News Release from MRDI:
Park Board keeps door wide open to public on future Upper Riverfront parks
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board launches 45-day public comment period on draft RiverFIRST proposal, through November 6, 2011
Minneapolis, Minn., September 21, 2011 – Tonight, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioners approved a resolution to extend its extensive community engagement process for the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative to include a formal 45-day public comment period. Park Board Planning Services staff proposed the resolution following the presentation and acceptance of the MR|DI team’s draft RiverFIRST: A Park Design Proposal and Implementation Framework for the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront report earlier in the evening.
“The expertise and creativity demonstrated by our project team in the RiverFIRST proposals and implementation recommendations has been exceptional,” says Assistant Superintendent for Planning Services, Bruce Chamberlain. “We have received tremendous public and private support for the initiative and believe it’s appropriate to continue these efforts through a 45-day public comment period on the draft proposal before the Board considers a set of next-step action later this year.”
Likely next-step recommendations Park Board staff anticipate putting forward in November or December are the adoption of the RiverFIRST proposal, schematic design for a phase-1 construction project and a joint effort with the City of Minneapolis to meld the RiverFIRST plan with revisions to the Above the Falls zoning policies currently under review.
The public can download the Draft RiverFIRST Proposal fromhttp://MinneapolisRiverfrontDevelopmentInitiative.com, where they can also submit comments. The public can also read a reference copy of the proposal, take home the executive summary and submit their comments at any of the Park Board’s recreation centers, as well as at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road.
In addition to wide distribution of this news release to local media outlets, neighborhood and community associations and via the MR|DI’s online blog and e-newsletter, the Park Board is advertising the MR|DI public comment period in four Minneapolis newspapers: Finance & Commerce (legal notices), North News, Camden News, and the Northeaster (flyer inserts).
Five priority projects recommended for completion within five years
The 48-page, tabloid-size Draft RiverFIRST Proposal is co-authored by MR|DI Project Manager Mary deLaittre, bi-coastal design team Tom Leader Studio and Kennedy & Violich Architecture (TLS/KVA), and financing consultants HR&A (New York). The authors recommend completing five priority projects within five years:
- Riverfront Trail System with Farview Park phase one greenways – which integrate with existing city and regional parks and trails to create a cohesive, user-friendly network of commuter and recreational connections, most notably across the Interstate 94 trench cutting off Northsiders from the river.
- BioHaven® Islands – offering water quality rehabilitation while providing scenic views and habitat for native plants and animals, including migrating birds.
- Scherer Park – an existing Minneapolis Parks property along the Northeast side of the riverfront, and located in a burgeoning neighborhood and adjacent to compatible properties, including existing parks and bridges.
- Northside Wetlands Park – which transforms significant acreage from the existing Port of Minneapolis from asphalt to amenity, without adding industry, and becomes a destination point for Farview Park and other envisioned Northside greenways;
- Downtown Gateway Park – the restoration of a historic park at the front door of downtown.
“The Mississippi River very nearly bisects the nation and entirely splits Minneapolis,” notes deLaittre. “But it’s not the only feature that separates people from the city’s abundant natural features and amenities, or one neighborhood from another. The Draft RiverFIRST Proposal recommends five priority projects that each exemplify ‘re-sourcing’ the river, while eliminating as many barriers as possible, in as short a time period as practical.”
These five projects were selected because together they lay the foundation for successful implementation of a 20-year vision for complete riverfront transformation. Specifically, each potentially:
• Is useful for a wide variety of people from all over the city and region;
• Is a rallying points for advocates – people and organizations;
• Establishes Minneapolis as a model 21st century riverfront city;
• Can be developed with cooperation among public and private sector organizations.
About the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative
In April 2011, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board established the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative as a special project to carry through the promise of connecting people from near and far with new multifunctional Upper Riverfront parks along “America’s fourth coast.” The MR|DI was charged with transforming the winning parks design of the renowned Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition, called RiverFIRST, from a visionary concept to a workable plan for short- and long-term development. Beginning in April, TLS/KVA went through a three-month in-depth editing process led by the MR|DI project team and involving the public and Steering, Advisory and Technical committees. From June through August, the MR|DI implemented a multidimensional community engagement process that included a community input survey taken by more than 600 people, participation in more than 30 community events, three public meetings, more than 40 solo presentations and meetings by the MR|DI project manager, and the debut of “River Is,” a gathering of people’s thoughts about the Mississippi today and for the future. This fall, Park Board Commissioners will decide the scope and timing of the first RiverFIRST projects, to be enjoyed by the community within five years. Learn more and participate at MinneapolisRiverfrontDevelopmentInitiative.com.