North Loop park committee kicks off tomorrow

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March 26, 2014
By: Ben Johnson
A concept developed during the 2013 North Loop park scoping study
Ben Johnson

The next step toward creating a park in the asphalt-dominated North Loop neighborhood begins tomorrow, when the North Loop Park Steering Committee meets for the first time.

The meeting is at 6:00 p.m. in the community room of the Whole Foods at 222 Hennepin Ave.

Last year the rapidly growing neighborhood completed a scoping study that analyzed four possible locations.

The preferred site that emerged is at 747 3rd St., a 2.3-acre parking lot that serves the Bassett Creek Business Center. Schafer Richardson, arguably North Loop’s most prolific developer, owns the site and will have a representative serve on the steering committee.

The main challenge that needs to be addressed is finding funding, first to buy the land and build the park, and then to maintain it year after year.

“I can see potential problems with a single, big green space owned and maintained by the general public, and I want to ask the steering committee whether or not they have the same concerns,” said Kit Richardson of Schafer Richardson.

“Is it really desirable to have one big park that no one can maintain, or should we be thinking about multiple, smaller green areas instead?”

The parkland dedication ordinance that went into effect on Jan. 1 should provide some funding for the new park. It requires developers to either include a certain amount of green space in new projects or pay a fee to the Park Board for acquiring or improving park space.

Park Board President Liz Wielinski said Park Board staff have been working on shifting around the budget to accommodate new maintenance costs the park being built in Downtown East as well as the potential park in North Loop could incur.