- Associated Press - Sunday, March 20, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The city of St. Paul is seeking $4.5 million to help repair unstable slopes in a park where two children died in a landslide on a fossil-finding field trip nearly three years ago.

The City Council voted Wednesday to request disaster-relief funding for Lilydale Regional Park. Ten-year-old Mohamed Fofana and 9-year-old Haysem Sani were killed when a waterlogged cliff fell on them in May 2013. The boys were among fourth-graders from a St. Louis Park elementary school who were on the field trip.

The council is seeking grant money to improve stability on slopes and ravines along the Brickyard Trail area, KSTP-TV reported. A previous grant application to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources was denied.

The resolution says the Brickyard Trail area continues to heavily erode after rain.

The grant money would be used to restore the park’s Cherokee Heights Ravine and regrade the North Knob area, where erosion is feeding sediment down into Pickerel Lake and over to the Mississippi River, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

Two studies commissioned by the city concluded that the fatal landslide could not have been predicted. But erosion in the area had come to the attention of St. Paul Parks and Recreation officials in the past.

As a result of the deaths, the city of St. Paul has restricted access to part of the Brickyard Trail and has declared the brickyard itself and four popular fossil-hunting areas off-limits. Those areas have yet to reopen.

Officials hope to open the Brickyard Trail this summer if access issues improve in the spring, St. Paul Parks and Recreation spokesman Brad Meyer said.

People who have used the trail would welcome its reopening.

“We really haven’t been able to keep doing our regular group activities, hikes, birding … with so much of the park closed for several years now,” said Jon Kerr, an organizer with Friends of Lilydale Park.

If the grant is awarded, the city will present the plan to the public before any work starts.

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