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Jason Huneke and Ryan Loftsgaarden were walking around St. Paul's West Seventh neighborhood when they spotted their neighbor Joe Landsberger.

Landsberger asked if they had been to North High Bridge Park recently and seen what had happened. The park had undergone a transformation, thanks to the hard work of someone weeding the lawns, washing the benches and repainting the landmark big green chair.

The married couple said they had because, in fact, it had been them who had done the weeding, washing and painting.

"It was like they did 25 years of work in one weekend," said Landsberger, who has lived in the West Seventh neighborhood for nearly 40 years.

Located at the north end of Smith Avenue's High Bridge, North High Bridge Park is small but serves as a gateway to the community, Landsberger said.

The park features gardens, benches and public art. One of the art displays is a piece called the "Stone Watcher," which is made of leftover stone from construction in the park.

The most famous installation is the 2,500-pound chair. Created to raise awareness for the Green Chair Project — a nonprofit that provides donated furnishings to people in need — the original big green chair was moved to the park from the Walker Art Center in 1995. The newest chair was installed in 2002.

As steward of the park for 30 years, Landsberger did upkeep and maintenance. The St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department would mow the grass.

But after Landsberger gave up the job in 2018, nobody picked up where he left off. The city told Landsberger it doesn't have the funds to maintain the park. Weeds grew, graffiti wasn't painted over and benches and stones weren't cleaned.

It was so discouraging watching the park deteriorate that Landsberger said he was thinking about going to the city and suggesting they bulldoze it.

But Huneke and Loftsgaarden never gave him the chance.

Over the course of three days in July, Huneke and Loftsgaarden — with the help of fellow neighbor Alex Groten — helped transform the park back to peak condition, tackling anything that needed a cleaning, tuneup or trim.

"We just love to help to do our little part to keep it looking nice," Loftsgaarden said.

Huneke and Loftsgaarden powerwashed granite benches and pylons. They repainted a baptismal gate that was saved nearly two decades prior from St. Paul's St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church. They weeded and mulched the gardens and edged the lawn. They painted over the graffiti.

And, with the help of Groten, they repainted the big green chair.

Loftsgaarden said it wasn't a particularly challenging job — it was more about putting in the time to do the job correctly.

They did such good work that Landsberger has called it a "resurrection" of the park.

"The best part is having the people that are there all the time notice a difference. We didn't know if anybody would notice," Huneke said.

One woman asked Huneke and Loftsgaarden if one of the gates was a new installation, having never seen it due to overgrown weeds. Another man complimented the edging and thanked them for cutting the trees so he wouldn't have to duck anymore while walking through the park.

From their window across the street, they saw a woman taking senior photos and someone get engaged in front of the big green chair — two things that likely wouldn't have happened just weeks before.

"We really value having spaces where a community can gather, and also where people who are coming from outside of our community can enjoy this beautiful area and this neighborhood that we love so much," Groten said.

Groten, Huneke and Loftsgaarden each cited their affection for their West Seventh community as a reason to help upgrade the park. The three of them say the community has a lot going for it, and they wanted to help in any way they could.

There are no plans for any of them to become official stewards of the park, but that doesn't mean their work is done. Groten has the green paint stored and ready for when the chair needs a fresh coat, and Huneke and Loftsgaarden plan to help maintain the park going forward.

"We're not going to let it go now," Huneke said. "We're pretty much committed at this point."

Freelancer Peter Warren recently wrote for Inspired about the "Local Heroes" display at the Hennepin History Museum.