The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) cited community safety concerns in its decision to completely close access to the Stone Arch Bridge in the heart of Minneapolis for several overnights during the July 4 holiday.
A post on the MPRB’s website Wednesday read:
“The Stone Arch Bridge will close overnight (8 pm-6 am) beginning at 8 pm on Friday, June 30 and ending at 6 am, Wednesday, July 5. It will be closed to both pedestrian and bicycle traffic. During this period of overnight closures, the bridge will be open from 6 am-8 pm.
Last year, large Fourth of July gatherings in riverfront parks and neighborhoods created unsafe, chaotic situations. This proactive measure will help park staff and public safety agencies better manage crowds and safety during a very busy time for riverfront parks and neighborhoods. Riverfront trail users will be detoured to the Hennepin Avenue Bridge.”
The Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association, the neighborhood where the northern end of the bridge is located, was up in arms about the proposed closure and tried to get it stopped through community input to park board members but ultimately failed to stop the closure.
However, the MPRB announced Thursday that the overnight closures will begin at 10 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.
Just learned that the Mpls Park Board is currently crafting a plan to shut down all access to the Stone Arch Bridge each night this holiday weekend (June 30 thru July 5) from 8PM!!! to 6AM.
Please let the MPRB know how you feel about this:
— Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood (@MarcyHolmesMpls) June 28, 2023
The City of Minneapolis has also canceled its July 4 fireworks display for the fourth year in a row which usually takes place near the Stone Arch Bridge and Father Hennepin Park. Last year the city cited construction at Father Hennepin Park for the cancelation, but the park has just been reopened this month following the completion of renovations.
The city is instead hosting a “patriotic laser show” at Boom Island Park in Northeast Minneapolis on July 3, according to the MPRB website. The Star Tribune reported that MPRB cited cost deficits for the fireworks cancelation this year.
Despite the plan for safety precautions over the holiday weekend, mayhem once again broke out in Dinkytown Wednesday night in a foreshadowing of a possible replay of last year’s chaos over the Independence Day weekend.
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) June 29, 2023
Police aired over dispatch several reports of unruly crowds and fireworks being shot off in the Dinkytown and Stone Arch Bridge areas as well as the downtown side of the river. At one point, a Minneapolis officer aired that U of M police didn’t have enough officers to respond to help with the Dinkytown crowd and asked the dispatcher to request help from Hennepin County deputies.
At least 19 people were shot in Minneapolis last year from July 4 to 5 — at least seven of them in a mass shooting at Boom Island Park — and chaos went unanswered for hours in multiple areas of Minneapolis.
It’s unclear at this point whether the city and local law enforcement will have the resources to respond if a similar situation plays out again this year.
Update: This story was updated after the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced Thursday that the overnight closures will begin at 10 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.