Minneapolis park commissioners Monday voted to approve an easement that provides trail access to riverfront land owned by Graco Minnesota Inc., but without the conditions on which the firm insists.

That development means that the Park Board may need to acquire the land by condemnation, with a court hearing scheduled for next week.

"It's up to them. They gave their final offer and we gave ours," Park Board President Liz Wielinski said after the unanimous vote at a brief board meeting that followed nearly two hours behind closed doors with a lawyer.

Graco spokesman Bryce Hallowell said beforehand the firm would sign the easement if the Park Board agreed to forgo residential development on a piece of parkland that adjoins Graco's factory and support vacating one block of 10th Avenue NE. that serves the factory's loading dock.

The vote may not resolve a monthslong dispute between Graco and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board over the planned East Bank Trail between a Graco factory and the river.

The Park Board is setting aside more than $622,000, the land's appraised value, to pay for the easement by condemnation in case the issue goes to court. Hallowell predicted that the eventual cost will be much higher. A voluntary agreement would mean acquiring the easement at no cost.

The Park Board has not agreed to a 50,000-square-foot office building that the firm would like to build on parkland at 10th Avenue NE and NE Sibley Street. Graco submitted an architectural design earlier this month. The board might lease part of the former Scherer lumber site in that area for development, using that rental income to help pay for operating the rest of that site as a park adjacent to the Plymouth Avenue Bridge.

The Park Board could also seek other development proposals for that portion of the Scherer site. Hallowell said the cost and timing of the proposed Graco building haven't been determined. The Park Board hasn't secured the $12 million it sought from the Legislature to begin the first phase of the park, re-creating an island.

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