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Building New Connections

New Partnership Paves the Way for a New Trail Connection Between Ole Olson Park and the 26th Avenue Overlook

We’re thrilled to share the news that the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board has reached an historic agreement with the Continental Cement Company authorizing an easement for a new riverfront trail segment that will connect Ole Olson Park to the Great Northern Greenway Overlook at 26th Avenue. 

Set to begin construction later this fall, the project will create a new 1000-foot trail link in North Minneapolis, with biking and walking paths that will run beneath an existing railroad bridge. When it’s complete in late 2024, the trail will join the Great Northern Greenway Overlook to the downtown riverfront and the 51-mile Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, which connects most of Minneapolis through a continuous bike and walking path. 

Though the trail link is relatively short in length, Tom Evers, executive director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, predicts it will have an outsize impact on extending access to the riverfront for North Minneapolis, and connecting every corner of the city through our parks system. 

“This is the culmination of a vision that RiverFirst contributors have been striving toward from the start—extending the promise of Minneapolis’s park system to every neighborhood,” he says. “As the lead philanthropic partner to the Minneapolis parks, we see the Continental Cement Company’s generous decision to allow a new park trail to come to life on their industrial property for what it is–an extraordinary gift to the public.” 

To learn more about MPRB’s design plans for the trail link, visit here.

Seeing a New “Riverview”

Support for the RiverFirst Initiative was critical to making this public/private partnership a success, says Shawn Lewis, Project Coordinator for the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. “Building the Great Northern Greenway Overlook at 26th Avenue as part of the first phase of RiverFirst established a new beachhead for parks infrastructure in North Minneapolis, and it’s doing just what we hoped it would–it’s helping the surrounding community see the river, and the possibilities that flow through it, from a fresh perspective.”

Just last week, our partners at Juxtaposition Arts’ Environmental Design Studio created a new art installation along the chain link fence at CenterPoint Energy’s 26th Avenue facility. Made from recycled plastic conduit, the “Riverview” project reflects on both the current views of the river created by parks development as well as the site’s past as the Riverview Supper Club, a storied North Minneapolis nightclub. Made possible in part by grants from CenterPoint Energy and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, the project is just one of the ways the Minneapolis Parks Foundation is working to activate the site, which was unveiled in 2021, and to engage neighbors with the new possibilities created by expanding parks assets. 

Images courtesy of Juxtaposition Arts.

Looking to the Future

With this critical trail link coming soon, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation looks forward to working with the MPRB and other partners as we explore how to fill another gap in the regional trail system— creating a new connection point between North and Northeast Minneapolis. Last week was MPRB’s deadline for designers to share their qualifications to undertake a feasibility study and schematic design plan for a pedestrian bridge that would span the Mississippi River, someday connecting the Great Northern Greenway in North Minneapolis to the Minneapolis Diagonal Trail in Northeast Minneapolis. 

Building the next generation of parks in Minneapolis demands even more innovative ideas, smart stewardship and generous commitment from people like you, who helped make the initial phase of RiverFirst a reality. If you share our excitement about what’s happening on the river, we hope you’ll join us at our annual Sunrise on the Mississippi breakfast on September 7, where you will hear even more good news about what’s happening in our parks. With a special presentation from JXTA’s environmental studio apprentices and a keynote from Dr. Nisha Botchwey, dean of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, we look forward to celebrating what your support for RiverFirst is making possible today, and for the next generation of parks lovers. 

Featured image courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

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