Brainerd council pledges matching funds for riverfront park grants

Riverfront project.JPG
A draft concept plan from Brainerd's Riverfront Committee shows proposed plans for Mississippi Landing, a riverfront park along East River Road.

With conceptual designs nearly finalized, the city of Brainerd is now in search of funds to help make the proposed Mississippi Landing Park a reality.

The project began back in 2015 with a $100,000 grant from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, leading to the creation of the Riverfront Committee, a group of individuals dedicated to transforming the city’s downtown riverfront area.

The park is set to take shape along East River Road on the hillside below the North Star Apartments.

Short Elliott Hendrickson conducted a feasibility study and helped with the designs, while a technical grant from the National Park Service provided assistance with community engagement and more conceptual designs. Designs so far include trails, educational nature centers, a kayak launch and a small amphitheatre. Final plans will go before the parks board this week and the city council next month.

In the meantime, the group is working to secure funding to bring the project to fruition. To help in those efforts, the Brainerd City Council authorized city staff Tuesday, Feb. 18, to submit two grant applications to the Department of Natural Resources.


The Federal Recreational Trail grant provides up to $150,000 for the development or rehabilitation of motorized and non-motorized trail projects to minimize the impact to the natural environment.

The Local Trail Connection grant also provides up to $150,000 for the acquisition and development of trail facilities with an emphasis on connecting where people live to public resources.

Both grants require a 25% local match, which amounts to $37,500. The same match, though, can be used for both grants. When budgeting for 2020, the city council agreed to put $100,000 in the capital fund to use for matching grants for the riverfront project. With the matching funds thus secured, the council authorized the riverfront committee to apply for both grants.

“We haven’t heard too often of entities that have gotten both grants. A lot of the time it’s either or,” Community Development Director David Chanski said. “But that’s why we would like to submit for both, is so it increases the possibility of getting one.”

The rest of the $100,000 budgeted will be used as a match for a Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources grant application in May, as well as any other grant opportunities that might come up.

The riverfront committee plans to present the final designs for the park to the city council next month.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

A draft concept plan from Brainerd's Riverfront Committee shows proposed plans for Mississippi Landing, a riverfront park along East River Road.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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