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Minneapolis Riverfront News

Covering life, work, and play in the Historic Mill District and Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront neighborhoods. Have an opinion, local news or events to share?  Contact us.

Monday
Sep292014

North Loop Heritage Streets Monday, October 6

You are invited to attend an informational meeting regarding the proposed reconstruction of 6th Avenue North from 5th St North to just north of Washington Avenue beginning in 2016. This project falls within a historically designated area and is subject to recommendations included in the City’s Warehouse District Heritage Streets Plan. The purpose of the meeting is to introduce the project to the neighborhood, and to solicit input from residents and property owners regarding the project to supplement the design guidance contained in the Heritage Streets Plan. This is the first project meeting for the 6th Avenue Reconstruction Project. The City plans to conduct follow-up meetings with property owners, neighborhood groups as well as additional general informational meetings over the fall and winter, to assist with the design process and incorporate input from the community prior to seeking City Council action in early 2015. For further information or if you have questions, contact Lee Mann at lee.mann@stantec.com or (651) 604-4850.

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 6th at 5:00 – 6:00 PM. A brief presentation will be given at 5:00 PM. The meeting will be held at the Fulton Brewery taproom.

Fulton Brewery
414 6th Avenue North
Minneapolis MN 55401

Monday
Sep292014

Opinion / The Yard: A Vision for a Park We Can All be Proud Of

By Max Musicant

The Yard is at a crossroads, with the two-block long “park” being perilously close to tipping towards becoming a barren private plaza — more akin to a rentable event venue than a truly public space. Rather than pointing fingers we need to collectively move forward. By working together creatively we can still realize a truly special public space in the heart of our city. 

A vision for what is possible 

In five years the Yard should be a year round destination, pulsating with energy from morning to night with area residents, office workers, and visitors from around the region and world. They will come for the occasional spectacular, like major concerts and sporting events, but more so for the special every day experiences. They will come for a snack from food vendors, or perhaps to celebrate a special occasion at the onsite sit down restaurant. They will form new rituals: chess with fellow citizens, a book from the outdoor lending library, a game of ping pong, a ride on a swing set, a splash in the fountain, a gift from a weekly market. They will stay and linger among movable tables and chairs, soaking in the sun, trees, flowers, dancers, jugglers, singers, and the wonderful energy of a space truly shared and used by all.

A way forward

How will we create a “Yard” such as this? Three things must occur. First, the Yard must be designed, managed, and programmed with the year round everyday use of the public in mind. Regardless of how often the MSFA and Vikings monopolize the park, the Yard must be designed for active, every day use. The best parks in our own system and across the world don’t rely on just one element to serve the public, but a dense array of physical amenities, activities, and events to provide a dynamic and delightful experience to all (think of Lake Harriet and Minnehaha Falls). There is also safety in crowds and danger in empty spaces. Using the rule of needing one person per 300 square feet of space in order to make a place safe, the Yard needs to draw over 5,000 people a day. That is a lot of people. By creating many things to do, see, and experience, we can ensure the Yard is not only fun, but also safe.

Second, whatever entity manages the Yard must be equipped with adequate sources of funds for operations. Public spaces succeed or fail based on their stewardship. Bryant Park in New York and our entire Minneapolis Parks system are great examples of the benefits of public spaces (or entire networks) that thrive when they have reliable, adequate, and dedicated revenue sources. Peavey Plaza in Downtown Minneapolis is an example of the opposite; a compelling design that suffered from a lack of maintenance.

Third, if a conservancy is the entity that cares for the Yard, in addition to being adequately funded, it needs to be fully accountable and have the explicit mandate to serve the public. A public-private partnership is likely needed, but making the conservancy must be established with the explicit mandate to care for the Yard for the public’s explicit benefit.

Paying for it all

Capital costs are relatively easy to raise, the hard part is funding the (more important and far less sexy) maintenance. The Yard will require between $3-$5 million annually — where are these funds going to come from? Public and private entities need to come together to share the burden, but also the benefit of creating our new crown jewel. Sources of funding should include: MPRB’s and DID’s combined take from the Downtown East Developments (approximately $300,000 and $150,000), 10% of revenue from concessions ($200,000-$500,000), and event rental fees ($50,000-$200,000). All this adds up to between $650,000 and $1.1 million — a good amount, but not nearly enough. Additional strategies to fill the gap could include: renegotiating the agreement between the City, Ryan, and the MSCA, creating a new property tax assessment district solely dedicated to the care of the Yard, having the Yard capture and clean storm water from  the surrounding area and claim related funds, or even shrinking the size of the park in order to cut costs. Private donations should only be used for the design and construction of the Yard as they are never a reliable source of operating funds over the long term.

By designing a dynamic and attractive space with a well funded entity to manage and actively program The Yard, we can still salvage this project and create a park that we can all be proud of. But if we don’t act soon, Wells Fargo, the Vikings, the MSFA, the City of Minneapolis, and our region will come to regret a once in a generation missed opportunity.

Max Musicant is the Founder and Principal of the award winning, Minneapolis based placemaking and public space management firm The Musicant Group.

