Newport wants a closer relationship with the Mississippi and turns to 3M for help.
The city is considering a package of river-friendly proposals – buying an island, removing a dam, adding boat docks, and building two riverside parks.
But Newport will need part of the $ 850 million settlement from a 3M lawsuit, according to city manager Deb Hill.
“We couldn’t do this alone,” said Hill.
The city council discussed the proposals in a workshop on Thursday. Hill said the proposals are preliminary and there are no cost estimates or timetables for the work yet.
The proposal involves the purchase of an undeveloped 22-acre island west of Cedar Lane, which a nonprofit called Peacebunny Island bought for $ 35,000 in 2018. The proposal contained no potential improvements for the island.
A new park would be built across Cedar Lane across from the island.
To do this, a dike built in 1965 would have to be breached so that the floodwater can flow into an area of around one block.
The city would buy and demolish the last home on the flood plain – a two-story home at 1651 Cedar Lane. The city is seeking help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in purchasing this home, which has an estimated market value of $ 341,000.
The park would have a canoe and kayak launch and parking for up to 10 vehicles.
South of that park, near Ninth Street, another park would be built on a lot called Mill Pond.
This park would have a deck for fishing and parking for 10 cars. The new park would include the historic Mississippi survey on 10th Street, which would be expanded and improved.
3M paid $ 850 million in 2018 to resolve an environmental damage lawsuit. The attorney general accused 3M chemicals of harming the environment when they spilled from landfills to groundwater and river water in the area.
Of the $ 850 million, $ 20 million was earmarked for improving “outdoor recreation.” City Administrator Hill said the Newport projects may qualify.
Two advisory groups have met regularly since 2018 to make recommendations on how to use the 3M settlement money, of which $ 700 million remains after legal costs.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources will have final authority over the distribution of the money. The dispute settlement provides for projects to be selected that will protect the quality of drinking water and improve the area’s natural resources.