Parkway repair moving forward

Barry Lytton

A $6 million plan to repair the area of land near a University of Minnesota medical building damaged by last summer’s mudslide received more than 1,000 responses in an online survey before it closed Friday.
The Mineapolis Park and Recreation Board’s plan to build concrete retention walls was received with generally positive feedback, the survey results said, but plenty of respondents harbor concern over the project’s extended timeline.
“We will look closely at the replies, and if there are suggestions that can be easily incorporated and are maintainable by the park board, we’ll be including those,” said Deborah Bartels, a project manager for the park board. 
The concrete walls will be glazed with anti-graffiti coating  to support the area of West River Parkway and keep it from shifting. Officials will also add a variety of plants to the area to help quell erosion.
The 1,019 survey participants answered five questions, including one section for additional comments, about how they interact with the area near the slope and contributed hundereds of comments.
Many of the comments focused on how quickly area residents want the construction to get underway.
“Fine. Just get the job done as soon as possible!” one comment said.
Heavy rainfall triggered the mudslide in late June, prompting the park board to close a one mile stretch of West River Parkway. The 100-day construction period won’t start until midsummer, Bartels said. 
Maintaining the area has so far cost the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state’s disaster relief branch more than $1 million.
Other comments centered on the walls’ aesthetics, which the park board will take into consideration for the project, Bartels said.
She said this survey is one of the many steps the park board and the University of Minnesota, which is partnering with the board on the project, are taking to get the parkway reopened. 
A University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview building sits atop the mudslide’s site. Medical center spokeswoman Jennifer Amundson said the hospital is grateful to be included in the project and officials are looking forward to the work beginning this summer.
Bartels said she is looking forward to the completion of the project, when commuters, bicyclists and runners can use the parkway and the  surrounding area again.
“I think the beauty of that whole area is the river and the gorge and all the vegetated hillsides, and that’s what we want people to notice,” she said.