Federal grant to be used for Coon Rapids’ port master plan update

Armed with a federal grant, the city of Coon Rapids is planning to update one of its port master plans on Coon Rapids Boulevard.

A decade ago, the Coon Rapids City Council approved a Coon Rapids Boulevard framework plan to guide development and redevelopment along the boulevard.

As part of the framework plan, four ports were created on the boulevard where redevelopment and redevelopment was expected to take place and master plans prepared and approved by the council for each port.

One of those ports is Port Campus Square, which generally encompasses an area north and south of the boulevard from Crooked Lake to Mississippi boulevards.

And that is where the master plan update will occur, although Anoka-Ramsey Community College on Mississippi Boulevard will be added to the mix.

The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which comprises the city council, has approved taking $9,110 to supplement the federal grant money, a portion of which will be used for the master plan update.

According to Matt Brown, city community development specialist, the city received as $400,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010 to do environmental assessment work at various “brownfield” sites in the city, the grant being good through 2013.

The city hired Bonestroo Engineering, now Stantec, to administer the funds and complete some of the work, Brown said.

In addition to the environmental assessment work, the grant will cover the costs of land use planning and market analysis in the Port Campus Square and Port Riverwalk redevelopment area, he said.

The cost of the planning process for each port was estimated at $50,000 with the grant covering that amount, Brown said.

The $9,110 in HRA funds will enable the project scope to be broadened beyond the potential “brownfield” areas covered by the grant to include such items as public connections to the Mississippi River and potential partnerships between the city and college regarding shared facilities and land swaps, he said.

“The additional funds allow for expansion of the study area to include properties owned by and adjacent to Anoka-Ramsey Community College to the west of Port Campus Square,” Brown said.

“Staff believes that expanding the study area will result in a significantly better plan.”

While the Port Campus Square master plan was updated in 2010 with the construction of the Coon Rapids Ice Center, additional planning and market analysis are needed to address disposal of publicly-owned land, anticipate future redevelopment of the Family Center Mall and integrate plans of the college into the broader area, according to Brown.

Staff has formed a steering committee to provide input during the process.

The committee comprises two members of the Coon Rapids Planning Commission, two property owners in Port Campus Square, a neighborhood resident and representatives from the college.

A timetable for the master plan update was presented to the HRA by Brown.

The first steering committee meeting has been scheduled for this month, with further meetings planned in May and June.

In June, the planning commission will host an open house with business owners/property owners/residents of surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the steering committee, invited to view and comment on concept plans.

The updated plan is expected to be completed in July and be considered by the planning commission at its August meeting before going to the council for action in September.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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