Mississippi Gateway redevelopment to celebrate the great outdoors

Date: Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Mississippi River is one of the state’s most iconic and celebrated natural wonders. Soon, there will be a redesigned and redeveloped regional park along its banks where visitors can connect with nature and bask in its majestic beauty.

Construction started recently on the Three Rivers Park District’s Mississippi Gateway Regional Park in Brooklyn Park. The park will transform two existing popular destinations — the former Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area — into one regional park that celebrates the mighty river and welcomes long-time outdoor enthusiasts and first-time visitors with many fun and exciting introductory experiences.

Overview rendering of the new visitor center and play areas among trees to the south of the river.

Funding provided by the Parks and Trails Legacy Fund

The Parks and Trails Legacy Fund is fueling Mississippi Gateway Regional Park redevelopment. It is part of the Clean Water Land and Legacy Act, which creates a 3/8 percent increase in state sales tax to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance, along with water, arts and cultural heritage, and wildlife habitat. Every strategic Parks and Trails Legacy Fund investment aims to connect more people to the outdoors, create new opportunities, encourage coordination among partners, and take care of existing parks and trails.

Overhead rendering of the of proposed park features, including the redeveloped visitor center, treetop trail, water play feature, and nature play areas.

Redesigned with more features

The Three Rivers Park District and the City of Brooklyn Park collaborated to develop a long-range plan for the Mississippi Gateway Regional Park redevelopment project. The initial round of construction contracts were awarded on March 30, which officially allowed construction work to begin.

New parking lots and several trails are already paved, with more planned soon. The master plan calls for upgrades to fishing, bird watching, picnicking, archery, and other popular areas of the existing parks. In addition, Mississippi Gateway Regional Park will feature a wide range of state-of-the-art features to give visitors a one-of-a-kind experience, including:

  • Mississippi Gateway Visitor Center. The revamped two-story visitor center will welcome guests with a host of fun, helpful, and interactive features, including hands-on educational exhibits, live animal displays, classrooms, community artwork, guest services, and more. It will include large windows and observation decks, so visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the park.
  • Treetop Trail elevated walkway. Guests can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the forest and wetlands as they walk along the elevated boardwalk connecting the visitor center with other park amenities.
  • Nature play area. Designed with assistance from local elementary school students, the nature play area will offer a mix of playground equipment and unique nature play elements.
  • Water play feature. A dry riverbed will transport rainwater off the visitor center’s roof under a series of bridges until it reaches a water play area. Kids can dip their feet in the water, activate water fixtures, and enjoy sandy play areas.

Enjoy the park during construction

Mississippi Gateway Regional Park remains open even as construction crews are hard at work. Visitors can hike the trails, fish from a platform located near the Coon Rapids Dam or from the shore, explore the riverbanks, and even play with their dogs in the off-leash area.

The visitor center remains open, so guests can still receive valuable insight and park details from staff. The restrooms, animal displays, and sitting and gathering areas will also remain accessible.

The next phase of construction for the park is underway, with project completion expected in 2026.

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