This month, Minneapolis has added two beautiful additions to our already incredible park system: The Trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park and the Cedar Lake South Beach bathhouse. The Minneapolis Parks Foundation supported both projects. For The Trailhead, the Parks Foundation contributed to the capital campaign and helped secure gap financing. In the case of Cedar Beach, an individual, inspired by the neighborhood’s inclusive vision, contributed through the Parks Foundation the funds needed to ensure that the planned improvements could be fully realized.
Both projects highlight the transformative role of philanthropy and partnerships in our parks. Congratulations should be extended widely – The Loppet Foundation’s board and staff have worked tirelessly to fund the construction of what will become a regional hub for bikers, skiers, and golfers. The Cedar Isles Dean Neighborhood Association was the critical partner to the Park Board in designing and funding the Cedar Lake upgrade.
These successes inspire me because they are reflective of what is yet to come. The RiverFirst Campaign, in partnership with the Park Board and many others, will create iconic destinations on the Mississippi River. This month, we crossed the $14 million mark of our $18 Million capital campaign to support the future Water Works site downtown and the Great Northern Greenway River Link in North Minneapolis. We are within $2.5 million of our commitment to launch construction for Water Works. Now is the time for you to contribute to this effort so we can celebrate even more in 2019 and 2020.
In the coming weeks, the Park Board will launch the design development and pre-construction phase for the Great Northern Greenway River Link, a destination overlook connecting North Minneapolis to the Mississippi River via a new bike and pedestrian trail. Generous donors – led by General Mills and joined by Target – have already committed to this critical link. When completed, neighborhood kids from Farview Park and Nellie Stone Johnson elementary school will have a meaningful, natural connection to the river’s edge.
Downtown, preconstruction on the Water Works site has begun, with archeological excavation of mill remnants beginning this month and construction beginning this winter. We are within reach of our fundraising goal and are working with donors like you who understand that the Mississippi River is the centerpiece for our city’s park system.
Once completed, these new park amenities will drive economic development, preserve and increase access to the natural environment, and create the common space that transforms life in the city.
RiverFirst is the most ambitious and important improvement to the storied Minneapolis park system in generations. Over a century ago, visionary community leaders planted the seeds for the park system we enjoy today because they saw the value of protecting the natural world in urban environments. With the completion of RiverFirst, every neighborhood will have access through our parks to the benefits parks and the natural world provide.
Now it’s your turn. Many have followed the progress, attended events and house parties, or taken tours related to RiverFirst. We want all of you to be with us at the ribbon cutting in celebration. With your help, we’ll go the distance in the RiverFirst Campaign and start a new era of parks that connect us, heal us, and make us whole.
We hope you say yes and help transform the riverfront for the generations to come.