Dry Falls 2

St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge are threatened – Here’s how you can help save them

August 28, 2015 by Janette Law

Recently, Crown Hydro amended its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a St. Anthony Falls-based hydropower plant. Now a quarter of a century old, Crown Hydro’s proposal is wholly out of step with major advancements on the Central Riverfront, which – with St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge at its center – is arguably the heart of Minneapolis. Also during that time, “Crown Hydro has been unable or unwilling to abide by the terms set by FERC, and is facing termination,” notes the Mill City Times.

Crown Hydro’s Project threatens to raze 30 years’ of Central Riverfront reinvestment. Further, it threatens to derail the widely embraced plan for Water Works – a near-future expansion of the iconic Mill Ruins Park.

Today, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation joined our partners at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, Mill City Times, and other agencies in opposing the Crown Hydro proposal by sending a letter urging FERC to reject Crown Hydro’s amendment.

You can help save St. Anthony Falls, too.


Mill City Times has prepared a step-by-step guide for submitting online comments to FERC. It will only take you a few minutes and you could make a real difference in the future of the Central Riverfront. But please do it today – the last day for comments August 30, 2015.

Excerpt From MPF’s August 28, 2015 Letter to FERC

The future of St. Anthony Falls and the Minneapolis Central Riverfront are vital to connecting Minneapolis to the river. Because of this, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation opposes the Crown Hydro License Amendment Application, dated April 30, 2015. Thank you for the opportunity to share the following comments and concerns.

Minneapolis, like other major cities across America, is reinvesting in its riverfront in response to generational shifts in the economy, the environment, and community values. Crown Hydro’s Project is wholly out of step with a 21st century definition of an urban “working river” because it calls for disinvestment in parks and public space that are proven as the real economic engine for the region.

Water Works will be an unparalleled cultural and recreational experience on the downtown riverfront. Water Works is the epicenter of the third most visited park in Minneapolis with over 2.5 million visits in 2014. It is a fascinatingly complex cultural landscape that captivates its visitors and has taken the helm as one of most iconic settings in Minnesota.

The Twin Cities philanthropic community is poised to make significant investments in the Water Works site and the open new connections to the Upper River though this location. The Crown Hydro Project threatens several critical aspects of the park expansion and the overall experience at St. Anthony Falls – the birthplace of Minneapolis:

  • Access to the Mississippi River. The Project’s proposed intake channels and tailraces will eliminate critical portages at St. Anthony Falls, effectively purging recreational boating. Further, the estimated near-constant flow of water in the intake channel of 1,200 CFS would be incredibly dangerous for those on watercraft and anyone in the water.
  • Cultural and historic resources. The Water Works plan calls for revealing and interpreting the historic mill district intake channel and gatehouse. Doing so would fulfill the 30-year vision for Mill Ruins Park.
  • Mobility and trails. Finally, we cannot overstress the importance of public access and safety. In addition to frequent high-attendance public events, this site is the intersection for thousands of daily commuters and multi-generational visitors who cross paths here by car, bike and on foot. Infrastructure required to build and operate the Project would create on-going highly dangerous convergences between vulnerable persons and heavy equipment.

For these reasons, we are opposed to the approval of the Crown Hydro License Amendment Application and respectfully request that it be denied.

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Featured image courtesy of MN Historical Society

 

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