Park Board, partners to weigh new Cedar-Riverside facility

Over the next year the Park Board and its partners will look at building a new multi-use facility in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood where need for community space has vastly outgrown the popular Brian Coyle Center.

As part of an agreement approved April 18, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will explore working with the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, Augsburg University and Pillsbury United Communities to add another community center to the most densely populated neighborhood in the city. Local leaders say the area’s large East African community and other residents require another place to gather beyond the aging one-story center.

“It is extremely busy. The Brian Coyle Center is old, crowded,” Assistant Superintendent of Planning Michael Schroeder said. “I think the needs in this community are significant enough where it’s reasonable to imagine that we would have two facilities.”

How the shared facility would work out is still unclear, but Augsburg would provide the land — a large parking lot at Riverside & 25th on the east side of its campus — and the YMCA and Pillsbury United Communities, a nonprofit that operates the existing Brian Coyle Center, may operate or program the building. Augsburg may replace displaced stalls with structured parking, Schroeder said.

Park staff and partners will study how feasible a second center is through more than $300,000 of funding from the Legislature.

Schroeder said the project likely won’t look quite like a recreation center or a YMCA facility.

“We don’t know what it would be, but this initial stage would help us resolve that,” he told commissioners during an April 8 meeting.

Amano Dube, director of the Brian Coyle Center, said the need for resources in the area is intense because the center is a regional destination for East African communities across the metro area looking for family programming, kitchen space or a place to play.

“Over the years, the issue of space … and the number of amenities for different age groups has been a critical issue,” he told commissioners.

Schroeder said a new facility would bring the area up to speed with neighborhoods that have seen investments like the new Northeast Park Recreation Center in Northeast Minneapolis.

“There is no comparison between the facilities,” he said.

The new center would also mean that residents would still have the access to resources while the Brian Coyle Center sees potential future renovations.