by: COURTESY OF GRETCHEN VADNAIS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS LLC - Immanuel Lutherans proposed park design includes open space and wetlands as well as spiritual elements such as a labyrinth and a meditation center. The Immanuel Lutheran Church has big plans for an 8.1-acre swath of land at the southeast corner of Evergreen Road and Linfield Avenue.

For now, that means creating a sacred space on the westernmost portion of the property, church officials say.

The church has owned the property since 2006, but dropped out of a plan to sell a 2.4-acre portion of the property to the city last December. The city would have developed the property into a soccer field, according to plans shared by the city.

Those plans fell through after the church decided late last year not to sell the property.

“We just decided at this point in time"not to transfer the land,” said Terri Gonzalez, chair of the building team for Immanuel Lutheran Church. “We weren't able to come together on a use.”

The city had offered to pay $150,000 for the land, which was below its $228,000 appraisal value, and developed a park use agreement that would give the church priority use for an undetermined time, according to Jim Row, community services director for the city.

The area is in need of a park and the partnership could have made it a reality, Row said.

“They indicated that they might reconsider the issue later on, but that the project wasn't a good fit for them at this time,” Row said. “We were getting real close to having a potential partnership with them, but they determined it wasn’t going to work for them.”

The church instead plans to develop a green space and wetlands park near Evergreen Road that would include a walking path, a labyrinth, a space for concerts and weddings, and a columbarium, which is a kind of vertical monument for human remains, according to Gonzalez.

“We see it as a mission to our community to provide a green space that the community can enjoy,” she said. “We could put biblical scriptures out there. This would be an inspirational space that a public entity could not do.”

The green space and wetlands’ park will cost $200,000 to build. Earlier this month, church leadership approved spending $100,000 that could be leveraged with matching private grant money to pay for the green space and wetlands’ park, Gonzalez said.

If completed, it will be located on the western portion of the property closer to Evergreen Road, and would be developed with native prairie grass, she said.

Additional plans include building a new $2.3 million church on the 8.1-acre property, she said. Revenues from concerts and weddings at the park could be used to pay for the building down the road, she said.

“We don't have the funds to build the church right now,” she said. “Money is still an issue. We just want to keep the ball moving forward.”

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