Wassermann Lake Preserve
The city and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District have been updating the Wassermann Lake Preserve concept plan and park elements, based on the original plan approved by both entities. The site is approximately 33.5 acres, including 16 acres of wetland, six acres of open water, eight acres of upland park and 700 feet of stream channel. The concept plan discussed at the Victoria City Council meeting on October 14 is a deeper dive into the park elements: boardwalks, shelter, restroom facilities, parking lot, nature play areas, trails and park design.
The park is being designed as a natural resource-based park rather than a traditional city park and includes restoration of uplands, streams and wetlands. Restoration includes removal of non-native trees such as box elder, elms and ash, pruning oaks and allowing the forest floor to re-establish itself into prairie and oak savanna.
The park design includes a central prairie mound and various areas for picnicking, sitting, a loose parts play area, a gross motor skills play area with rocks and timbers, a shelter overlooking the lake with year-round restroom facilities, paved and natural paths, fire pit and a boardwalk extending to an island gathering space and fishing pier. The park does not include water access for canoes or kayaks due to the site conditions--steep slopes, shallow water and wetland plants extending into the lake.
A public open house to gather residents’ comments was held on October 7. The primary concerns expressed were about parking lot screening to maintain privacy, while preserving views and overall park safety. When asked what they like about the proposed plan, responses included: “Looks so natural—love that it’s not a big, colorful playground.” “Fits into the surrounding landscape.” “The minimalist environmental focus is great.”
The capital construction cost of this project, including contingency, is now estimated at approximately $2.5 million. Much of the discussion at the October 14, 2019 council meeting focused on paying for park construction. Council members expressed a desire to explore options including applying for grant funding, using franchise fees to support bond debt service and phasing construction. The concept plan will be 60% completed in November 2019 at which time the city council will review the project again and discuss funding park construction as part of the 2020 budget.
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