Monday
Sep292014

MPRB Breaks Ground for Elliot Park’s New Athletic Field

Pictured (left to right): NCU Vice-President of University Relations Michael White, MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, MPRB Vice-President Scott Vreeland, NCU Vice-President of Student Development Mike Nosser, MPRB Commissioner Anita Tabb, North Central University President Dr. Gordon Anderson, MPRB President Liz Wielinski and NCU Head Soccer Coach Jake Smith.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), Park Board Commissioner Anita Tabb and community partners broke ground on the Elliot Park Athletic Field on Wednesday, September 17.

Improvements will feature construction of a NCAA-regulation, multi-purpose synthetic turf soccer field at this 6.44-acre park located between the Hennepin County Medical Center and North Central University (NCU).

“I want to thank our generous partners for helping us to realize the dream of a new athletic field at Elliot Park,” said MPRB Commissioner Anita Tabb. “Since day one this process has really epitomized the kind of partnerships we can make happen to improve our parks and our city.”

The groundbreaking event also included remarks by MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, NCU President Dr. Gordon Anderson.

“We are here joining with the Park Board and our friends at North Central University to create a new facility for the 21st century that meets the desires and needs of people in our community,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. “We don’t create a great community without investing. This project is just one stream of investment – and we need to continue this process and history of thinking about future generations and investing in their prosperity here in Minneapolis and Hennepin County.”

Once completed, the full-sized NCAA multi-purpose synthetic turf soccer field which will be home to the NCU Rams Soccer Team as well as many youth and adult sports leagues run by the MPRB. The project will be finished by spring of 2015.

“One of the things that is really exciting today is this project is an example of what we try to do at the Park Board which is really work in partnership with our neighbors who live next to the parks and as well as other organizations who we work with to make projects happen,” said MRPB Superintendent Jayne Miller. “These new forthcoming athletic facilities and the hard work that has been poured into this so far is a perfect example of one those collaborative projects.”

The new field will replace a portion of the current grass field, which is in disrepair. The field is host to youth football, soccer, and baseball. A new synthetic turf field will bring safer play for visitors for a much longer playing season.

“I want to say thank you to everyone who has had a part in all the work that has gone into this project so far. The city, county, Park Board, all of the partners and donors are a great team with a lot of different people,” said NCU President Dr. Anderson. “We can confidently say today we are getting a win for the neighborhood, city and the park. And the new field will be the right size if we ever host the World Cup – we could do it here!”

The MPRB has been working together with NCU, a park neighbor, to raise funds to increase the size of the field to a full size adult synthetic turf soccer field. The field will host multiple sports for all age groups.

“I can remember coming to Elliot Park for community meetings when I was first elected as a Park Board Commissioner. You would see hundreds of people on this soccer field despite it essentially being a dust bowl, people were enjoying outdoor spaces,” said MPRB Commissioner Tabb. “We asked ourselves, ‘How do we make this a better place – a more attractive place for people to be?’ I am pleased that through all of our hard work we are here today to celebrate the groundbreaking of what will truly become a gem in this community.”

The play areas in the park were updated in 1998, including a new basketball court, new pathways and landscaping. The current skateboard park was added to the park in 2004 and will be relocated within the park as part of this project.

Stay up-to-date with the Elliot Park Athletic Field Improvements by visiting its project page and subscribing to receive timely email updates.

Monday
Sep292014

Changes in Service Hours for Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam and Lock and Dam 1, Public Invited to Comment

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, proposes to reduce the hours of service at Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in downtown Minneapolis and Lock and Dam 1, adjacent to Minnehaha Park, starting the 2015 navigation season.

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, or WRRDA, directed the Secretary of the Army to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam within one year after the bill was signed into law. With closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock, it is anticipated the remaining two Minneapolis locks will have less than 500 commercial lockages per year.

To comply with the Corps Inland Marine Transportation System guidance, this decrease in lockages would require reduced hours of service at the remaining two locks to one 10 hour shift per day. The locks would still operate seven days a week. Currently, the locks are open 19 hours per day.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters is evaluating the new law requiring the closing of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam and will provide guidance on how to proceed.

Comments will be received through Oct. 22, 2014, and may be submitted to Mr. Kevin Baumgard, Deputy Chief, Operations Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 180 Fifth St. E., Ste. 700, St. Paul, MN 55101–1678, or by email at kevin.l.baumgard@usace.army.mil. 

Monday
Sep292014

October 21 - Downtown Neighborhood Elections & Annual Meeting

Mark your calendars, you won't want to miss the after-party!  See you at The Depot!  Download the Flyer...

Sunday
Sep282014

The Week Ahead in Mill City

Ceresota Building

Each week we provide an easy to reference list of events and activities for the week ahead in the Historic Mill District and Minneapolis Riverfront Neighborhoods.  Have an event to share?  Submit your events here...

Monday, September 29

No events scheduled

Tuesday, September 30

Wednesday, October 1

Thursday, October 2

Friday, October 3

Saturday, October 4

Sunday, October 5