Park improvements at the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) site are part of a greater vision for Above the Falls Regional Park, which extends on both sides of the Mississippi River from Plymouth Avenue to the northern city limits.
It’s important to distinguish Minneapolis’ regional parks from its network of 160 neighborhood parks. Regional parks such as Above the Falls, Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Minnehaha and Theodore Wirth serve many people from outside Minneapolis and rely on funds from the state, Metropolitan Council and other public agencies with broad constituencies to develop and maintain park amenities. Neighborhood parks such as Perkins Hill or Folwell Park near the UHT site are smaller, primarily funded by local tax dollars and predominantly serve nearby residents.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board created a draft update to the Above the Falls Regional Park Master Plan in 2013, following an extensive visioning and community engagement process for Minneapolis’ Central and Upper Riverfront. This plan anticipates the construction of a parkway and bike and walking trails along the west side of the river that will eventually connect the UHT site to North Mississippi Regional Park and Victory Memorial Parkway to the north, and West River Parkway to the south. These improvements would make the UHT site part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway.
RiverFirst is a 20-year vision essential to the future of Above the Fall Regional Park. The RiverFirst vision contains several new riverfront parks and exciting riverfront park improvements aimed at better connecting communities to the Mississippi River. The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is a critical partner in turning this vision into reality.
In addition to the parkway and trails, the draft Above the Falls Regional Park Master Plan also anticipates the UHT site will have one or more significant park spaces. A signature park feature will help make the Phase 1 area of the UHT site an attractive destination for a diverse array of community members to enjoy.
Other park planning principles that will be considered during the Phase 1 planning include:
- Integrating stewardship of natural and cultural resources with parks and trails design
- Providing public access to the river through a continuous system of riverfront parks and trails
- Creating a system of Riverway Streets to link adjacent neighborhoods to the river
- Enhancing the ecological function of the river corridor, including thoughtful stormwater design and naturalization of river banks
- Linking the Upper Riverfront to the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway