For five years, the police department in Minnesota’s sixth-largest city has hosted a fishing tournament for at-risk youth. But although Brooklyn Park has 47 miles of trails and 67 award-winning parks, the community of 78,000 had no place to fish. So the event had to be held in other cities or at the Mississippi River.
Looking for a fishing hole kids could bike to, event organizer Mark Bruley approached public works. The department’s solution: Retrofit a 1.2-acre stormwater retention pond near the Community Activity Center to do double duty as a recreational site.
“It still works as a stormwater pond,” says street maintenance superintendent Steve Nauer, “but we removed 2,500 cubic yards of sediment, increased the depth from 3.5 feet to 13.5 feet, and lined the entire base with 2 to 3 feet of clay.”
The department completed the project at virtually no cost to the city. Nauer got the City of Plymouth to donate the clay and haul it to the site. Titan Machinery loaned his crews excavation equipment. And Nauer received three grants totaling $115,000 from the Hennepin County Youth Sports Program, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Home Depot.
The state department of natural resources stocked the pond with bluegills and yellow perch for free and will monitor fish health and populations for free. Home Depot employees built a fishing pier, and Cabela’s donated fishing equipment.
On June 26, about 150 children, 7 to 12 years old, met their police partner at the next fishing pond for the “Cops-n-Kids” event.
“This was truly one of those projects that was meant to be,” says Nauer.