Public Gathering Space
The Longfellow Community Council and Midtown Greenway Coalition have been working for over 10 years on native plantings plans for this area. Arbor Day plantings organized by the Midtown Community Works Partnership, the Midtown Greenway Coalition and other agencies and hundreds of volunteers took place here in 2008, 2009, and 2011 to put in over 1,000 trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, Xcel's proposed Hiawatha project, if approved as expected, will place an electrical substation on the portion of the planted areas that is east of Hiawatha Avenue and south of the Greenway trails.
The MNDOT owned land east of Hiawatha poses a opportunity to bind the middle and eastern Greenway trail segments together with a wonderful public open space that will serve trail goers, nearby businesses, residents of anticipated transit orientated developments in the area, and the surrounding neighborhoods of Greater Longfellow and Seward. In gathering input, both neighborhoods were approached along with Little Earth for United Tribes. The Midtown Greenway Phase III (Hiawatha Ave. to the River) landscape plan was also reviewed. As a result of this input, intern Jeff Liljegren created a medicine-wheel-inspired design that makes reference to the nearby indigenous cultures and provides a large venue public space that can be enjoyed and shared by all passers by. This circular theme has been carried out with trees surrounding a new bench that was recently installed with funds provided by the Twin Cities Bicycling Club. The Hiawatha trail has provided a trade route for many years in this region with its genesis established by the area’s indigenous cultures. The route from St. Anthony Falls to Minnehaha Creek, where trade took place regularly, continues today as an important local transit and bike route for many inhabitants of the surrounding neighborhoods.