The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on Tuesday announced a $6.7 million construction project to restore Hall's Island starting next month.
The island on the Mississippi River in northeast Minneapolis disappeared in 1966 when a lumber business dredged it to accommodate an expansion. The park board bought the land in 2010 for $7.7 million.
The restoration will include natural habitat on the island, said park board superintendent Jayne Miller. There also will be a 3,000-foot-long channel for kayaking and boating between the island and the river bank, she said.
"For residents of north and northeast Minneapolis, that's really important because we don't have the bodies of water in those sections of the city. People have been cut off from the river," Miller said. "So just providing great destination parks and access to water is really important."
Canoeing and kayaking will be available in the spring when construction is completed. People won't be allowed on the island for a year so new plants can grow.
The restoration is a move to repair the ecosystem damaged during an industrial past and make the Upper Riverfront accessible said Stephanie Johnson, of the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.
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"It's bringing the benefits of nature back into the city, to the residents of north and northeast Minneapolis," Johnson said, "the benefits of cleaner water, cleaner air, healthier and more diverse plant communities — bringing that all back to the city of Minneapolis.
The park board says the project will provide a safe stopover for birds migrating along the Mississippi flyway, and improve mussel habitat in that stretch of the river.
According to the park board, former city of Minneapolis Health officer Dr. Pearl Hall acquired the deed to the original island in 1902 after years of legal wrangling over its ownership.
He then donated the island to the city. Three years later he was thwarted in a plan to build a garbage burner on the island. A small bath house went up instead.