Join the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) in celebrating the dedication of two newly renovated parks along the Mississippi riverfront on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. at B.F. Nelson Park. The dedication's activities include free voyageur canoe rides along the river by Wilderness Inquiry and face painting and games for kids.
Renovations at B.F. Nelson Park, located at 434 Main St., and neighboring Boom Island Park were recently completed, enhancing and adding features to the two popular parks linked along the Mississippi River.
At B.F. Nelson Park, changes began with the movement of Pioneers Monument to the park in September 2010. The statue, originally unveiled in 1936, honors the courage and hard work of early settlers to the area. Since the monument’s arrival, improvements at B.F. Nelson include the addition of a plaza, parking lot, sidewalks and trails, lighting and various landscaping throughout the park. Improvements at Boom Island Park include the addition of tons of new soil, irrigation and turf to create a large, central green space, trails that connect to B.F. Nelson Park, repairs to sections of the plaza, parking lot resurfacing and a new canoe launch. Boom Island features spectacular views of the river and downtown skyline.
“After years of effort by the Park Board and the St. Anthony West Neighborhood, these two parks and their much-anticipated improvements will provide fantastic access to the river by boaters, hikers, picnickers and wildlife enthusiasts,” said Liz Wielinski, MPRB First Park District Commissioner. “The Park Board appreciates the generous contributions from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, Parks and Trails Legacy Fund by way of the legislature, Metropolitan Council, St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization and the City of Minneapolis. These important riverfront parks will serve the community and region for generations to come.”
Funding for the B.F. Nelson and Boom Island parks improvement projects included a grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization in the amount of $775,000, $887,000 in Parks and Trails Legacy funds and $2 million in Metropolitan Council bonds. Funds for the movement and restoration of Pioneers Monument were provided by the St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization in the amount of $25,000 and by the City of Minneapolis Art in Public Places program at $50,000.
About B.F. Nelson Park
Acquired by the MPRB in 1987, the 12-acre B.F. Nelson Park is nestled between Boom Island and Nicollet Island along northeast Minneapolis’ historic Main Street. The park, once the site of the B. F. Nelson Manufacturing Company, is named after B.F. Nelson, who served on the City Council, Minneapolis School Board and as a Park Board Commissioner. When the property was acquired, it was part of a long-term plan to develop parkland along the Mississippi river in the Central Minneapolis Riverfront area. A master plan was developed with the aid of a Citizen Advisory Committee and approved by the MPRB in 1993. The plan was reaffirmed in 1998 and 2007 after the board sought additional input from the community. Lack of funding delayed development of the property until the recent improvements made beginning in 2010.
About Boom Island Park
Located north of Nicollet Island, the land for Boom Island was acquired by the MPRB in 1982. Although no longer an island, the park is named after its former function and defining features during the city’s lumber industry days – the booms, long beams extended from derricks on the island, which were used to sort logs as they floated downstream to area saw mills. The buildup of silt and sawdust over time connected the island to the river’s east bank. The park’s signature lighthouse is a nod to the former island’s role in navigating the waters above St. Anthony Falls. The park was designed by the late Ted Wirth, grandson of former park superintendent Theodore Wirth, and completed in 1988. Recreational amenities include a boat launch and small marina, promenades, a totlot playground, and picnic areas including three reservable picnic shelters. The park also serves as a picturesque site for weddings and as the departure point for public and private cruises along the scenic Mississippi River aboard the Minneapolis Queen.