New Northeast Athletic Field Park (NEAP) improvements are just the latest examples of the vision laid down by the East of the River Park Master Plan. The $1.3 million project, financed by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) Capital Improvement Program and a Hennepin County Environmental Response Fund (ERF) grant is the latest in a number of projects in Northeast Minneapolis’ Park District 1, which includes more than 75,000 residents, with an average annual capital investment of around $46 per capita.
Recent approval of the NEAP concept plan for allows initial playground construction to begin by the first of November, after buried utility lines are marked. The first stage this fall includes site preparation and grading southwest of the waterpark area, and is expected to continue for about six weeks, weather permitting. MPRB project manager Carol HejlStone said the play area’s equipment is aimed at two age groups: 2-5 years and 5-12, with more challenging features for the older children. The play area’s theme is that of an adventure course, and will include shaded seating from the mature trees in the area. The surfaces will be engineered wood fiber and PIP rubber. The overall design allows for expansion with future funding.
HejlStone said that the original plans were conceived as one project, but bids came in higher than anticipated, requiring some design changes. The cost of the play area itself is around $200,000. There was some soil contamination near the softball fields that posed no risk to park users but corrections were needed for proper stormwater management.
Like all the park’s facilities, the play area will be open to all visitors, but should get plenty of use by students from Yinghua Academy, which sits on the north end of the park. MPRB has a history of collaboration with Minneapolis Public Schools for developing properties together. In 1965 the Minneapolis school board acquired two acres of Northeast Park to build Putnam School next to the park. Three years later, the Park Board built a multi-purpose building attached to the school, calling it the Northeast Recreation Center. Putnam School was closed in 2006, and the property was sold to Yinghua that year. In 2012, the recreation center portion of the building was demolished for the school’s expansion.
Next spring will see the installation of play equipment and surfacing, along with upgrades to the athletic fields along Fillmore Street, stormwater management work, and the relocation and expansion of the tennis courts. There will also be a new 30,000-sq.-ft. skate park at the park’s southeast corner.
Below: Playground concept (Graphic provided by MPRB)