ST. CLOUD - The plan to reopen a once very popular park in southeast St. Cloud is a step closer to reality. The St. Cloud city council voted this (Monday) evening to approve a land swap with St. Cloud State University.

The city will get 51 acres of George Friedrich park, while SCSU will get just under five acres of land adjacent to the parking lot south of the National Hockey Center. The value of the park land is appraised at $328,000, while the value of the city land is appraised at $294,000.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System still has to approve the deal. That could happen later this week.

Once the swap is finalized, Mayor Dave Kleis wants volunteer groups to help clean-up along the trails in July, and open the park for walking in August. It would still be illegal to swim in the quarries. Kleis wants the city to ask the State Legislature for $6 million in bonding money next year, which would be used to clean-up the water quality issues, remove some graffiti on the granite, and improve accessibility to the park.

Kleis says eventually he'd like the city to buy more undeveloped land adjacent to the park, and create a 114 acre park.

Kleis calls the park "historic" because it's the first granite quarry in the entire state. Several companies quarried there until the stock market crash of 1929. SCSU then bought the land, and planted 400,000 tree seedlings. It was a popular recreation area for several decades, until SCSU closed it in 1976.

Image courtesy of the city of St. Cloud
Image courtesy of the city of St. Cloud