The Metropolitan Council has approved a land swap that will allow the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to go ahead with plans to expand Above the Falls Regional Park.
The park is situated on both sides of the Mississippi River between the Plymouth Avenue and Camden Avenue bridges. Fifteen acres are currently open to the public, with plans in the works to make another 90 acres available.
The park board recently published a revised draft master plan for the park, and is seeking public comment on the plan through April 1.
Council approval of a small 0.20-acre land swap and minor boundary adjustment was needed to finalize the park board’s plan to:
Continue to assemble the needed parcels of land to create a park amenity along the Mississippi River that will serve local neighborhoods and the region.
Finalize a purchase agreement with the Graco Company. (Under an arrangement between the park board and Graco, the park board will sell some of its property to Graco in exchange for an adjacent Graco property. And, the Graco Foundation will provide funds to develop the former Scherer Brothers Lumber Company into park land, which will be called “Graco Park.”)
Submit a Master Plan to the Council with more detailed plans for developing the Scherer property into park land and engaging the public.
“This arrangement significantly moves up the park’s opening date and will improve access to the Mississippi River and riverfront amenities,” said Emmett Mullin, the Council’s Regional Parks and Natural Resources Manager.
Mullin called it a “win-win-win” for the city, Graco company, and people locally and across the region who love and use regional parks.
“It’s a welcome step forward,” he said. “Parks contribute so much value to community livability and vitality and opportunities for fun, relaxation and exercise.”
Regional parks get more than 58 million visits each year
Above the Falls Regional Park is part of a network of more than 100 regional parks, park reserves, regional trails and special recreation features in the seven-county metro area. Together, they register some 58 million visits every year, according to the last count in 2017.
The Met Council partners with local park agencies to develop and maintain regional parks, like the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and Como Zoo and Conservatory — the most visited regional park assets in the metro area.
Under state law, the Council is charged with overseeing the acquisition and development of regional parks and trails. The parks are operated by partnering cities, counties and special districts.