Lake Phalen waterfall to get a redo

A photograph of the waterfall at Phalen Lake taken in 1960. (submitted photo)

A map of the waterfall plan shows how water will feed from Lake Phalen to the waterfall, and then back out to the lake, under ornamental grates. (submitted graphic)

Lake Phalen will get a little perking up for next spring, when water will again pour down the old manmade falls.

The waterfall, which sits on the west side of Lake Phalen, was built in the 1950s when the lake levels seemed to be receding -- the manmade waterfall drew from a nearby well and was a makeshift way of replenishing the water supply, said Brian Murphy, landscape architect with St. Paul Parks and Recreation, who is in charge of the project.

The old waterfall ran for a few years before being abandoned.

But now, half a century later, it will see a second life.

Murphy said there’s long been “a desire for the community to restore it.”

But it took until recent years to get it into gear. The rehab was added to the city’s master plan in 2009, and saw a Minnesota Legacy Grant in the range of $200,000 to bring it back to life.

The updated attraction will pump water out of Lake Phalen, which will cascade down the falls and flow right back into the lake.

The water will flow under the pedestrian paths already in place, and as people walk by, they’ll be able to see the water going underneath the path through ornamental grates.

“I think it will be a real attractive feature,” said Murphy.

In addition to the visual appeal, the falls also have a small bonus of adding aeration to the lake, he said.

Construction begins the week of Sept 29 and should be wrapped up by mid-November.

Construction done by contractors will include adding the ornamental grates and a pump system for a water, as well as touching up the stone masonry of the falls.

Once up and running next spring, the falls will run seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Murphy said. In addition, it will be on a timer, and should run from about 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., he said.

The bike and pedestrian paths that go by the waterfall area will remain open during construction.

— Patrick Larkin

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