A healthier community becomes part of the upper Mississippi riverfront’s future

Minneapolis has been awarded a grant that will help ensure that the future development of the upper Mississippi riverfront makes our city a healthier place. The funding will allow Minneapolis to conduct a health impact assessment that will add a health component to the City of Minneapolis Above the Falls Master Plan. 

The grant was awarded by the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, through support from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Minneapolis was chosen as one of 15 new grant recipients from among 250 applications from across the country.

The Above the Falls Master Plan will guide redevelopment of an industrial area along the upper Mississippi riverfront in the city and is intended to increase public access and use of the waterfront, improve housing, add parks, increase 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 injuries due to violence.

Using this grant, the City will conduct the health impact assessment under the direction of the Above the Falls Citizen Advisory Committee and in collaboration with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to assess the ways in which proposed elements of the Master Plan will affect the health of people in the area.

Health impact assessments look at potential health effects of policies and projects, and they help policy makers and communities take a broad look at the impacts of decisions, helping maximize health benefits. For instance, the future development of the area may change exposure to air and water pollution, develop park land along the riverfront to provide opportunities for exercise, revitalize substandard housing, and attract businesses to the area. The health impact assessment will provide new health-based recommendations that will be incorporated into the master plan in order to optimize the net health impacts on the river and surrounding area. 

The Health Impact Project is a leading national initiative dedicated to promoting the use of health impact assessments in the United States. For more information about this project, contact Dave Johnson at 612-673-3948 or david.johnson@minneapolismn.gov. More information about the other projects and health impact assessments in general is available at www.healthimpactproject.org.

Published Mar. 6, 2012