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News release: MPRB staff to recommend adopting riverfirst, 15 Feb 2012

News Release

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to recommend adopting RiverFIRST plan                  

MPRB Planning Services will present \”next steps” recommendations to Park Board Planning Committee, Wednesday, February 15; Board to vote March 14

Minneapolis, Minn., February 10, 2012 – The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board may soon begin transforming the city\’s industry-heavy Upper Riverfront from inhospitable to inviting, thanks to destination parks and trails that reconnect residents and visitors with one of the three great rivers of the world and \”America\’s fourth coast.” The prospect is envisaged in RiverFIRST: A Park Design Proposal and Implementation Framework for the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront, a plan for 5.5 miles of riverfront with the potential to create the largest expanse of new public and green space since the Minneapolis Parks system was first created over 100 years ago.

On February 15, at the Board\’s 5:00 PM meeting, Park Board Planning Services staff will recommend to the Board\’s Planning Committee that the RiverFIRST plan be formally adopted. The recommendation is being made as part of a proposed resolution that will move RiverFIRST into a 2012 planning and design phase for projects to be built beginning in 2013. Following the Planning Committee\’s review and feedback on the RiverFIRST resolution, Park Board Commissioners will vote on adoption at the 5:00 PM Board meeting on Wednesday, March 14.

The RiverFIRST plan is the outcome of the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MR|DI). The MR|DI design team of Tom Leader Studio and Kennedy & Violich Architecture (TLS/KVA) and finance consultants HR&A Advisors originally presented the draft RiverFIRST Proposal to Park Board Commissioners on September 21, 2011. The Board authorized a 45-day public comment period on the plan, after which Minneapolis Park Board Planning Services staff edited the draft, amended the implementation guide and incorporated public comments, in preparation for presenting its recommendations to The Board.

Planning Services\’ two additional recommendations are formally adopting \”RiverFIRST” as the project name and identity and authorizing a series of \”next steps,” including seeking a regional park boundary adjustment for the Scherer site; using RiverFIRST as a basis for coordinating with the City of Minneapolis to update the Above the Falls Master Plan; seeking a scope of work and fee proposal from TLS/KVA for the next stage of design; and working with the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to establish a collaboration agreement with RiverFIRST implementation partners.

\”With the adoption of these recommendations, the Minneapolis Park Board will take a significant first step toward making the compelling RiverFIRST vision a reality for Minneapolis residents and visitors,” says Bruce Chamberlain, Assistant Superintendent for Planning. \”Throughout the city\’s history, a lack of interconnected natural public and green space has impeded residents\’ enjoyment of our magnificent river amenity. With the realization of RiverFIRST, the Minneapolis Park Board and our partners can literally and figuratively change the Upper Riverfront landscape in as little as three to five years.”

The RiverFIRST resolution and supporting documents are available online at and

The road to RiverFIRST

RiverFIRST began as a visionary entry in the renowned Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition, an international landscape design and urban planning competition presented by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation in 2010-11. Design team TLS/KVA won the MR|DC on the strength of their RiverFIRST concept, which addressed 21st century challenges including ecological heritage (water), economic opportunity (\”green economy”), community health and mobility.

In April 2011, the Minneapolis Park Board established the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MR|DI) as a special project to carry through the promise of connecting people from near and far with new multifunctional Upper Riverfront parks along \”America\’s fourth coast.” The MR|DI was charged with transforming RiverFIRST from a visionary concept to a workable plan for short- and long-term parks-based development.

Beginning in June 2011, MR|DI carried out a summer-long community engagement process that included: a community input survey taken by more than 600 people; Promotion and participation in more than 30 community events throughout Minneapolis; three additional public meetings held in association with the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership; more than 40 presentations and meetings with neighborhood associations, community-based non-profit organizations, agencies and other stakeholder groups; and the debut of \”River Is,” a figurative gathering of people\’s thoughts about the Mississippi today and for the future.

For more information, please visit and


Release-MPRB staff recommends adopting riverfirst (pdf)

Posted in Community Engagement, Design, Events, News, TLS/KVA.

One Response to News release: MPRB staff to recommend adopting riverfirst, 15 Feb 2012

  1. Anurag says:

    An amazing cnepoct, on all levels. Naysayers scoff at the price and point to the recession, but their views are short-sighted. In hard times, governments turn time and time again to spending on infrastructure, parks, trails and natural resources, as this directly creates jobs, opens up opportunities for private spending and increases the health of the population. RiverFirst promises to promote a green industry along the river, create more jobs, build healthier neighborhoods and increase area tourism. We have seen revitalized areas improve economically time and time again. There is no reason this area would not do the same. What’s more, there is proof that naturalizing and revitalizing industrial or depressed areas can fend off crime, as the area becomes more popular, frequented and even policed. Having addressed the economic boon of something like this, I think it’s also important to appreciate the proposal from a philosophical perspective. There is nothing that represents Minneapolis more than the notion of a clean, usable Mississippi .one that is both functional (allowing for industry, barge traffic and the like) and beautiful. In a world of rapid industrialization and rampant development, it is rare to create space for nature. The idea of restoring wetlands and native vegetation, building floating islands and merging green space with commerce and neighborhoods is a step in the right direction. I think it is something everybody can and should stand behind.As regards the cost issue, it should be possible to break this project into various stages, each with its own funding and timeline. That will bring this idea to life piecemeal, rather than having it all wait until proper funding is secured. A serious fraction of funding could come from the Lessard Heritage Council, which designates money for parks and trails. Hoping this idea comes to life./shawn

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