Summer is usually Blue Lake Regional Park’s busiest season, but this fall is seeing a new level of activity as the construction and demolition phase of park renovations begins.
Beginning right after Labor Day, heavy machinery started arriving at and around the park to remove old buildings and begin installing a new water line that will connect the park to Fairview’s municipal water system.
“This is an exciting moment for those of us who are working on this project, because it’s the point where all the planning we’ve been doing behind the scenes starts to turn into work that’s visible to the public,” says Senior Capital Projects Manager Brent Shelby. “Once those bulldozers show up, people know this is really happening.”
Renovating a public space with the size and history of Blue Lake Regional Park is no small undertaking. It will take years to complete the work, which is funded by the parks and nature bond measure approved by voters in 2019. Metro is also committed to working with diverse communities around the region to envision how to make the park safe, welcoming, and fun for everyone. Outreach to the community about the project is set to begin after these preliminary, foundational tasks are underway.
One project is installing a new water line from NE Interlachen Lane to the park under the north side of NE Blue Lake Road that will provide municipal water service from the City of Fairview to the park. Previously, the park’s water came from a well on site, which was difficult to maintain and didn’t provide adequate flow. The new water line will keep Metro compliant with local codes and make the park’s water supply more reliable and sustainable.
Metro is also demolishing and removing several buildings at the park. These are all structures that are outdated and no longer meet the needs of the park. Buildings being removed include the beach showers, concession stand, Lake House, the boat house, and the park office and garage.
The park’s popular fishing pier has also become unsafe. Metro has approved a plan to demolish part of the pier and restore the rest for public use.
Most of the work Metro is doing now is preparing for future improvements to the park. Other parts of it, like creating a new maintenance building that will serve as a hub for Metro’s entire park system, may not be something the public has much direct experience with but will allow Metro to better care for all its parks.
“Once we get past these foundational pieces of the renovations, then the really exciting work begins,” said Senior Parks Planner Olena Turula. “We’ll be talking with community members, getting to know their priorities for the park. I can’t wait to see what we develop from those conversations. Blue Lake Regional Park has been a beloved institution in this region for almost a century, and we’re going to make sure it remains a vibrant community resource.”