A park… and a memorial


An upcoming “land dedication” will celebrate two long-awaited projects on one strip of riverfront land: a veterans memorial and a neighborhood park.

On Saturday, Nov. 10, 10 a.m., the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) will dedicate Sheridan Memorial Park. The event will feature a tree planting, a sign unveiling, and speeches by park board, neighborhood and Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) representatives.

The quarter-mile strip of land which is soon to become a park lies just west of the Grain Belt warehouse building at 1300 Water Street NE, and it stretches from the Broadway bridge north to the Burlington Northern railroad tracks. It is the Sheridan neighborhood’s first public park, long sought by members of the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization (SNO) and spearheaded by former SNO president Jenny Fortman and board member Michael Romens.

The veterans’ memorial was in the works even before that; long-time Marshall Terrace resident Ed Karbo said he worked on getting community support for it for at least nine years. It took so long, in fact, that many veterans who supported the project have already died, he added, including his brother and his son.

MPRB staff member Nick Eoloff said that park officials and staff planned the dedication because they wanted to make sure that “Ed, the veterans and the neighborhood get recognition. We want them to know that with park board support, it will go forward.”

He said the park board has received two grants from MWMO for land acquisition ($400,000) and development ($750,000). MPRB also matched a $30,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and will be supplying the labor to create the park. SNO, he said, is raising money for the memorial.

Because Sheridan Memorial Park lies in an area included in the city’s Above the Falls master plan, it is considered a regional park. As such, Eoloff said, it qualifies for funding the park board couldn’t get for a local park.

The veterans memorial will be the main focus of the park, he said. “It will be a fairly formal memorial,” he said, “with a reflecting pond in the middle, an arbor and formal gardens. There will be an area for flag raisings, and trails for bikes and hiking. The park will include a picnic area at the north end, a play area, and an observation platform.”

Park planners expect to start work next season; they will make some improvements using the MWMO money.

At right, the schematic for Sheridan Memorial Park. At the bottom of the graphic is the Broadway bridge as it works its way to street level in Northeast. The Keg House, one of the buildings in the Grain Belt Complex, and its parking lot are at the lower right. The other existing building outside of the new schematic is north and east of 14th Avenue NE and Ramsey Street.

Fortman said the entire park plan will cost between $1 million and $1.2 million. SNO is trying to raise between $500,000 and $600,000 for the memorial, she added, which includes costs of future maintenance.

“So far we have $30,000 in NRP [Neighborhood Revitalization Program] funds and two years’ worth of SNO Ball (an annual SNO fund raising event) money, about $15,000. We have a conceptual drawing that doesn’t have a lot of detail. Once we get more money in place, we’ll have something else drawn up. H.R. Green, which is a development firm out of St. Paul, did the perspective drawing for us pro bono.”

Fortman said SNO’s involvement started in spring, 2005, when First Ward Minneapolis City Council Member Paul Ostrow, who is chair of MWMO, pulled the neighborhood and veterans groups together. “Ed had been trying to build a memorial, and we were in need of a park and trying to pursue that. It was an ambitious project, but it will be a great asset for us.”

At the land dedication, she said, SNO will likely have at least six volunteers helping with the tree planting.

For information on the park, go to www.minneapolisparks. org, or call Dawn Sommers, 612-230-6407, or email her at, dsommers@ minneapolisparks.org.