The Loring Greenway is getting the first phase of a $2-million facelift in the coming months, with upgraded lighting and sprinklers, new playground equipment and the removal of a wall to open the Loring Park entrance for better visibility.
"Ideally, we will see some construction later this summer and in the fall. We are on an aggressive timeline," said Mike Kennedy, director of field services for the Minneapolis Public Works Department.
The Loring Greenway is a pedestrian connection from Nicollet Avenue to Loring Park. It runs roughly from 12th Street and Nicollet to a spot in the park near the Berger Fountain.
Built more than two decades ago, the Greenway is showing signs of age.
"Site furnishings, lighting and other amenities have become old and outdated, paving materials have begun to fail, planting areas have become difficult to maintain, and the presence of bicyclists and skateboarders has created conflicts with pedestrians on the Greenway," wrote SRF Consulting Group in May 2001.
The current wall near Willow Street blocks the view between the Greenway and the park, making it look like a dead end, Kennedy said. It is an "enclosed, dark area that is inviting to undesirable elements," he said.
The design of the new gateway into the park is not yet complete, Kennedy said.
The city's long-range capital improvement plan had $2 million earmarked for the project in 2006, he said. City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), who represents the Loring Park neighborhood, found $500,000 in the 2002 capital budget to start the project.
The city had planned to repave a quarter-mile section of Ewing Avenue South between Cedar Lake Parkway and Drew Avenue South, installing curbs and gutters, he said. It would have cost roughly $500,000.
Neighbors opposed the project, however, Kennedy said. Goodman worked with Public Works to swap the street money to upgrade the Loring Greenway.
Public Works still plans to spend $1.5 million on the Greenway in 2006 to fix such things as the paving, plantings, shuffleboard area, furnishings and the gateway from the Greenway to Nicollet Avenue, Kennedy said.
Citizens for a Loring Park Community is contributing $59,500 from its Neighborhood Revitalization Program money to pay for the playground equipment. Installation should begin in July or August, Kennedy said.