Riverview Park project timetable pushed back

Redevelopment of Riverview Park in Coon Rapids won’t be completed this year as originally planned.

The park is scheduled to undergo a $1.4 million facelift with proceeds from the $17.2 million park bond issue approved by voters in November 2013. In February, the Coon Rapids City Council had approved a preliminary design concept and authorized a consultant services agreement with WSB & Associates for final design work, bidding and construction management.

Riverview was chosen as the first park for reconstruction with bond issue money because a master plan for the project was prepared in early 2011, but was put on hold because of lack of funds, providing the impetus for the park bond referendum last year.

The planned improvements are those that were proposed in 2011 apart from a few tweaks made following a neighborhood meeting in January.

But the council was told at a work session March 25 on park and recreation items that the final design and engineering is a four-month process – WSB is also working on other parks and trails projects this year including a complete redesign of Sand Creek Park – so that bidding would not take place until July at the earliest with construction starting in August.

According to Public Works Director Tim Himmer, a two-phase project is now planned with grading and removal of existing structures to take place this year and the main construction work scheduled to start in the spring of 2015.

Riverview Park will be closed during construction except for the Coon Rapids National Little League fields. The National Little League owns the property in the park on which its fields are located and the city will be working with the baseball organization to ensure that its 2015 season, which runs from early May into July, continues uninterrupted during the park reconstruction, said City Manager Steve Gatlin.

Mayor Tim Howe was disappointed the Riverview project could not be completed this year, he said. “But it is what it is,” Howe said. “We want to do it right.”

The council also received an update on trail projects that are planned to begin this year with bond issue proceeds.

According to Himmer, the city is trying to leverage bond dollars for these projects with funding and assistance from other sources, such as state grants.

“The grants will give us more flexibility,” Himmer said.

For example, the city has received a state grant for a trail through Wilderness Park to link Main Street with 121st Avenue and that project is on the 2014 schedule.

The city with the assistance of Anoka County has applied for a grant to construct a trail on 85th Avenue NW from the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks to East River Road and across to Kennedy Park, eventually linking with the Mississippi River Regional Trail.

If that grant is not approved – the city has been unsuccessful in the past seeking state dollars for this trail – then other funding alternatives will be considered for this project, Gatlin said.

The city is also working with Anoka County on two other projects – repairing the existing trail on the south side of Coon Rapids Boulevard, a county state aid highway, from Hanson Boulevard to the west city limits, which in several areas is in rough shape, as well as providing a trail link north of Main Street, where the Wilderness Park trail will end, to the county’s Bunker Hills Regional Park.