Northeast parks developments: $1 million Federal Highway Administration grant for trail construction, Sheridan Memorial Park artist chosen


For the neighbors who say their summer festival is “SNO Big Deal,” a million-dollar grant will be a very big deal…in Sheridan and beyond.

The grant, from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), will develop a three-quarter-mile off-road bike and pedestrian trail from Eighth Avenue NE to the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge at 16th Avenue NE.

The only Minnesota project awarded from FHWA’s Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program was one of 83 selected nationwide from a field of 600 applying. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff and Cordelia Pierson from the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership wrote the application. Pierson lauded 13 letters of support in an email announcing the award.

Andrew Caddock, a parks project manager, said in an email the next steps include gathering land survey data, developing the design, and coordinating the project with partners including the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County, the agencies that own the two roadway bridges (Broadway and Plymouth Avenue). Dotted lines in the graphic on page 16 show optional potential trail alignments at those bridges.

The trail could use the areas under the roadway bridges, Caddock said. “The design for the veterans’ memorial at Sheridan Memorial Park accommodates a trail, so disruption to the memorial should be minimal to none, although the park could be closed during actual construction.”

“As with the trails across the river, on West River Road North between Plymouth and North 22nd Avenue, trail design will incorporate sustainable practices in stormwater management, plantings, shoreline protection and habitat—thus improving conditions along the riverbank. The trail will transform disused industrial areas into parks that are accessible to all, and will extend the options for non-motorized transportation in our city,” Caddock said.

The grant “sunsets” in 2015 so construction has to start by then. “We hope to move ahead as quickly as possible” but the timeline is to be determined. The work will be contracted out.

The grant requires a $500,000 local match. “This trail is within the Above the Falls Regional Park, so it is possible that regional parks funding from the Metropolitan Council could be one source,” Caddock said.

The Above the Falls master plan adopted by the Park Board and the City in 2000 calls for continuous parks and trails along the both sides of the river. “This priority is echoed by the RiverFirst vision recently approved by the Park Board,” Caddock said. “The construction of West River Road North and trails between Plymouth and North 22nd Avenue was an early implementation success to come from the Above the Falls plan.”

Sheridan Memorial Park Artist Chosen

Robert Smart of Smart Design Studios has been selected to refine and carry out the artistic vision for the memorials in Sheridan Memorial Park just north of the Broadway Bridge along the east bank of the Mississippi. Living on Grove Street on Nicollet Island for over a decade, “I have been in close proximity to the site and, as a result, have a strong connection to it,” he said in his competitive application. “Daily walks along the river have given me knowledge of the pedestrian life along the river.”

Ten artists or teams applied to work on the memorial art.

Smart’s other public/art commissions of similar scale include a downtown plaza bridge in Milwaukee, a North Shore Chicago installation, “La Souterraine de Couler,” work underway in the Penfield Project in St. Paul, and “Illumifusion” at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Much of his work has included programmable LED lighting, and he has stated that “appropriately lighting the work internally would make the piece a glowing beacon for public recognition of the memorial.”

The call for artists stated, “local veterans have long sought a site along the river for a memorial to remember Minnesotans who have served in the nation’s wars. Over the last five years, along with Sheridan Neighborhood Organization, they have worked tirelessly to raise funds and help develop plans….the circular motif of the memorial dates back to brainstorming sessions in 2007 with the University of Minnesota Design Center,” and the two groups. “At the center of the memorial will be a sculpture created by the selected artist/artist team who will also create the prototype for the ten markers,” nine relating to the wars Minnesotans served in, and one empty of text.

The memorial is to strike a delicate balance between honoring the sacrifices of veterans while communicating desire for peace.

Work on footings for the yet-to-be designed monuments and sculpture should get underway soon.

Deborah Bartels is the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staffer managing the project, and detailed the steps needed before they can move dirt. They received a conditional use permit from the City of Minneapolis to construct within a flood plain. “The city wanted us to add a rain garden,” to clean the stormwater runoff from the east and north. So they’re trying for a Mississippi Watershed Management Organization grant to do that. They’ve been asked to prove that a fuel tank has been removed from the site, a former foundry.

Design consultants from the Howard R. Green firm are finishing construction specifications and then bids will be let for pouring of footings, paving, walls, plantings, and all earth work. Bartels emphasized through the artist selection process that the Sheridan Memorial Park committee wanted the project to be unveiled on Veteran’s Day of this year.

Bartels said eventually the park board and City Community Planning and Economic Development Department want to redevelop all of Water Street as the new edge of the park. They are re-platting the area and seeking abandonment of some railroad tracks. She confirmed that the new trail (above) could “nick the edge” of the memorial, so this summer’s construction will set the stage for that connection.

Smart and Bartels both said a contract is being drafted which they hope can be in place before the Aug. 27 Sheridan Neighborhood Organization meeting.

Editor’s Note: Reporter Margo Ashmore, a Minneapolis Arts Commission member, served on the artist selection panel.