To unveil the final designs for the Mississippi Learning Center planned for St. Paul’s Crosby Farm Park, the city of St. Paul and the Great River Passage Conservancy hosted a celebratory event this week at Watergate Marina.
The goal of the project is to make the Mississippi River more accessible to visitors, providing the space to wade in the water, launch a boat, and from above, hike an elevated walkway that provides a variety of viewpoints of the waterway.
With the vision for the area complete, organizers plan to spend the next six months diving deeper into the details, such as establishing roles, developing ideas for community programming and requesting the funding from the state Legislature necessary to make it all happen.
“It really does get at being able to touch the water, creating a very, very safe space for people to adults and children who like to paddle in the summertime and to walk across in the wintertime,” said Mary deLaittre, executive director of the Great River Passage Conservancy. “Experiencing nature is very important for us.”
The River Learning Center would be owned by the city, with the various tenants leasing space and covering operational expenses.
The overall project, whose cost hasn’t been finalized, is to be funded with public and private resources. The city unsuccessfully sought $20 million in state bonding money during the 2022 legislative session.
Along with the River Learning Center project, the Great River Passage Conservancy is planning for two more major projects along the St. Paul riverfront.
There are proposals for a quarter-mile promenade along the downtown bluffs called the River Balcony and a design to connect the East Side River District, including Pig’s Eye Lake, with the rest of the city.