After a more than a year of plans, amended plans and often contentious debate with neighborhood residents, it appears a compromise has been reached on the route to fill in the “missing link” of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway between St. Anthony Parkway in Northeast Minneapolis and East River Parkway in Southeast.
On Sept. 3, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioners unanimously approved the route, which will include parkways and open space. “Everyone came together and worked hard to recommend a route that reflects the vision and consensus of so many perspectives and needs,” said Park Board President Tom Nordyke in a press release.
Starting from Stinson Avenue and St. Anthony Parkway, the route will run through St. Anthony along Gross National Golf Course and follow Industrial Boulevard to East Hennepin Avenue, where it will enter Southeast Como and follow 29th and Weeks avenues before passing underneath the Burlington Northern railroad tracks to Kasota Avenue, then over the rail yard on bridges to connect with the new Granary Road proposed by the City of Minneapolis.
From there, it follows 27th Avenue in Prospect Park, ending at East River Parkway, where it picks up with the current Grand Rounds.
Connie Sullivan, a Southeast Como resident who served on the project’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC), said she is satisfied with the route, which she said is a compromise between the desires and concerns of the various stakeholders. Residents opposed an earlier plan to remove houses along 18th Avenue Southeast, and businesses opposed a route further east that would have impacted existing industrial areas.
Nick Eoloff, project manager for the Missing Link, applauded citizens’ involvement with the project. “The citizens became involved in the planning process, and their suggestions increased the support that is needed to move this project forward,” he said in a release.
In turn, Sullivan lauded the work of Eoloff and Park Board Commissioner John Irwin, whom she called “a good leader. He was committed to getting it done; the same for Nick Eoloff,” she said.
While the Park Board is looking ahead to next steps, it admits that “completion of the Missing Link will take many years.” Although a completed master plan has been developed and will be submitted to the Metropolitan Council Park and Open Space Commission, the project now faces questions of implementation and, most of all, funding, which could come from federal and state sources and the Metropolitan Council.
Sullivan added that political will, as much as or more than funding, could stand in the way. “It will be a long-term project; when they say it might be 20 years or more, it’s probably true,” she said.
For more information on the project, visit www.minneapolisparks.org and click on “Missing Link.”