Hello St. Paul Friends,
Summer in St. Paul is now in full swing with warm temperatures and exciting news about new parks. I want to update you on a couple of projects to reconnect St. Paul with the majestic Mississippi River as well as a reminder to take advantage of all the offerings from our great city parks.
Between the headwaters of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, no city has more river frontage than the City of St. Paul. In fact, St. Paul has 26 miles of Mississippi River shoreline. For too many years, St. Paul has turned away from recreational activity on the river and severed direct connections with adjacent neighborhoods and communities. I want to share news about a couple of park projects along the Mississippi that is recently finished or in various forms of development to reconnect St. Paul to our beloved river.
On June 14, I joined Mayor Melvin Carter, Parks and Rec Director Andy Rodriguez, and skateboarders Luke Hanno and Theo Miller, as we celebrated the grand opening of Gateway Park. Located at the corner of Mississippi Boulevard and Ford Parkway, Gateway Park is the first of four new parks to be built at Highland Bridge – the location of the old Ford assembly plant. When middle school students Luke and Theo heard that a new park was going to be constructed at Highland Bridge, they contacted the City of St. Paul because the nearest park with skating facilities was too far away from their homes. Working with city staff, their initial idea to include skateboard facilities gained traction and was eventually included as part of the overall Gateway Park design. This is a great example of our city staff listening to the concerns of young adults and incorporating their feedback into the final design of a meaningful project.
Additionally at Highland Bridge, Uŋči Makȟa Park will be the next public space to open later this summer. Uŋči Makȟa, which means “Mother Earth” in Dakota, includes geography and features that connect people from the developed Highland Bridge site to more natural areas, including access to Hidden Falls Regional Park. The park links the stormwater system from the neighborhood into the daylighted creek to the falls. Together, Highland Bridge and surrounding communities will be better connected to the Mississippi River with expanded parks for all to enjoy our unique environment.
Down River from Uŋči Makȟa Park, a new park area is in development as part of the Mississippi River Learning Center. This center is a city-led project combining a mixed-use, river-focused space and a National Park Service headquarters at the Crosby Farm Regional Park, serving as a national gateway to the Mississippi River with year-round river learning and outdoor recreation experiences on and along St. Paul’s river.
The Great River Passage Conservancy and the City of St. Paul are working with New York-based W Architecture & Landscape Architecture to lead the Mississippi River Learning Center’s schematic design process. The schematic design includes site analysis, exploring design concepts, providing a general overview of the Mississippi River Learning Center’s basic features and programming, and getting a general idea of the look and feel of the project. A third community meeting will take place on July 21st as part of the community engagement process, visit greatriverpassage.org/projects/river-learning-center/ to learn more.
These park projects vary in size and completion, but together they will have an immense impact on the future of St. Paul and how we interact with our majestic Mississippi River.
While beautiful, river areas present safety hazards, so please pay attention to your surroundings and abide by all posted signs and barriers to do your part to keep yourself and others safe. As a reminder, because of the fast current there are no designated swimming areas on the Mississippi River in St. Paul. I highly encourage our youth and adults alike to take a break from our digital screens and make time to safely explore the Mississippi River parks system this summer.
Contact my office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 651-266-8630.
Regards, Chris Tolbert, Councilmember Ward 3
Hello St. Paul Friends,