South St. Paul passes referendum to improve parks

Under plans for the February referendum, McMorrow Field would trade its softball fields for soccer and football fields, as well as additional parking. (submitted graphic)

This image shows what Kaposia Landing might look like if voters approve additional parks and recreation spending in a referendum next February. (submitted graphic)

Thanks to passage of a levy referendum, South St. Paul will be going forward with plans to significantly improve city parks and Wakota Arena.

During a special election Tuesday, Feb. 11, voters approved a property-tax referendum that will allow a 20-year bond with a total cost of $10,015,888.

For an average South St. Paul home valued at $150,000, the bond will increase city taxes about $8 a month. The referendum passed with 921 yes votes and 684 no votes.

“We are excited and gratified by the show of support from the community of South St. Paul,” said Christopher Esser, director of Parks and Recreation. “The passage of the parks referendum is a legacy for our town that proves we value parks, facilities, recreation, and our quality of life.”

The money will be used to improve and develop three areas within the city.

The Kaposia Landing park development at 800 Bryant Ave., will feature four lighted softball fields, an additional baseball field, several picnic areas, a small dog park and a performance building near the Mississippi River.

The cost of this development is estimated at $5,468,125.

At McMorrow Field, $2,389,463 will be used in a redevelopment project. Improvements will include four soccer-sized fields (two of them lighted), a lighted football field, a general warm-up field and a community play area.

Existing field/park equipment will be removed prior to the upgrades. McMorrow Field is located just north of the city’s municipal airport.

Wakota Arena renovations

In addition, improvements will be made to the Wakota Civic Arena. The building will be upgraded with larger locker rooms and restrooms, an elevated warm-air viewing area and an off-ice training area at Rink 1, which is over 50 years old.

Other improvements include a conversion to a more efficient refrigeration system and a desiccant dehumidification for Rink 2, which was added to the original building in 1997.

In addition, a public meeting area three times the size of the arena’s former meeting room will be built and available to the general public.

Total improvements to the Wakota Arena will cost $2,158,300.

According to Esser, the city will tackle the Wakota Arena and the Kaposia Landing ball fields in 2014.

“We will continue to seek input from residents and our community partners regarding specific park elements as development occurs,” he said.

“These projects will benefit generations now and in the future, so we want to do them right.”

Heather Edwards can be reached at


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