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Portions Of Lilydale Park To Reopen After 2013 Tragedy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- "High Risk" are the words used to describe an area of a St. Paul park where two kids died in a landslide.

Ten-year-old Mohamed Fofana and 9-year-old Haysem Sani were on a field trip at Lilydale Park in May of 2013 when the ground under them gave way.

Both of the boys were killed. Since that tragic accident, Lilydale Park has been closed to visitors.

A report was released Wednesday that details what needs to be done to make the park safe.

Lilydale Park runs along the Mississippi River, which is part of its appeal -- and part of the problem.

Shortly after the accident, the city said erosion of the land led to the 2013 landslide.

And now an engineering firm brought in to do a geological analysis recommends continuing to restrict access to high-risk areas.

"We're going to put up more permanent barriers than exist now to limit access. The second is we're going to post signage to advise park visitors of the potential hazards in those areas," St. Paul Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm said. "The risk associated with the use is too great to allow the public there."

He says a large part of the park that was closed may reopen as soon as this summer. The stability of the soil was found to be safe.

"The actions that we're going to be taking beginning today will allow us to reopen a portion of the park, the trail that leads down from Cherokee [Park] into Lilydale [Park], and one of the fossil-digging areas," Hahm said.

Jon Kerr is with the volunteer group Friends of Lilydale Park. He says there were warning signs of problems at the park long before the fatal accident, and he's not happy with the information the city has made public.

"When people die, when children die at a park, we really need to know the real reasons why, all of them," Kerr said. "And they need to do a full-to-the bottom public disclosure of what happened."

The families of the two children who died at Lilydale Park and one of the injured kids reached a $1 million settlement with the city.

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