Becoming Mississippi Gateway Regional Park

From community input and a partnership between Three Rivers and Brooklyn Park, the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area are becoming one. 

Mississippi Gateway Regional Park will become a year-round connection for all people to celebrate the Mississippi River. 

Nearer to the Coon Rapids Dam and the new Mississippi Gateway Center, the park will focus on the river and active recreation. Moving away from the dam, the park will become more wild with field learning stations for nature exploration.

Three Rivers and Brooklyn Park will work together, and construction will occur as funds become available.

Master Plan

Three Rivers Park District and Brooklyn Park collaborated to develop a master plan for Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area. The two parks naturally function as one larger natural resource-based park unit located at Coon Rapids Dam on the Mississippi River. To celebrate its location on one of our Nation’s greatest natural treasures, the master plan calls for renaming the park Mississippi Gateway Regional Park.

The master plan envisions the park as a place for people to see, touch, hear and smell the River. In light of this, the Vision Statement is:

A gateway for everyone to connect with the Mississippi River and its dynamic environment.

Key goals of the plan include:

  • Be welcoming and engaging to everyone
  • Celebrate the River as the heart of the park
  • Introduce people to nature and outdoor recreation
  • Provide activity and purpose year-round

Key features of the plan include a new Mississippi Gateway Center, Nature’s Highline (elevated tree canopy walkway), nature play areas, Mini-Mississippi Play and Education Feature, field learning labs, South Pond Learning Lab, nature interpretation nodes, and improved trails, fishing, picnicking, non-motorized boat launch, archery, off-leash dog area, natural areas and more!

FAQs

Why are there parks on both sides of the river with the same name?

Originally, the parks on both sides of the river were owned and operated by Hennepin Parks (now Three Rivers Park District). The dam and the surrounding land were acquired by the Park District in 1969 from Northern States Power Co. so that the Park District could have a park on the Mississippi River. The parkland on the east side of the river is located in Anoka County.

Anoka County Parks and Recreation has operated the park on the east side of the river since 1994, initially leasing the land from Three Rivers and ultimately purchasing the land in 2011.

Are the parks on both sides of the river changing their name?

No, only the park on the west (Hennepin County) side of the river will change its name. 

The park operated by Anoka County, on the east side of the river, will maintain the name Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.

Which facilities are affected by the name change?

The Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners has approved a name change for Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park owned and operated by Three Rivers Park District. This means that the park located on the west side of the Mississippi River in the City of Brooklyn Park will have a new name. The Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area also will become part of Mississippi Gateway Regional Park, and signs at the Nature Area will reflect that.

The dam itself is unaffected by the name change.

What will be the new name?

Mississippi Gateway Regional Park.

Why is the name changing?

Because the new park is a partnership between Three Rivers Park District and the City of Brooklyn Park, a new name signifies the joint effort. The project isn’t just a remodel or enhancement; it’s truly the creation of a new park — and a new name reflects that.

Why not just continue calling the new park Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park?

Unfortunately, Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park causes confusion for guests visiting the park for the first time. Because there are two parks with the same name operated by two different agencies, staff have heard from many park guests who traveled to the wrong Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. Good customer service means helping to reduce confusion for the public whenever possible, and changing the park’s name helps to achieve that aim.

How and why was Mississippi Gateway chosen as the name?

The Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners reviewed approximately 30 possible names for the park and narrowed the list to three finalists. Each of the finalists included “Mississippi” to note the park’s place on the river. The public was given the opportunity to vote for their favorite among the three finalists through an online poll. Mississippi Gateway was the overwhelming favorite among those who voted.

How much will the name change roll out cost?

With a phased-in implementation approach, the Park District anticipates that the name change costs will be minimal.

What’s the timeline for construction at the park and rollout of the new name?

  • 2018 — The park will still be identified as Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, but materials will note that the park is “Becoming Mississippi Gateway Regional Park.”
  • 2019 — Phase 1 construction — replacing the parking lots and paved surfaces near the Visitor Center and Dam.
  • 2020 — Phase 2 construction is anticipated to begin. 

Once construction is complete, Mississippi Gateway Regional Park will be fully in place as the park’s name.

What services at the park will be impacted during construction?

Service to the public is not expected to be reduced during construction. We anticipate that summer camps and family programming will still take place. Although intermittent closures may occur, the Visitor Center and walkway across Coon Rapids Dam are expected to remain open during the project. 

What is the vision for the new park?

The vision for the park is that it becomes a gateway for everyone to connect with the Mississippi River and its dynamic environment. Mississippi Gateway Regional Park will  celebrate the Mississippi River as the heart of the park, introduce people to nature and outdoor recreation, provide activity and purpose year-round, and be welcoming and engaging to everyone.

Where can I find updates?
Visit this page for project updates.

Learn More

Read the full plan:

  • Part 1: Executive Summary, Title - Table of Contents, Section 1: Partnership, Section 2: Introduction, Section 3: Context
  • Part 2: Section 4: Input, Section 5: Summary, Section 6: Design Guidance
  • Part 3: Section 7: Research, Section 8: Operations and Maintenance, Section 9: Implementation, Appendices

View the plan renderings:

Questions

Inquiries may be submitted to:

Email:                  MissGatewayMP@threeriversparks.org  
US Mail:              Three Rivers Park District 
                            C/O Kelly Grissman, Director of Planning
                            3000 Xenium Lane North
                            Plymouth, MN 55441