Good Neighbors in St. Anthony East Neighborhood Lead the Way

Leaders of the St. Anthony East Neighborhood Association (SAENA) contacted the MWMO more than two years ago to gauge our interest in funding potential stormwater management in Community Commons Park, a park actually owned by the neighborhood. At that time, they were learning all they could about conditions and drainage issues in the park through a partnership with a University of Minnesota class. The MWMO recommended they apply for a Mini Grant to assist them in developing stormwater features that came out of this planning, and also to provide neighborhood education about protecting water quality in the Mississippi River.

Fast forward to 2018, when SAENA was able to follow through on the plans that were developed, including the addition of a rain garden. They submitted a Mini Grant application to fund plants for the rain garden. As part of their educational plan, they provided an opportunity for volunteers to install plants in the new rain garden. Over the course of just one morning, the group installed dozens of native plants that now absorb and filter the stormwater running into the rain garden from the park land. The new plants also offer pollinators habitat and beautify the area for humans.

A man and a little girl dig holes for plants.
Neighbors helping plant the rain garden at Community Commons Park.

With this significant project under their belt, SAENA wanted to go above and beyond the education provided with the grant. They committed to helping residents recognize the need to stop water pollutants from entering storm drains in the street and providing tips for other actions they can take to protect the river.

Their commitment turned into action when they jumped on the opportunity to conduct the first Good Neighbor Community Cleanup! On July 13, SAENA staff and volunteers partnered with the MWMO and local Master Water Steward Michelle Spangler to carry out a cleanup of Community Commons Park and several streets and storm drains west of there.

Master Water Steward Michelle Spangler
Master Water Steward and SAENA Executive Director Christina Perfetti helping plant the rain garden at Community Commons Park.

In less than two hours, their crew cleaned up more than 150 pounds of trash, sand, broken glass and other debris from the streets. Their efforts prevented this material from flowing into storm drains and straight into the Mississippi River, where its negative impact would be felt both here and downstream. They also cleaned out vegetation that was plugging up the grill on top of the storm drain. In some cases, weeds were growing in the sand that had washed in and settled around some storm drains. Left untouched, this plant material and litter could have plugged the storm drain and potentially caused local flooding.

Want to Clean Up Your Community? MWMO Can Help!

If you would like to conduct a neighborhood cleanup — large or small — summer is a great time of year to do so. The stretch between spring Earth Day cleanups and fall cleanups allows a lot of pollution to build up on top and around storm drains. With each rainfall, this material washes through the storm drain system into the river and can even be creating local ponding. It only takes a small crew and short time to clear things up!

The MWMO can lend watershed residents a kit with cleanup supplies and provide print materials to help you plan and promote your event. Feel free to contact us to assist you with this process and offer guidance in your cleanup efforts.

A St. Anthony East neighbor clears yard waste out of a storm drain.
A St. Anthony East neighbor clears yard waste out of a storm drain.
A Master Water Steward weighs trash bags filled with waste collected during a community cleanup event.
Master Water Steward Michelle Spangler weighs trash bags filled with waste collected during the cleanup.
Volunteers at a community cleanup event in the St. Anthony East Neighborhood of Minneapolis.
SAENA staff and volunteers at the community cleanup event.

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