Grand Forks imagines downtown parks of the future at Empire Arts Center
Dozens of guests packed into the art gallery at the front of Grand Forks' Empire Arts Center on Wednesday to talk big ideas. The meeting, hosted by city officials to help visualize the future of downtown parks and open spaces, was meant to help s...
Dozens of guests packed into the art gallery at the front of Grand Forks' Empire Arts Center on Wednesday to talk big ideas.
The meeting, hosted by city officials to help visualize the future of downtown parks and open spaces, was meant to help steer future development and new amenities for the downtown area, whether the public wanted a new splash park, for example, or a new pedestrian bridge at the Greenway. And on colorful handwritten notes stuck on white posters around the room, they left a trail of thoughts-both big and small.
One such note suggested a statue of Arthur G. Sorlie near the downtown bridge that bears his name; another, murals throughout downtown alleyways; another suggested sprucing up George Lee Park, near the intersection of North Third Street and Second Avenue North and another wanted better "sight lines" into the Greenway from the downtown area.
Guests themselves were talkative and often full of ideas, many of which went beyond the immediate questions city leaders were asking. Jay Kleven, who lives just south of the downtown area, said he'd heard a bright idea about decorating crosswalks to give the downtown and the nearby neighborhoods their own unique feel.
Marcus Wax, a fellow Grand Forks resident, said he feels the downtown area already has what it needs-at this point, it could just use more events.
The meeting was held to help the city chart the course for the future of the downtown parks and open spaces after a December report delivered by a mayoral committee on downtown development. While that report offered a broad set of ideas for the downtown area-from reimagined streetscapes to redeveloping the city's water treatment plant-this first foray, city leaders explained, helps sketch out the city's next steps on just one facet of the area's future.
The parks and open spaces up for discussion on Wednesday evening included downtown pocket parks, Town Square, George Lee Park, the Greenway, Kannowski Park and LaGrave Park. Arbor Park, 15 S. Fourth St., is technically on that list, but given a June referendum on its future-where voters will decide whether it should become home to a five-story condo and retail development or be preserved-has put further questions for its future on hold.
As city staffers get a clearer picture of what downtown parks and open spaces of the future should look like, they're expected to go to the City Council as soon as this summer to review the next steps-after which they could begin putting together more detailed plans on how to make it reality.
"This is just the beginning," said Meredith Richards, the city's deputy community development director.