Concepts for welcoming entrance to Greenway and downtown Grand Forks get public feedback
Greenway Specialist Kim Greendahl said it was exciting to see the concepts and ideas presented to the public
GRAND FORKS – Visions for cosmetic updates to the welcoming entrance of the Greenway , along with a portion of the Greenway downtown are starting to get closer to becoming a reality as a survey asking for public input just recently wrapped up.
Respondents were able to vote on four designs for an updated welcoming entrance to the Greenway and downtown Grand Forks. Respondents were also provided two concepts that included an array of added features to a section of the Greenway between University Avenue and the railroad tracks just past Kittson Avenue.
Greenway Specialist Kim Greendahl said it was exciting to see the concepts and ideas presented to the public.
“Just to see the possibilities, what the consultant came up with, but also what residents came up with for ideas, it’s kind of exciting to rethink it,” Greendahl said.
Some of those ideas include having an amphitheater around the Flood Obelisk and adding a pollinator garden. The two concepts also had unique features as one entailed a dog park on one end and a pickleball court on the other end. The second concept featured an adventure play area for kids and garden spaces.
Respondents were able to choose whether they liked or disliked each idea, and were able to leave comments.
Greendahl said the interactiveness of the survey helped give people a better vision of what that portion of the Greenway could look like.
“That's always one of the goals, at least in my office, is giving people something to consider first. That always seems to get ideas going,” she said. “And I know there were a few of the features that had quite a bit of dialogue going on between people.”
The overall idea of the cosmetic updates is to consider how to connect the Greenway to downtown. Greendahl said the concepts that have been created have met that goal as both concepts have a pedestrian-focused design such as considering walkways and one concept proposed having a pedestrian bridge to give pedestrians the opportunity to avoid traffic along DeMers Avenue.
Greendahl said the added features won’t only be beneficial to those who already use the Greenway, but will also attract others to use the space as well. Right now Greendahl said the portion of Greenway along downtown has generally been used as a pass-through.
“We’ve kind of treated it a little bit like a pass-through. People just go by it,” she said. “Whereas when you look at Lincoln Drive Park... All of those parks along the Greenway system. Those encourage you to stop and we just didn’t have anything downtown really.”
The concepts not only merge ideas from the Downtown Action Plan, which was completed back in 2019, but ideas also factor in the history of the floodwall and downtown Grand Forks. Greendahl said she’s been working with the director of the Historical Society to incorporate the history “not just the last 25 years, but going back even further.”
“When you realize that this is really where it all starts,” Greendahl said. “This is the heart of where Grand Forks and East Grand Forks start so we really should highlight that.”
Throughout the conceptual design process there has been a heavy focus on ensuring nothing will impede on the flood protection system including the proposed ideas for the welcoming entrance.
Right now the survey responses are being compiled by RDG Planning and Design, which is the consultant that worked on the designs. Greendahl said the consultant will provide the raw data of what people liked to give more of a direction moving forward.
The consultants will also provide what projects will be able to be completed right away, what projects are within a mid-range timeline of completion and what projects fall within a long-range timeline. Project costs will be provided at that time as funding will come from the Greenway budget.
While the two concepts had their own unique features, Greendahl said the various ideas can be combined into one concept depending on what people liked from both.
“It wasn’t just ‘I like option one, not option two,’" she said. "It’s definitely an a la carte kind of project."
Overall, Greendahl said she's excited for the updates to showcase downtown.
“I think it’s the opportunity to do something really good to showcase our downtown and our history,” Greendahl said. “And I’m excited for it."