(Land commissioners and attorneys walk the easement the Park Board was granted at Graco.)

After a hiatus of more than half a year, the process has begun for determining how much Minneapolis park commissioners owe Graco for a narrow strip of land that lies between the company's huge factory and the Mississippi River.

Court-appointed land commissioners who will recommend the condemnation award that a court will grant to to Graco walked the easement and toured the factory Monday. The building is about as large as eight football fields.

They're expected to hear arguments from attorneys representing Graco and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board this summer. The Park Board has said its appraisal values the easement at $622,300, but Graco is expected to seek several times that amount.

The easement granted June 30 by a judge in Hennepin County District Court gives the Park Board the right to build recreational paths for foot and bike traffic over Graco property. The long-planned planned East Bank Trail will run from Boom Island Park, across the former Scherer Lumber yard and between the Graco factory and the upper riverfront, extending under the Broadway Avenue Bridge, ending for now where  BNSF tracks cross NE Marshall Street. That's scheduled for 2016 construction.

Monday's tour followed the line of the easement for the paths. They will generally lie to the river side of a paved driveway that Graco uses for maintenance and fire truck access, and to reach a large access door that it uses for delivering manufacturing equipment that's too big to fit through regular loading docks.

Graco told commissioners that it may need to move that access door because of the new paths for what it described as security reasons. It already permits recreational users to use the riverside property from dawn to dusk. But it declined to explain why the more formal paths would constitute an added security risk. A company representative did say that the firm wants to guard proprietary processes and products.

The firm also said the routing of cyclists and pedestrians past its loading docks could prompt reconfiguration of both the interior and exterior of its two-block long factory.

The factory is a densely used, bustling collection of two-story storage racks and work stations where workers machine sprayers, dispensers and mixers for fluids such as oil, adhesives, and chemicals.

(Photos: Above right--Assistant park Superintendent Mike Schroeder shows where the proposed trail will enter Graco land.  Below--Commissioners and attorneys view the north half of the easement, which will lie between the river and a fire lane.)