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An overhead view of the Mississippi Gateway Park project area.

Brooklyn Park’s City Council discussed the cooperative agreement planned to govern the operations of Mississippi Gateway Park, a joint venture between Three Rivers Park District and Brooklyn Park.

At its Sept. 3 meeting, the majority of the council did not speak against moving the project forward.

The Mississippi Gateway Park project, formerly called the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, is planned for reconstruction along with Brooklyn Park’s Environmental Nature Area, which sits across West River Road from the existing park. In the new planning efforts, the two parks are planned to operate as a single, continuous park.

The council has previously approved the joint master plan for the two park areas in January 2018.

The project as a whole is expected to cost an estimated $30 million. Of that cost, Brooklyn Park would be expected to pay $4.2 million in development costs.

Broadly, the park is designed so that visitors will experience increasing degrees of wilderness the deeper they get in the park. The river side of the park would feature both first-come, first-serve and reservable picnic shelters, classroom space, a mini-version of the river with locks and dams, observation decks, and additional trails, among other amenities. In the environmental nature area, an archery range, dog off-leash area, a picnic area, trails with an underpass below West River Road and a maintenance building are planned.

In the agreement, both Brooklyn Park and Three Rivers will retain their ownership of their land.

Funding for Brooklyn Park’s portion would come from the city’s open space land acquisition and development fund. Three Rivers would rely on several different funding sources, including state bonding, as well as grants and private funding. This is the first time that Three Rivers will make a standalone state bonding request, rather than requesting bonding as part of the Metropolitan Council’s bond request.

Both organizations would be responsible to contribute to the capital replacement costs of the project.

Mayor Jeff Lunde spoke in favor of the project, saying that the park will be a regional draw, and that it is important to introduce the city’s youth to the woods and wilderness. The project may have better prospects for bonding since it is a collaborative effort between multiple agencies, he said.

Councilmember Mark Mata said he does not believe that the maintenance facility should be built on Brooklyn Park’s side of the project, and he questioned the use of the city’s open space land acquisition and development fund to pay for this project.

The agreement will be brought before the council Monday, Sept. 23 and will be considered by the Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners Thursday, Oct. 17.

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