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RiverFIRST proposal moves toward construction project along Upper Mississippi riverfront

At its Sept. 21 meeting, the Minneapolis park board initiated a 45-day public comment period on the RiverFIRST proposal to revitalize some key parts of the Upper Mississippi riverfront.

It's the next step toward making the plan a reality.

The proposal lays out various design concepts and an implementation plan for “problem-solving” parks, walking trails and other amenities for the river area, mainly between North and Northeast Minneapolis, according to information from the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MRDI), which is leading the charge.

RiverFIRST is the product of a collaboration between MRDI project manager Mary deLaittre, the Tom Leader Studio in Berkeley, Calif., Kennedy & Violich Architecture (TLS/KVA) in Boston and New York financing consultants HR&A.

For months, the proposal has undergone an extensive editing and community engagement process, fleshing out an earlier version that won MRDI’s international design competition, according to project information.

In the proposal, five priority projects, all of which are doable over the next handful of years “exemplify ‘re-sourcing’ the river, while eliminating as many barriers as possible,” to help lay the foundation for future riverfront development, deLaittre says in a prepared statement.

For starters, a riverfront trail system that would go through Farview Park in North Minneapolis would join other existing city and regional parks and trails to form a “user-friendly network of commuter and recreational connections, most notably across the Interstate 94 trench cutting off Northsiders from the river,” a prepared statement reads.   

A number of floating BioHaven Islands on the river could help improve water quality while also providing habitat for plants and animals.   

The plan also calls for a new Scherer Park that would take advantage of park-owned property along the river in Northeast.

Separately, the Northside Wetlands Park “transforms significant acreage from the existing Port of Minneapolis.”  

Finally, an historic park that leads into the downtown area could be restored, according to MRDI information.

Going beyond the five-year projects, “The Draft RiverFIRST Proposal has the potential to create the largest expanse of new public and green space since the Minneapolis Parks system was first created over 100 years ago,” a prepared statement about the project reads.

Source: Information from the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative
Writer: Anna Pratt
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