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Fish Creek Trail Grand Opening was held June 22nd.
Throughout most of Thursday, June 22, rain fell in periodic bursts and, when it wasn’t raining, the ominous sky suggested only a temporary lull. However, not long before the official grand opening of the Fish Creek Trail at 7 p.m., blue sky replaced the rain clouds, and the celebration was on.
More than 100 people attended the bluff-top ceremony to enjoy the sweeping views, rolling prairie, wild flowers, towering trees, and tidy creek. The 70-acre city-owned site is adjacent to 140 acres of open space owned by Ramsey County. The City and County have worked collaboratively to create a truly unique space.
The Fish Creek Trail and the preserved space around the trail had been the vision of neighborhood residents for more than 20 years. Those residents worked tirelessly to see their dream become a reality, even when it appeared the land might be developed into housing. Eventually, the Conservation Fund purchased the land and held it until $2.2 million could be raised.
“I remember when the Fish Creek project was still in its earliest stages,” City Manager Melinda Coleman said. “To be there on a beautiful night, surrounded by the people who made it happen, was very special and I am grateful for the dedications to this project.”
In addition to the City of Maplewood and Ramsey County, the project was also supported by the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, the 3M Foundation, Friends of the Mississippi River, Great River Greening, and countless individuals. Grand money was also provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Trust Fund, and grant money secured by Maplewood’s legislative team: Sen. Chuck Wiger, Sen. Susan Kent, Rep. Leon Lillie, Rep. Peter Fischer, and Rep. JoAnn Ward.
Maplewood City Councilmember Kathy Juenemann was also a strong advocate of the project.
DuWayne Konewko, Maplewood’s parks and recreation director, singled out Maplewood Natural Resources Coordinator Virginia Gaynor for her work on the project.
“She championed Fish Creek from very early on,” Konewko said. “She worked with residents, elected officials, nonprofits, you name it. Her passion for the project was contagious.”
Maplewood Mayor Nora Slawik also supported the project as mayor and when she was a member of the state legislature.
“Fish Creek has been a long time coming,” Slawik said. “It’s an extraordinary site that will be enjoyed for generations. Fish Creek is really an example of what happens when individuals, nonprofits, and governments come together to tackle a shared goal.”