All underground work is complete, above-ground amenities taking shape
Becker Park is looking more like the moonscape than a city park these days, but the renovations taking place this summer and early fall will transform it into the jewel of Crystal.
As one of 27 parks covering 260 acres across the city, the longtime home of the Crystal Frolics, Becker Park will not host the event this summer. Instead, the festival has been moved – for this year only – to Welcome Park.
While the celebration gets underway at the end of this month, Becker Park’s landscape will continue to be transformed into a facility that is expected to meet the needs of city residents for decades to come. By year’s end, the park will have received upgrades that will provide a new performance area, plaza area, fountain and picnic pavilion, among other improvements.
Since this spring, much has been accomplished, but there is much more yet to do, according to Crystal Recreation Director John Elholm.
Now at about the halfway point of reconstruction, the major underground work completed, the park has been stripped of all paths and playground equipment and construction of the new playground area, the restrooms, walking paths and the interactive fountain area are beginning to take shape.
As for the playground equipment, Elholm said that it has all been ordered from the manufacturer.
“Right now, as you drive by, you will see a bunch of poles sticking up in the air – those are for the sun sails.”
The sails will be placed in the middle of the park as part of a new shade structure. “They will be over the patio that’s in the middle of the playground,” he added.
Elholm indicated that work in erecting the playground structures will probably begin within the next month.
The construction and installation of the equipment will be completed by certified installers.
“The playground equipment is fairly complicated and you actually have to have certified installers that do it. So there’s only ... three or four crews that are able to install it. So, we have one of the certified crews doing that. For safety and such you have to be sure things are getting installed properly.”
As for the shade sails, Elholm said they would probably be one of the final pieces installed in the park. Because the park won’t be open for several months, he said that there is no need for the shade sails to be installed until the park is being used.
One of the more visible features in the park at this time is the restroom building, which is currently under construction. There will be two unisex bathroom stalls included in the building.
In addition to the installation of the plumbing for the restroom building, Elholm said the concrete floor has also been poured for the structure.
As for the concrete walking trails that have been planned for the park, workers are making steady progress.
“So, the way they do that is they start around the perimeter of the park and then they basically work toward the bathroom building. You’ll see a lot of the edges done and if you drive by it looks like there’s a lot done. But if you go over by the bathroom building there’s pretty much no concrete poured yet in that area,” he explained.
The storm water infiltration project, which was included in the underground phase of the project, has been installed. The storm water infiltration gallery has been built under the lawn to filter runoff into Upper Twin Lake and reduce street flooding.
The projects within the park, including all the concrete and the above-ground construction work of the water facilities and band shell, must be completed before the groundwork is finished.
“So, all the pavement needs to be in, the shelter must be up and everything else is done. They will smooth out the black dirt before they seed and plant trees,” Elholm said. “That will all be done this fall.”
With the re-opening of the park not expected until the spring, Elholm said the city leadership has already penciled in a grand opening for Saturday, May 16, 2020.
Despite the wet conditions this summer, Elholm said there haven’t been any significant delays because of the weather, nor for any other reason.
“You know, there’s been quite a bit of rain on and off, but it hasn’t slowed things down much at all,” he said. “One of the nice things about this particular site is that it’s mostly sand. And that’s one of the reasons the groundwater infiltration project is going to work so well. The water goes into the ground fairly quickly.”
Comments from the general public, according to Elholm, have been positive.
“The general comments are that things are looking great. But if people do ask about things at the park, we send them to beckerpark.com. We keep that website updated and it’s got the latest information.”
While there will be no ballfields at the refurbished Becker Park, there are now two fields at Welcome Park, with the newest field constructed last year to be used during the 2019 Crystal Frolics and beyond.
However, the basketball and tennis courts that were at Becker Park before construction began will remain there. “We just worked around them,” Elholm said.