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Two New Parks Mark the Return to Civic Life

In the next month, Minneapolis will celebrate the addition of two new park spaces within the Minneapolis park system, marking the culmination of the RiverFirst Capital Campaign and in many ways, the reopening of public civic life.

In May, we’ll announce, together with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the completion of the Overlook at 26th Ave N. – the first new park amenity on the river directly connected to North Minneapolis. The following week we’ll open the Water Works park site – a transformation of historic mill ruins and celebration of a sacred first nations riverfront location. To safely celebrate these new park spaces, the Parks Foundation and Park Board will co-host virtual events and thereafter invite the public to experience these new spaces for the first time. The Water Works Park Pavilion and its new restaurant, Owamni by The Sioux Chef, will open in the weeks following.

To say these new public spaces are complete would be inaccurate; they are ready for the public to make them whole. These parks were envisioned and designed to be infused with stories and experiences – to be activated by the public. They are blank canvases ready for us to create new interaction with each other and to pause and listen to the stories of all the people who define our city today and in quieter moments, hear the echoes of the past.

If you are reading this, you have likely contributed in some way to help us deliver on this promise. Many individuals, foundations and corporations were able to contribute generously to the $18.1 million RiverFirst Capital Campaign. Many others have given annually to support the Parks Foundation through general operating gifts and program support. And others contributed time, talent, and perspective to ensure that these new spaces represent the city we aspire to become.

Recently, Superintendent Bangoura and I began to think about the power of this moment, considering how vital our parks have become in the past year – as both a place for wellness, community, shared trauma, and healing. Parks in the 21st Century need to do more than ever before – and these new parks are designed with that in mind. Most importantly, they are designed to connect us with each other and with the power of nature – particularly the power of the Mississippi River as it flows through our city.

I am so grateful for all the people who have helped us bring these parks into being. I am excited to walk these spaces with you and see how our community begins to live into them. Let’s infuse these places with stories of healing, joy, growth, and remembrance. I can’t wait to see them come alive with our city as we all reengage in a vibrant civic life! I look forward to seeing you on the land.

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