Residents advocate for untouched woods near 40th & France

Credit: Photo by Damon Moss

Minneapolis is considering offers from St. Louis Park and Edina to buy land on the city’s western border near 40th & France.

Edina offered $1.072 million for 9.5 acres and St. Louis Park offered $579,813 for 4.8 acres.

A group of nearby residents is advocating to keep the woods natural.

Neither Edina nor St. Louis Park has committed to a specific plan for the land.

“We have had conversations, years ago actually, with Edina about the idea of doing some kind of more formal dog park on the site, and that idea has come up again. But nothing has been decided or solidified,” said St. Louis Park City Manager Tom Harmening. “It’s just conversation right now.”

As part of researching the purchase, Harmening said staff learned they could develop a couple of lots fronting France Avenue in the far northeastern corner of the site.

“We did do that kind of review, however there are no plans to do that,” Harmening said. “As part of acquiring the property you kind of like to know what you might be able to use it for in the future.”

Edina hasn’t yet determined how the land would be used.

“We have agreed to restrict our uses to park (including a possible dog park), open space, and utilities, most likely storm water management,” Edina City Manager Scott Neal said in an email.

Minneapolis purchased the land more than 70 years ago to expand the city’s water system, which is no longer needed.

Lesley Lydell lives a couple of blocks away from the woods, and she visits on a daily basis.

“Our core goal is to keep the land public and not developed,” she said.

Today she sees the woods used for class field trips, mountain biking, hiking and kids’ forts.

“It’s very far from the hustle and bustle of the city,” she said.

She marvels at the community effort to maintain the park — one man comes to empty trash cans on a weekly basis, she said. Residents from all three cities are advocating to preserve the woods, she said. The website chronicles the potential sale and features photography by Damon Moss.

“Setting aside public parkland — that’s the defining characteristic of Minneapolis,” Lydell said. “I’d like to believe that we still have that foresight.”

St. Louis Park and Edina initially offered a total of $1,074,000 in December, a number deemed the midpoint between developed and undeveloped land values. Minneapolis rejected the offer as too low, but city officials said they could discount the price if the cities committed to maintain open space on a portion of the site.

“If we do successfully purchase the property, I don’t think you’d see much happen there immediately,” Neal said.  “We do not have anything budgeted to improve this property.”

A public hearing on the sale is set for July 20 at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall. 


Photos by Damon Moss