MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A popular park in the heart of St. Paul is in disarray right now, but there’s a good reason for that. Rice Park is getting a major facelift this summer.

From carnivals to quiet relaxation, Rice Park is a place for urban respite.

“This is a happening place, for businesses, for families, it’s a very important part of St. Paul,” said Nathan Alexander, who works in IT at the Ordway right across from the park.

Alexander, an outdoor enthusiast, lives and works in downtown St. Paul, and has a view of the park from his office.

“I cross through Rice Park every day,” he said.

He spends free time with the family here too. WCCO’s Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield told him the park would soon be closed for the summer.

“You kind of just made my day a little sadder, wow,” he responded.

Landscape architect Anne Gardner’s been planning the renovation for four years. She says the local Garden Club came up with the idea.

“Revitalization is just the best word for it, revitalization of the well-loved space that has an incredible history to it,” she said. “For next summer it’s going to be a beautiful active place for people to come and visit and gather.”

The new park will be more of an open design with a gathering place in the middle for yoga, concerts or weddings. There will be new paving, new trees and more color from expanded year-round gardens. New details will preserve the classic feel of the park.

If you’re wondering what will happen to Snoopy’s friends, the Peanuts statues, they’re not going far, just to the other side of the park.

The park won’t reopen until late fall.

“I might trek down to Mears Park,” Alexander said. “I don’t really like rolling in the mud. It will be worth it in the end for sure.”

The renovation will cost $2.1 million, funded by the city and private sources.

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