New project will improve conditions at Father Hennepin Bluff Park

$1 million project aims to improve park circulation and connections to surrounding neighborhood

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) just launched a new project aimed at improving park conditions in Father Hennepin Bluff Park.

Father Hennepin Bluff Park contains the land next to the east end of Stone Arch Bridge. It’s split into two distinct sections: An upper section that contains a band shell, paths and picnic facilities; and a lower section that has stairs and natural trails leading to Hennepin Island. This project is focused on the upper section.

Father Hennepin Bluff Park is part of Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, which had a new master plan approved in 2016. According to the master plan, the overall goals for the upper section of Father Hennepin Bluff Park are to improve circulation and park function while opening up the park edge to the street and surrounding neighborhoods.

A lot of ideas to achieve those goals are outlined in the master plan:

  • Realign pedestrian and bicycle trails to meander close to the bluff edge in a manner that does not interfere with the band shell function.
  • Build a new band shell away from the sensitive bluff edge in a manner that still maintains the open space of the park.
  • Clarify and emphasize pedestrian and bike circulation at the junction of the Stone Arch Bridge and 6th Avenue SE in a manner that reinforces the historic connection to the rail alignment. This could also include:
    • Provide a signature entry experience.
    • Extend 6th Avenue Greenway design and create a programmable convertible street between the 6th Avenue and Main Street intersection.
    • Interpret the historic railroad alignment to promote wayfinding.
    • Eliminate the utilitarian experience of the existing cul-de-sac.
    • Provide a safe, accessible surface for bicyclists and pedestrians while still maintaining the historic cobblestones.
  • Add a restroom facility and/or visitor orientation center.
  • Remove berming along the Main Street edge where appropriate.
  • Manage deciduous trees and remove invasive or degraded vegetation to maintain an overstory canopy in a manner that frames views to the river.

View the Father Hennepin Bluff Park Master Plan [PDF] or visit the project page ( for full details.

What do you think?

The MPRB dedicated $1 million for this project and it needs public input to help prioritize which of those improvements will be built in 2019. There are five upcoming focus groups to weigh in. If you can’t make any of the focus groups, an online survey is linked below.

Take Online Survey

Student Input Meeting

Date: Thursday Jan. 24, 2019
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: First Congregational Church
Address: 500 8th Ave. SE
Topic: Students share ideas and input. Hot soup provided.

Native American Listening Session and Walk

Date: Saturday Jan. 26, 2019
Time: 1-3 pm
Location: Father Hennepin Bluff Park
Address: 420 Main St. SE
Topic: More details coming soon.

Environment and Sustainable Landscapes Meeting

Date: Tuesday Jan. 29, 2019
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Pillsbury A Mill
Address: 315 SE Main St.
Topic: Give ideas on environmental improvements for the park. Warm beverages and cookies provided.

Biking and Walking Meeting

Date: Saturday Feb. 2, 2019
Time: 10-11 am
Location: Pillsbury A Mill
Address: 315 SE Main St.
Topic: Meeting begins at Pillsbury A Mill, followed by short walk around park to observe biking and walking activity and brainstorm improvements. Refreshments provided.

Neighboring Residents Meeting

Date: Saturday Feb. 2, 2019
Time: 11 am-noon
Location: Pillsbury A Mill
Address: 315 SE Main St.
Topic: Meeting for residents who live near Father Hennepin Bluff Park to provide ideas on changes and improvements they would like to see. Co-hosted by Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association. Refreshments provided.

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