Steering Committee > Jan 17, 2013 meeting minutes

RiverFirst Steering Committee
January 17, 2013
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Board Room
7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Welcome: John Erwin welcomed Committee members and visitors and called the meeting to order at 8:00 a.m.

Noted that this project is a tremendous public-private collaboration.  The design team provided wonderful storyboards and other visuals – so helpful to see the projects and phases illustrated.  A reminder that now is the time to keep the momentum rolling; the community needs to see progress and tangible actions as this effort moves forward.

Introductions: Bruce Chamberlain

A public thank you to Andrew Caddock for his work as the Project Manager on this Initiative.  The magnitude is huge; this is one of the largest projects in recent park history.

Initiative Updates

  • Mary deLaittre revisited for the group the three overall goals of the original design competition and how those goals are still driving the process.
  1. Establish park as an engine for economic development
  2. Ensure connections to, across, and by the River
  3. Reorient people to the River
  • Mary also discussed the role of the Steering Committee members – to provide advocacy, expertise and critical connections/support.  Within this capacity, staff has been working closely with many Steering Committee members individually as issues come up and in preparation for the finance strategy and Legislative session.
  • Mary gave a oommunications review
  1. All communication efforts support the Priority Projects’ progress.
  2. Fact sheets are being created, focusing on:  environmental aspect, economic opportunity, and overall benefit analysis of the Initiative.
  3. As part of an Insight Series, Tom Fisher interviewed Tom Leader about RiverFirst and trends in landscape design and urban planning.  This will be available on the RiverFirst blog and website.

Finance Strategy

  • Jon Commers updated the committee on the development of the Finance Strategy. This covers multiple sources:  public (federal, state and local), corporate, philanthropic, and individual. This helps to tailor future funding research and opportunities.
  • The initial work has focused on geospatial analysis and information on the parcels of land within a half mile of the River within the area of the Initiative and its priority projects.
  • The next step is conducting interviews with key stakeholders in all of the funding sources listed. This is underway, and three key themes are emerging from these discussions.
  1. Interest in specific sites bound together by RiverFirst
  2. Eagerness for immediate term demonstration
  3. Desire to make RiverFirst concrete for the public
  • Confirmed that this work is within the timeline for this phase of the project; interviews and research will continue for several more months with a draft report scheduled for May.
  • Emphasized that as he is researching funding sources, he is trying to match them with specific projects and needs. For example, tying transportation money to trails and loops

City of Minneapolis Update

  • Jeremy Hanson-Willis reiterated how thrilled the City is to be involved in this major project and updated the Committee on two connected aspects.
  • Above the Falls Master Plan
  1. The original plan – adopted in 2000 – needed updating to reflect the change in times and economic realities. This was a perfect opportunity to align with the River First Initiative efforts.
  2. A draft master plan was approved by the City in December 2012, and is available for public review and comments through January 24, 2013.  It will go to the City Council for vote in March 2013.
  • Upper Harbor Terminal

An updated Above the Falls plan makes redesigning this more flexible.  Currently looking at multi-use scenarios, and undertaking a land-use appraisal.

Water Works Update

Mary deLaittre reviewed the progress on Phase II – Pre-development. It would take $300K for designers to develop a concept. The Minneapolis Parks Foundation has raised $140K to date for this effort, and is continuing to cultivate donors and funds from those along this stretch of the river. Goal is to complete the fundraising by March.

Gateway Park Update

Win Rockwell, representing the Gateway Park Committee, detailed the efforts by the group to create a new green space running from the River to the 5th Street light rail station.

  • There are a couple of parcels of land in this swath that will be coming into the City’s ownership which will allow for a continuous green space the length of the project.
  • Funds are being raised to do an RFP for development proposals, and the development could parallel that of other priority projects within RiverFirst.

RiverFirst Design Team Update

Andrew Caddock prefaced the presentation by Tom Leader Studios with an acknowledgment of how challenging the technical design issues are with this project.  The two lead teams are working with an array of partners – many of them local firms – on various technical aspects of the overall design.

  • The team is at the mid-point in the work timeline, and is on schedule.
  • There is a great deal of inter-agency collaboration among the City, County, National Park Service and other River partners.
  • There are several immediate opportunities within the priority projects.  This is the wonderful challenge of the project – new parks and new types of parks are being created.

Tom Leader’s team reviewed the storyboards on several of the priority projects and walked through some of the technical issues, regulatory concerns, design options and immediate steps.

  • Lowry Bridge:  another immediate opportunity to create a new public green space and provide stair and ramp access to the River.
  • 26th Ave N: reconnect the street ending to the River with steps and pier.
  • Floating Island: opportunity to pilot them in the River by the BNSF bridge.
  • Scherer Park/Halls Island: on Phase II of this project – a signature park for the entire Initiative. Features for Scherer Park include open space leading to a river beach, and a connection to a revamped Halls Island.
    1. A public open house is scheduled for this evening, January 17, 2013, at Nicollet Island Pavilion to allow the public to view the storyboards, hear presentations on the projects’ designs and ask questions.
    2. Andrew highlighted the intense discussion focusing on recreating Halls Island among the design team, the DNR and US Army Corps of Engineers. The design team is looking for input from this committee and our river partners to help ensure that the design for this Island gets permitted.
  • Open discussion centered on the variety of projects and efforts that seemed to be going on in multiple places, often by multiple entities.

MPRB Legislative Agenda

Bruce Chamberlin reviewed the projects and funds that the Board was seeking from the state legislature this session.

  • The Park designation fee has the highest priority.
  • Funding for multiple RiverFirst projects are included in both the state and federal funding list.
  • For the first time, MPRB is going to DC with a federal legislative agenda.


  • Mary deLaittre ended the meeting with a reminder to attend the open house for more details about the design specifics, and to contact state legislators, the DNR and US Army Corps of Engineer representatives with input on the Halls Island plans.
  • Next meeting will be April 18, 2013.

Download 01-17-13 R1 Steering Minutes (pdf) >

Leave a Reply