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Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative moves forward with community engagement phase

At an August 4 community meeting at Farview Park Recreation Center in Minneapolis, people got a chance to learn more about the RiverFirst proposal for redeveloping a 5.5-mile stretch of the Mississippi River. It starts at the Stone Arch Bridge and goes north. 

The meeting focused on benefits for the city's North and Northeast areas, which are largely cut off from the river, along with the idea of "problem-solving" parks that would be destinations, according to a prepared statement about the event.

It's part of a broadly based community engagement effort to gather feedback about the RiverFirst proposal--under the umbrella of the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative--for re-imagining this portion of the riverfront. The TLS/KVA team of landscape architects and designers won a design competition earlier this year to bring its proposal to fruition.

RiverFirst is a multifaceted plan for revitalizing the riverfront. It includes everything from riverfront trails to a "biohaven" that would use recycled materials to form a riparian habitat for endangered species and migratory birds, according to project information.
Right now the design team is working to refine its proposal, studying its feasibility and gathering public input, according to project manager Mary deLaittre. On Sept. 21, the team will present its recommendations and implementation plans to the city's park board.

HR&A Advisors from New York is working closely with the design team to come up with a strategic plan "that will shape the priority projects and financing approaches," she says.  

Six youth ambassadors are also working to help spread the word about the project and collect feedback at various community events.

One idea that has been well received, deLaittre says, is for a green land bridge over I-94 to link Farview Park to the river. It's a creative solution for reconnecting this part of the city with the river and other parks and trails.

DeLaittre underscores the need for community input, for which people can fill out an online survey. All along the way, comments and images from people are being featured on the website under the heading, "River Is."

"This is a big civic project and it's imperative that people weigh in," she says.

That being said, "The level of support has been tremendous," she says, adding, "People are very interested in making sure it happens."

The project has also attracted the attention of a delegation from Seattle who are  running a civic design competition. In coming to the Twin Cities, the delegation "wanted to emulate the innovative community engagement and coalition-building," she says. 

Source: Mary deLaittre, project manager for Mississippi Riverfront Development Initiative and founder and principal of Groundwork City Building
Writer: Anna Pratt
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