Day by Rockford Area Schools students. From the original bid of $38,456, Hoisington Koegler believes minor cost savings could bring the actual cost to $31,146. Cost savings include keeping current chokeberries near entry, and foregoing black plastic edging for a more natural spade edge.
2. Introduce plantings and trees around the playground. Sarah Evenson said that residents often complain that the playground is too starkly center and shadeless, and this option addresses that problem. The original bid sits at $25,086, but spade edging could free up money to replant of dead spruce north of the parking lot.
3. Playground and entrance plantings. This would replace the chokeberries with pollinators and include the playground plantings from option 2. This option also cuts out the prairie seeding south of the parking lot, but keeps the seeding around and in the pond. The original bid is $26,928, but could borrow the same adjustments from option 2.
The bids on the project were by Minnesota Native Landscapes, the lowest of two bidding companies. With adjustments, option 1 is still $6,000 over budget; option 2 is over by $3,000.
All plans also include three years of maintenance; after, the plantings should be well established in their habitat. An educational sign to familiarize park-goers with the plantings and their benefits would cost just under $1,000, but is also stipulated in the terms of the grant and would be completed by Vacker.
The council was hesitant that trees around the playground could inhibit future expansion, and that pollinators put too close could attract bees.
City Administrator Bonnie Ritter confirmed that currently no expansion is needed according to the Greenfield master plan.
Evenson addressed the bee issue, saying HK had proceeded with pollinator plants as stipulated in the grant, despite council discussion on the potential harms of pollinator species like bees that would populate the area as a result.
She added that many other cities appeal to the “nature interaction” of park visitors with the plants and the wildlife they invite. The educational sign also would work to dispel myths and explain benefits of pollinator species.
However, she understood the concern. “I’m a mom, too,” said Evenson.
No option appeared to strike the council as most favorable; Evenson was directed to create a more detailed line breakdown of costs to be presented at a future meeting.
In other news, another strong turnout for public comment continued the support for an increased police presence in Greenfield. Seven residents came to the town hall to speak.
Resident Carol Beseeker claimed there was a palpable lack of presence despite no change in contracted hours.
Ten year residents Steve and Rosemary Mallory came to the podium to pledge support of increasing protection, as they believed the number of incidents hadn’t increased but the severity had. Steve warned that the council and Hennepin County shouldn’t “wait for the statistics to show there is a problem,” and to instead focus on prevention.
Resident Rudy Thomas also pledged support at the podium, saying “I’m all for it and I’ll pay for it. We don’t need 15 full-time folks, but we need a whole one, or at least approaching it.”
Resident and business owner Heidi Erickson came before the council again, saying through her activism to get others involved she had been repeatedly told to take matters into her own hands. Erickson had previously invited business owners to speak with her at the Aug. 24 meeting.
“‘Get a gun, get a dog, take care of it yourself,’” she recalled comments she received from neighbor connect website nextdoor.com. She was concerned this attitude could unnecessarily escalate civil disagreements.
Of the support for more coverage hours, others suggested alternatives, like establishing a community watch program.