The benefits of a signature park located in downtown Minneapolis to civic pride, attracting young professionals, and economic development are clear, writes Marlys Harris. Besides, "[a]ll the very best cities have one." The most promising prospect is being championed by Minneapolis civic and business leaders involved in the Trust for Public Land, who since 2008 have "been jonesing for a major park in the city's core."
"The plan that has evolved is Gateway Park," says Harris, "which would stretch from 5th Street to the Mississippi. In a way, it's more a green corridor with lots of trees lining Hennepin and Nicollet to hook up two major splotches of actual park. The first would unite Cancer Survivors Park between Second and Third Streets with a now-empty lot next to the Main Library... Two triangles of land fronting Hennepin would provide passageways to a second large patch on Hennepin and First Street that would terrace down to the waterfront below."
According to Harris, "[p]ractically everybody in town has signed on to the plan: the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the mayor, the steering committee which includes leaders from Target, Piper Jaffray, the Pohlad Family Companies, the Minneapolis Planning Commission and the Parks and Recreation Board."
However obstacles remain. "The main problem may be that no official government body seems to 'own' the project. The Downtown Council and the Trust for Public Land are its 'champions,' says [Bruce Chamberlain, assistant superintendant for planning services for Park and Recreation]. But the Park Board sees Gateway as an adjunct to its own agenda to develop the riverfront from downtown to the city's northern border."