Marthaler Park Improvement Project

Project Summary 

three-phased project to improve the active and natural areas of Marthaler Park and advance a vision for a multi-use, community-centered space for play, gatherings, and enjoyment of nature.  

  • Phase 1: Lower Marthaler improvements 

  • Phase 2: Expansion of River-to-River Greenway 

  • Phase 3: Upper Marthaler improvements  

Alignment to Goals and Vision 

The City’s Park System Plan calls for: 

  • Improve the safety of parks and recreational facilities 
  • Create a continuous greenway/open space trail system 
  • Plan for the redevelopment of Marthaler Park
  • Further develop Marthaler Lake as a fishing pond with dock and trails 
  • Create expanded picnic facilities and open lawn areas at Marthaler Park  

Project Details 

Phase 1: Lower Marthaler improvements 

Improvements: Project on the north side of the park, including a new parking lot, a play area, stormwater treatment pond, and resurfaced volleyball and basketball courts. Project incorporated into the larger Wentworth Ave reconstruction project.

Timeline: 2018-2019

City Cost: Approximately $95,000

Partners: Dakota County

Status: Complete 

Phase 2: Expansion of River-to-River Greenway 

Improvements: The City partners with Dakota County to reconstruct the trails through Marthaler and Garlough parks, bringing them up to regional trail standards. The project fills a critical gap in the trail system.

Timeline: 2021

Cost: Approximately $615,000

Partners: Dakota County-led project 

Status: Complete 

Phase 3: Upper Marthaler improvements  

Improvements: Parking lot moved to the southeast, bicycle parking and repair station, new fishing pier, playground, picnic pavilion with serving counter and grill, bathroom facility and seating, and stormwater filtration pond.

Timeline: 2023-2024

Cost: Approximately $2.1M

Partners: Dakota County and MN DNR

Spring 2021: Planning for Upper Marthaler Begins The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC), city staff, and consultants begin efforts to plan for the second phase of park renovations. The community provides feedback 

Spring 2023: Upper Marthaler Construction Begins

Summer/Fall 2023: Construction Continues, Albeit with Some Delays 
The fishing pier, utilities, playground equipment, and wild seed mix were installed. Construction is delayed, primarily due to issues with weather and permitting.  

Fall/Winter 2023: Significant Progress Made With a warmer and drier November and December, the contractor is able to catch up on some delays and make significant progress. Work includes progress to the picnic shelter and bathroom building, and playground installation. 

Spring 2024: Construction Slated to Complete As the weather allows, construction will begin again in the spring with the goal of completion by June. Until then, the park is an active construction site and portions of the park remain closed. Spring construction will include: 

        * Completion of the parking lot 

        * Light pole installation 

        * Trail and sidewalk installation 

        * Security camera installation 

        * Landscaping installation 

Summer 2024: Grand Opening Celebration Planned 

The City and partners will hold a grand opening celebration. Details will be announced following completion of construction.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. How was the park design determined? 

City staff, the Parks and Rec Advisory Committee, City Council and residents, worked with consultants to develop a vision and concept plan for the park.

The concept plan included sledding hill improvements, new elements at the top of the hill such as a small shelter and observation tower, as well as a picnic shelter that could double as a warming house. These elements were removed from the final plan due to budget constraints but may be added as future park improvements.

  • Paragraph locked by Eric Weiss

2. Is the park open to the public? 

The park is open to the public on a limited basis. Upper Marthaler is still an active construction zone and, as such, we urge caution while using the park. The parking lot, playground, and fishing pier will remain closed to the public until the project is completed in the spring of 2024. We are working to reduce the impact of construction. However, as an active construction site, this may mean that construction workers and/or materials will impede the use and visual appeal of the park. We’re striving to keep the park open, but if we find people entering the construction zone, we may need to close larger portions of the park to ensure everyone’s safety. 

3. Why is there a stormwater basin at the base of the hill? 

With the relocation of the parking lot, state stormwater management regulations required a stormwater basin be installed to better manage water.  The stormwater basin will help improve the water quality of Marthaler Lake and will help aid in efforts to remove litter and nutrients that contribute to algae growth, such as road salt and fertilizers. Its placement, at the base of both the hill and parking lot, was chosen to best accommodate the site's topography and natural water flow.

4. Will the stormwater basin next to the parking lot be filled with water? 

The new stormwater basin is intended only to capture and briefly retain stormwater following a large rain event. Following a storm, the water will slowly drain into Marthaler Lake. The new stormwater pond is not intended to hold water, although it may hold water for a brief period during and after rain events.The basin will be planted with a natural mix typically found in rain gardens and approved by MNDOTWhen there’s smaller snow depth, this taller mix of plants should provide a visual cue and deceleration. When snow depth increases, city staff may plow snow from the parking lot into the stormwater basin, which could alleviate some of the drop-off.

5. Is the park open for sledding? 

Given the slope of the hill, we do not actively promote Marthaler for winter sledding. For the 2023-2024 winter, while the space is an active construction zone, wstrongly discourage its use and recommend sledding at nearby parks, including: 

  • * Kennedy Park – steep hill 

  • * Southview Park – gentle hill 

  • * Cherokee Park (St. Paul) 

  • * Jefferson Park (South St. Paul) 

  • * Two Rivers HS – long steep hill 

Those who choose to sled are advised to do so at their own risk and assume full responsibility for determining if conditions are safe for sledding. The hill is an unsupervised space. Children should be accompanied by an adult at all times. Makeshift ramps, jumps, and skis are expressly prohibited.

6. Will the pond be stocked with fish?

The City plans to work with the DNR to try to get the annual restocking of the lake to happen again as in the past.

7. What can be done to improve the park’s design? 

At this point, we’re asking for patience until the project is complete. In the spring, following the installation of the trails, more work will be done to soften the base of the hill. Landscaping will be added that should add buffers and natural deceleration. 

We welcome ideas from the community with regard to short- and long-term improvements. Some initial ideas include: 

  • Re-grading by adding a gentle incline at the base of the hill
  • Adding additional landscaping and natural buffers, particularly around the picnic shelter, parking lot, utility boxes, and light poles
  • Installing temporary safety buffers such as hale bales or pads
  • Adding additional landscaping and natural buffers, particularly around the picnic shelter and parking lot, utility boxes and light poles
  • Snow maintenance protocols that will help navigate and decelerate those who choose to sled

Following the official re-opening of the park, we’ll observe its use and gather community input to understand any potential issues. Significant adjustments and investments to the site would require budgeting and City Council approval. 

8. Are any additional improvements planned for Marthaler Park? 

At this time no additional improvements are planned. As we observe park use and hear from neighbors, we may be able to incorporate additional park improvements, particularly improvements to the hill, vegetation management, incorporation of art, and additional seating.  


Eric Weiss, Director of Parks and Recreation, 

Dave Schletty, Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation,  

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