Frogtown Community Center unveils new artificial turf field, playground and outdoor activities – Twin Cities

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Kids, take note: the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul has a new soccer field, among other outdoor attractions.

St. Paul’s Mayor Melvin Carter joined council member Dai Thao and other officials on Tuesday in unveiling artificial turf fields, a playground and other outdoor amenities at the Frogtown Community Center recently. built.

The $ 11 million community center opened last September on the former Scheffer Recreation Center site, 230 Como Ave. More recently, artificial turf fields – Gen. Vang Pao Fields – striped for soccer, football, baseball and lacrosse have been added alongside a new basketball court, volleyball court, Kato / Sepak Takraw courts and a playground.

Surrounded by windows on all four sides, the 23,500-square-foot two-story building is four times the size of the nearly windowless recreation center that once stood at the corner of Como Avenue and Marion Street. It contains a large indoor gymnasium equipped for basketball but easily convertible to other uses, surrounded by a walking / running track on the second floor.

Other facilities include a small weight room, classrooms and a dance studio.

At Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Thao said he was honored that the playing fields were named after the late General Vang Pao, considered by many to be the George Washington of the Hmong community for his role in both in the “secret war” of the Vietnam era. in Laos and launch of Hmong community organizations in the United States

“It’s an important conversation to have,” Carter said unconvincingly as he introduced Thao to the audience on Tuesday. The mayor previously represented the same districts when he was a member of district 1 of the city council.

The prospect of naming the Youth Recreation Grounds after a Hmong war hero at a time when the region appears to be becoming more diverse struck some in the audience as an odd choice, especially since the general never lived in Saint-Paul, not even in Minnesota. On Tuesday, recent Karen refugees from Burma used their feet to kick a hard ball over the Kato / Sepak Takraw courts – or foot volleyball courts.

“I think it’s cool that he brought the Hmong to Minnesota, but it just hit us today,” said Sarah Gustafson, a Frogtown Lofts resident who grew up coming to old Scheffer Rec Center. . “They should ask the people of Frogtown.”

Longtime Frogtown resident Greg Taylor agreed.

“I was surprised,” Taylor said. “I do not understand. I just don’t understand. I am not in favor of it. He should be (named after) someone who has done something in this community. “

Not all of Tuesday’s feelings were optimistic. In light of the pandemic-era budget cuts to St. Paul’s Parks and Recreation and other city departments, some fear that awareness among neighborhood youth is limited.

“We could have a nice building with very little programming, and that has to change,” said Caty Royce, executive director of the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, in an interview. The association has carried out its own action with young people across Rue Marion, in the apartments of Como Place.

“Young Karen and Karenni, they are going through what the Hmong community went through when they arrived here, and they are not going to access this facility without culturally specific awareness,” Royce said. “When we knocked on the door, there were families who were in a refugee camp two weeks ago. They are very newcomers and very at risk families. “





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