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The Park Board ended up spending more than 5 percent of its entire budget on the Gateway, mostly for police and cleanup. Sound like a blueprint for the Yard?
Even park pioneer Charles Loring predicted Gateway Park would fail, and it did. But that didn’t stop the city from pushing another downtown green space, Pioneer Square, to act as a sort of decorative attachment to the post office.
By 1953, Smith said, cleaning crews picked up 70 bushels of empty wine and whiskey bottles from Gateway, and 53 bushels from Pioneer Square. “Further proof that you can’t just plop green space down in a city and expect it to serve some vague ‘beautifying’ or ‘park’ purpose — even with some dressing up,” Smith writes.
Smith was hoping the Park Board would take on the Yard (which he thinks being adjacent to the jail makes people think of a prison yard) because “they’ve done a pretty good job for 130 years,” but also because there would be some elected accountability.
“I wish those foundations and wealthy individuals would step up and give money to the Park Board,” Smith said.
He realizes, however, those entities are no longer interested in giving up control to a public body. Second best would be a conservancy supported by those who will benefit, such as the Vikings, Wells Fargo and surrounding businesses.
“If the Vikings want a place to gather for their stadium, they should pay for it,” said Smith. “If they want to donate part of that for a truly public park, well, cool.”
“If you want a public park down here, you have to give careful consideration on how you do everything,” Smith said. “The fact that we’re going to play a football game there in two years is not a good reason to hurry. The process drove the product in this case, and that’s never a good way to go.”
Otherwise, Minneapolis is looking at another Gateway Park or Pioneer Square.
“I’m afraid that is all that the Downtown East Park or the Yard is now,” Smith wrote. “And if that is where the discussion remains, it will fail as a park and become an eyesore, a headache or both.”
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