Upper Minnehaha Creek Corridor
- Monday, July 13, 2009
- 6:30 p.m.
- City Council meeting: City Council Chambers
- Review of master plan for the Minnetonka Mills Park
- Wednesday, June 3, 2009
- 7 p.m.
- Minnetonka Park Board meeting: City Council Chambers
- Review of refined master plan for the Minnetonka Mills Park
- Wednesday, April 2, 2008
- Tuesday, March 25, 2008
- Thursday, February 21, 2008
Implementing a shared vision
In September 2007, the Minnetonka City Council and Park Board, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board, Three Rivers Park District Board and Hennepin County’s area commissioner joined together in an historic meeting to discuss a partnership to implement a shared vision for Minnehaha Creek.
A Shared Vision
The Upper Minnehaha Creek Corridor extends from the creek headwaters at Gray’s Bay for six miles through the city of Minnetonka, encompassing nearly one-third of the creek’s length. Upper Minnehaha Creek is unique in many ways. Most notably, about 85 percent of the adjoining land is in the public realm—either publicly owned or controlled. This creates an extraordinary opportunity to forge a collaborative partnership to translate a shared vision for the creek into reality.
The Upper Minnehaha Creek is envisioned in several complementary ways. It is, and will become, an even more valued, natural preserve, recreational and educational waterway, network of walking and biking trails, and scenic parkway through the historic Minnetonka Mills District.
Minnehaha Creek celebrates much of what Minnetonka is—a community that deeply values its natural environment.
A policy steering committee, including representatives from the four partners, is guiding the effort to translate this shared vision into specific projects and programs. As planning progresses, numerous opportunities will be available for public input and involvement. The Upper Minnehaha Creek Corridor page will provide updated information.
Some creek corridor improvements are already underway, and many more are in the works. Although planning is just beginning, initial ideas include the following.
- The Upper Minnehaha Creek Corridor is a valuable natural preserve. The city of Minnetonka and others have already accomplished a great deal of preservation and restoration throughout the corridor, including buckthorn removal and ecological improvements. Future projects will restore native plant, wildlife and ecological zones. Best practices will also be followed to achieve water management goals for watershed, stormwater drainage, bank stabilization and creek flow.
- The creek corridor is a waterway that can offer exceptional recreational and educational experiences for people of all ages. The new Headwaters Park at Gray’s Bay, recently developed by the city and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, includes a new canoe landing, interpretive exhibit, shoreland restoration and boardwalk. The city also has invested heavily in improvements to its Civic Center campus bordering the creek, including a new canoe landing.
- Existing landings will be upgraded, and new canoe landings and launches developed to improve access and providing floating interpretive experiences throughout the corridor. The Upper Minnehaha Creek Corridor offers a unique “boundary waters” experience, and a canoe/kayak rental and shuttle service is being considered to make that opportunity more readily available to all.
- The creek corridor will also incorporate new pedestrian and bike trails to connect users with the extensive existing network of local and regional pathways, and many creek and park amenities. As one recent example, a new boardwalk was built between the Civic Center and Jidana Park, which includes new facilities for summer youth programs. Three Rivers Park District recently installed new wayfinding signs and informational kiosks on its Lake Minnetonka Trail, which runs along Minnetonka Boulevard.
- New trails are being planned to provide links with the existing network, and multiple places for “trailhead” parking will be available throughout the corridor. The city recently acquired private properties between the Big Willow playfields and historic Minnetonka Mills District, and funding has been reserved to develop trails to link creek corridor activities with the city’s loop trail system and Three Rivers Park District’s regional trail.
- The historic Minnetonka Mills District will be recognized as the special area it has always been for the community. A new park is planned on both sides of the creek in the area between I-494 and Burwell House. The city has acquired four residential properties in the area, and has reserved funding to develop the new park, which is expected to incorporate unique botanical and art features, including those reflective of the historical nature of the area, ranging from early American Indian trails to milling operations.
- Guidelines will be developed to encourage future public-private partnerships in the commercial area east of Burwell House. Any renewal of this area will have to be compatible with the overall vision for the corridor, both in scale and use. An example of a recent investment is the gazebo built in partnership with St. David’s School.
- A special interpretive center is also being considered somewhere near the Minnetonka Mills District to provide opportunities for school, nature and other groups to connect with the creek. The center would likely be a partnership of various parties, and experiential programs would be provided throughout the Upper Minnehaha Creek Corridor.
- A redesigned Minnetonka Boulevard Parkway is also being considered for Minnetonka Boulevard, between the Civic Center and Big Willow Park. This portion of the Upper Minnehaha Creek Corridor provides a distinct opportunity to integrate roadway, waterway and trails systems, so that drivers, bikers, walkers and paddlers can collectively and compatibly experience all that is good about the creek.