Graco Park Green Infrastructure
A new riverfront park in Minneapolis will feature enhanced habitat and stormwater features as well as a sidewalk snowmelt system to help protect the Mississippi River.
Type: Capital Improvement Project
MWMO Funding: $480,000
Partners: Graco Foundation; Metropolitan Council; Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Contractors: Aune Fernandez Landscape Architects; Barr Engineering; Snow Kreilich Architects
Shawn James, AICP
Projects and Planning Specialist
Email Shawn James, AICP
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is developing Graco Park, a new riverfront park in Minneapolis. A $480,000 MWMO grant will provide for green infrastructure enhancements at the park, including native habitat restoration, stormwater infiltration basins, a low-maintenance pollinator lawn, and a heated sidewalk and plaza snowmelt system. When completed, the park will provide improved public access to the Mississippi River and expand on habitat improvements at Hall’s Island, which the MWMO helped the MPRB restore in 2017.
Graco Park (formerly known as the Scherer Site) sits between Boom Island and Hall’s Island along the shore of the Mississippi River in Northeast Minneapolis. Under the approved MPRB concept plan, more than 70 percent of Graco Park’s land area will be dedicated to native habitat restoration, including a variety of more than 250 deciduous and coniferous trees, a mix of native prairie perennial plants, a pollinator lawn, and other habitat features. Park amenities will include improved river access, a new multi-purpose community building, and a realigned bike and pedestrian trail with a new tunnel connection under the Plymouth Avenue Bridge.
The park’s new green stormwater infrastructure will work hand-in-hand with its restored habitat features. A series of interconnected stormwater basins, planted with native vegetation and scattered throughout the site, will form a stormwater treatment train designed to capture and treat up to 1.5 inches of runoff from impervious surfaces. These features are projected to capture 99 percent of the park’s stormwater runoff and reduce phosphorus loading to the river by 94 percent compared to existing conditions.
The heated sidewalk and plaza snowmelt system will be installed in high foot-traffic areas around the new multi-use community building and leading to the parking area, reducing the need for salt and sand to keep paved areas safe for pedestrian traffic in the winter. The system will use a renewable energy source (geothermal heat) that will also heat the new community building.
The project will expand on the native habitat restoration work completed at nearby Hall’s Island, which the MWMO supported with a $1.5 million grant in 2017. The approved Graco Park concept plan helps to implement the goals and vision of the RiverFirst Initiative (2012) and the Above the Falls Regional Park Master Plan (2019).
Construction of MWMO enhancements is anticipated to start the summer of 2023, and completed by the end of 2024. More information can be found at the MPRB’s project website.