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Great Northern Greenway Overlook Breaks Ground in North Minneapolis

As the Minneapolis Parks Foundation continues to deliver our mission through these difficult times, it’s important that we acknowledge and celebrate success.  With strong support from donors over the past four years, two signature RiverFirst projects are currently under construction and slated to open yet this year: Water Works and the Great Northern Greenway Overlook.   

In May, I wrote about the emerging Water Works site and all it will bring to the Central Riverfront – and each month we provide additional updates on the historic construction. 

Upriver, on the North Minneapolis riverbank, the Overlook started construction in May and is scheduled to be open to the public in September.  One of the two new park sites of the current RiverFirst Capital Campaign, the Overlook will be the first new river park in North Minneapolis in more than fifteen years, and the first with a direct connection into the Hawthorne Neighborhood and historic Farview Park. The design was informed through three years of engagement led by youth apprentices and artists from Juxtaposition Arts, a nationally recognized nonprofit that is transforming community spaces in North Minneapolis through innovative youth-serving programs, and features an apprentice-designed interpretive steel rail.

This new Overlook, which was featured nationally on Next City this week, is stunning in its design and, along with a future trail to Ole Olson Park, will reconnect a city neighborhood to the Mississippi River and the West River Parkway that stretches south along the rest of the riverfront.

Once open, the Overlook will provide the eastern bookend of a dedicated bike and pedestrian trail connecting Theodore Wirth Parkway to the Mississippi River.  Just as importantly, it will directly link Nellie Stone Johnson – a Minneapolis Public K-8 School –to the natural wonders of our riverfront.  Countless school children will now have the opportunity to see firsthand great blue herons and bald eagles only a few blocks from the school doors. 

Our city, nation, and world are facing unprecedented challenges and some days even the most optimistic among us feel the weight of the circumstances around us. While we wrestle with systemic solutions and strive to deliver a more racially just city, these new spaces will be part of our city’s future and help redefine how public spaces connect us to each other and the natural world.

I am grateful for the people and companies that have invested in the Minneapolis Parks Foundation and the RiverFirst Campaign.  We are within $450,000 of our goal and our staff and Board continue to reach out to expand on our impact across the city.  If you would like to learn more about how you can help us reach our goal and see these sites in person or virtually, please let us know and we will make time. You may also email Jennifer at jdownham@mplsparksfoundation.org.

In a year when parks and outdoor space have never been more important to the health and wellbeing of our city, we are thrilled to add two new sites to the Minneapolis park system and are grateful to those who have contributed to make it happen.  Thank you. I look forward to celebrating these community achievements with you.

Featured image: Overlook in progress, July 2020.

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