Parks Update: Concepts begin to emerge in Water Works park project

Concepts begin to emerge in Water Works park project

Last month initial concepts for Water Works park were presented to the public by representatives from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), the Minneapolis Parks Foundation and the private firms hired to design and build the park.

At this point no park features are set in stone, although basic ideas have begun to emerge for the planned park in between the Stone Arch and 3rd Ave. bridges along the Mississippi River. The team behind the design of Water Works will focus on fixing disjointed pedestrian and bike circulation, opening up views of and access to the river, creating a terraced landscape that offers “places of movement” and “places of rest,” and making additional mill ruins open for exploration. 

Mary deLaittre, executive director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, said that they were looking at revenue options, perhaps an onsite restaurant, to help fund yearly maintenance of the park.

Andrew Caddock, a MPRB project supervisor, hinted that the old Fuji-Ya building at the Water Works site could be demolished, calling it “pretty much beyond repair.”

State Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-60B) asked about how the potential closure of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam could affect the park’s plans.

“That’s one of those issues that’s bigger than this area plan,” said Caddock. “For now we’re focusing on what the Park Board can do, and we’ll adjust if a decision is made.”

Water Works is one of nine sites the Central Mississippi Riverfront Master Plan is studying. The master plan covers both sides of the river from the 35W bridge in the south to the Plymouth Ave. bridge in the north.

The next public update on Water Works will be in mid-January, when a concept design and alternative designs will be presented. The final presentation of the park’s design is slated for mid-March.

Many construction projects make mess, but bring upgrades to Theodore Wirth

A number of ongoing construction projects at Theodore Wirth Park have some sections of its 759 acres looking a little rough.

More than a mile of new mountain biking trails are being constructed near the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Theodore Wirth Parkway. These trails are replacing unsanctioned paths that have developed over the years. For the first time MPRB is using professional contractors to build mountain biking trails, and they have been using excavators to clear room and shape the trails .

Workers from Schoenbauer Consulting and Trail Source have collaborated with MPRB staff and volunteers from Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists Association (MOCA) to come up with the trail’s final design. Volunteers from MOCA were instrumental in building the original mountain biking trails that opened at Theodore Wirth in 2005.

A grand opening for the new trails has not been scheduled, but a “soft opening” is planned for mid-Oct. In the coming years there are tentative plans to build even more mountain biking trails where holes 17 and 18 of the golf course are currently.

To the north, in the Back 40 section of the park, crews are working on reconstructing hiking paths that have had problems with moisture and erosion.

“There’s a lot of trails in the Back 40 area that were never designed and they go straight down the hill. These are problematic from an environmental perspective because they’re very unstable and cause a lot of erosion,” said Andrea Weber, a MPRB project manager.

Park staff has been shutting down and replanting the unsanctioned trails.

After a few hiccups in the construction process, including a broken sewer main that caused minor flooding, the grand opening of the renovated Wirth Pavilion will be on Sunday, Oct. 27, 1-3 p.m.

The original pavilion was built in 1930 with the capacity for 125 people. A small kitchen, catering prep area, and two classrooms were also renovated as part of the project.

MPRB staff says a project to prevent and clean up erosion on Bassett Creek will probably be delayed due to the federal government shutdown. An application for a project permit was submitted two months ago, but the US Army Corps of Engineers has a huge backlog due to the sequester, and now they are not processing any permits due to the shutdown. Work was likely to begin this winter, but now that will probably be pushed back to next fall.

For those interested in a more detailed look at the upgrades happening at Theodore Wirth, a meeting to discuss the park’s updated concept master plan will be held on Friday, Oct. 11 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m in the Powderhorn Conference Room at MPRB headquarters, 2117 West River Road.

New playground opens at Marshall Terrace park

The new playground at Marshall Terrace park has officially opened.

New features include a log balance beam and log crawl tunnel, mushroom stepping pods, a toddler playhouse, a climbing boulder and several slides.

The previous playground was built in 1982 and lacked up-to-date safety and accessibility standards, according to Andrea Weber, a MPRB project manager. It was completely dismantled and new sand and composite walking surface were brought in.

Funding for the new playground was obtained in 2011, public meetings and surveys were conducted throughout 2012 and construction began in August 2013.

The $200,000 project was funded by the MPRB and Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funds granted from the Concerned Citizens of Marshall Terrace.