The City of Saint Paul today celebrated the grand opening of Uŋčí Makhá Park, a brand-new 6.4 acre park at the Highland Bridge development. The new park features an off-leash dog park, nature-based playground, two beach volleyball courts, fitness lot, hammock grove, two picnic shelters, and a newly restored section of Hidden Falls Creek.
“Access to green space shaped by our community is vital to realizing an active, healthy, and thriving Saint Paul,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “Today’s grand opening reflects our commitment to bring these spaces to our residents and benefit our entire city.”
Uŋčí Makhá (pronounced Oon-CHEE ma-KAH) translates to “Grandmother Earth” in Dakota. The name was recommended by Dakota community members and represents the significance of the water within Uŋči Makhá Park flowing through the creek into nearby Bdote, a sacred site central to the Dakota creation story. Later this year, Saint Paul artists Marlena Myles and Rory Wakemup will further the connection and understanding of the Dakota creation story through an art installation incorporating sculpture, murals and an augmented reality exhibit at Uŋčí Makhá Park.
Prior to its restoration, the creek leading to Hidden Falls had been routed underground through a storm sewer in preparation for construction of the Twin Cities Assembly Plant around a century ago. The newly daylighted creek now flows through a bedrock ravine that serves as a unique place to explore during drier periods and is designed to flood with stormwater during rain events.
“Nearly a decade ago, Capitol Region Watershed District, the City of Saint Paul and many partners began dreaming about restoring the headwaters of Hidden Falls Creek at Highland Bridge,” said Mark Doneux, Administrator for Capitol Region Watershed District. “Today, that dream has become a reality. The restored creek along with several other clean water features, above and below ground, not only adds beauty to the neighborhood, but also helps protect the Mississippi River. We are thrilled to have been a part of this once in a lifetime project.”
The creek flows along a pedestrian path that travels under Mississippi River Boulevard and leads to a plaza above Hidden Falls. The path to the plaza, known as Mississippi River Boulevard Crossing, will open in September. A second phase of the Mississippi River Boulevard Crossing project will eventually connect the network of trails within Highland Bridge to Mississippi River Boulevard Regional Trail and Hidden Falls Regional Park.
“I am thrilled to welcome Uŋčí Makhá as Saint Paul’s newest park,” said Councilmember Chris Tolbert. “Built by union workers, this one-of-a-kind amenity connects the Highland Park neighborhood to Hidden Falls and our beautiful Mississippi River. Uŋčí Makhá is a great addition to Saint Paul’s world class park system.”
Uŋčí Makhá Park is located at 2230 Montreal Ave. This is the second of four new City of Saint Paul parks to be constructed at the Highland Bridge development. Future park opening dates at Highland Bridge will be announced as those parks are completed.