This HIA informed revisions to the City of Minneapolis Above the Falls Master Plan, which will guide redevelopment of an industrial area along the upper Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis. The Master Plan, being drafted by the City of Minneapolis Department of Community Planning & Economic Development, is intended to increase public access and use of the waterfront, improve housing and employment opportunities, and reduce environmental contamination. The area includes more than two miles of riverfront, and extends into surrounding low-income neighborhoods with high baseline rates of health problems including asthma, diabetes, and violent injury.
Through a survey of residents and a review of public health literature and local data, the assessment concluded that expanding the riverfront parkland would lower rates of obesity and improve mental health. Adding trails would encourage pedestrian and bicycle activity, with the potential to improve social cohesion and perceptions of community safety. The assessment also found that new plantings and vegetation could reduce water pollution from nearby industries but are unlikely to improve air quality. The HIA recommendations supported revisions to the City of Minneapolis Above the Falls Master Plan. These included creating employment opportunities that would benefit residents of North Minneapolis; creating a loop of trails along the riverfront; and ensuring safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists to access the riverfront area from surrounding neighborhoods. The report also recommended that the city engage local youth, communities of color, and individuals with limited English language proficiency in designing and developing the upper riverfront.
As a result of the HIA, the Park and Recreation Board was able to secure a grant for $500,000 that was used to develop a park that included recreational activities and areas for people to congregate. By working in close coordination with community-based organizations, the HIA practitioners also fostered effective community engagement and outreach that included youth, Latino residents, Lao residents, and others in the process.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.