Natural space is a work in progressMeadows Park has a bit of a split personality. One one side of a small hill there is a tidy playground, a half-court basketball surface and a shelter where families can gather for a picnic in the shadow of a water tower and the city’s second fire station.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
Meadows Park has a bit of a split personality. One one side of a small hill there is a tidy playground, a half-court basketball surface and a shelter where families can gather for a picnic in the shadow of a water tower and the city’s second fire station.
On the other side of the hill there are.... Well, there are a couple of small ponds where ducks paddled on a recent Saturday. There’s a nice bike trail. And then there is what appears to be a bunch of weeds.
Brown, matted weeds.
Rosemount park supervisor Tom Schuster knows that second part of Meadows Park doesn’t look like much now. But he also knows what it will look like in a few years, when the prairie savannah the city has worked to establish there takes root and the wildflowers and prairie grasses start to really show themselves.
“It will be more special as time goes on, but we’re only in our second year this year,” Schuster said. “After a few years, it starts to look pretty good.”
Sometimes it’s hard to get that message across to residents who are used to moving into a house, rolling out sod and having an instant yard. People tend to want scenic spaces and want them now. Schuster said he’s gotten complaints when the city has tried to establish similar prairie spaces elsewhere in the city, though he hasn’t yet gotten any about Meadows Park.
But Schuster is excited about Meadows Park. About what it is now and what it will be a few years from now.
When the park reaches its full potential there will be several types of wild grasses growing in clumps and showing off a variety of colors throughout the year. There will be flowering plants and there will be wildlife. The wild side of the park is already alive with the sounds of singing birds and chirping frogs, but Schuster said the grassland that develops will provide habitat for a number of other critters that would have nowhere to go if the park were all neatly manicured grass.
Schuster said the city is always looking for areas it can return to a natural appearance.
“(Meadows Park) was an area we looked and just said, we don’t want a soccer field up here. We just want to have some of our parkland look the way it might have looked 100, 125 years ago,” Schuster said.
There’s a lot more to making the park natural than simply not cutting the lawn, though. Getting Meadows Park back to its natural state took a lot of work. The city had to get rid of a lot of woody plants. Because of the expense involved Schuster looked for help wherever he could find it. A small picnic shelter at the top of the hill that divides the two sides of the park is the result of an Eagle Scout project.
“It may look unkempt, but we do go in there,” Schuster said. “We treat all the weeds that are not supposed to be there. The rest of it might look a little unkempt, but it’s not noxious weeds.”
Schuster expects a little more progress in the park’s development in the park this year. The native grasses will start to fill in and there might be some black-eyed Susans in the fall. Maybe some coneflowers.
The real payoff won’t come for a few more years.
“You just have to have some patience,” Schuster said. “You do these things knowing it’s not going to be instant gratification.”
He hopes residents will feel like it’s been worth the wait.