Rochester celebrates completion of Cascade Lake Park renovations

(ABC 6 News) – A celebration decades in the making on Sunday morning at Rochester’s Cascade Lake as the renovation project has finally been finished.

The park began renovations in 2004 but the plans for what the park is today started back in the early 1990s.

The newest highlight of the park is the amphitheater that will bringing more live music to the community, but the event also honored a former mayor who did all he could to make this vision a reality.

It was all in honor of Charles Canfiled, who was the mayor of Rochester from 1995 to 2003. During his first term, he wanted to transform Cascade Lake into one of Rochester’s largest community parks.

“When most people saw this property as a used up gravel pit, his vision was a community park. He saw a few of the properties like this bought up and houses built up around them. He thought this property should be more than that,” said Marty Canfield, son of Charles Canfield.

Ardell Brede was a long-time friend of Canfield’s. Their families both attended Bethel Lutheran Church and Bible study groups, and their kids went to the same schools together for years.

Then in 2002, they campaigned against each other for Rochester’s mayor’s office.

While Brede won the election over Canfield, Brede says the campaign never soured their friendship, supporting one another until Canfield’s death in 2017.

Brede believes Canfield would be absolutely proud of what the park has become now.

“He would be choked up just like I am right now. It’s, it’s pretty special. I hadn’t driven in here for a while,” Brede said. “Today, just even coming in I thought, ‘wow, when did all of that get done?’ And then seeing that this will be a place that people can bring their lawn chairs here and have concerts. He will be so proud and his family is very proud.”

It took over two decades for Cascade Lake to turn into Canfield’s original vision, and while Canfield did not live to see the final product, friends, family, and former colleagues say he’d be proud of what Cascade Park has turned into.

“It’s taken the work of hundreds of people over three decades to get this project where it is today. Without Mayor Canfield’s leadership and the city council’s approval, there wouldn’t be a Cascade Lake as you see it today or any recreational facilities here to celebrate,” said Gary Neumann, Rochester Parks Board Director.

“He had this vision of what he would do and I supported that fully,” Brede said.

The amphitheater will be open for the people across the community to rent from April through October starting at a standard fee of $350 without tax. The shelter is currently available for rent until the end of the month. The City of Rochester will complete the final renovations to the park’s playground this week.