Prospect Park works on new garden

A new garden, which will decorate a parking ramp overseeing the Prospect Park light rail station, is part of larger environmentally friendly initiatives for the area.

Maraya King

The University of Minnesota’s Prospect Park neighborhood is moving through its goal to modernize its drearier side with community gardening.

A new hanging garden — part of a larger neighborhood effort to be greener — will enhance an area parking ramp’s appearance while making it more environmentally friendly. The project also looks to bring students, long-term residents and renters together for planting.

President and CEO of the Prospect Park Association, Vince Netz said planning first began in January when designs and logistics of free hanging plants were drafted for review.

With $9,405 approved by the University’s Good Neighbor Fund in April, the project is set to begin in July, Netz said.

The parking ramp sits between University Avenue Southeast and 4th Street, across from the Metro Green Line light rail station in Prospect Park.

“It’s a brutal presence that could use some help… right now we are concerned with the fastening and structural components of these gardens,” said Dick Gilyard, president of the Prospect Park 2020 board and architect on the project.

Netz said the initial funding will build around 40 planters on the South, East and North sides of the ramp.

Like many other PPA initiatives this year, this project will involve University and other local students.

Del Hampton, coordinator of Prospect Park Community Gardens, said he and his team are always looking for ways to work with the University.

“It is very important to me to recruit University students, faculty and staff in our community gardens,” Hampton said.

The Prospect Park Garden Club also paired with Venture Academy on University Avenue, whose students will help to maintain the plants once they have begun to sprout, Hampton said.

Jessica Buchberger, Prospect Park program manager, said the garden is just one aspect of the Greener 4th Street Initiative taking place between Malcolm Avenue and the TCF Bank Stadium.

One added benefit of hanging gardens is their potential to filter storm runoff water, Netz said, in accordance with the Greener 4th Street Initiative.

Buchberger said the PPA is making changes when possible that will be the most efficient and environmentally friendly for the neighborhood.

Construction will begin in July and continue until June of 2018 when the garden is expected to flourish.