The Federal Government owns the St. Anthony Falls Lock, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. USACE has two Congressional authorizations for the site: navigation and flood management. Navigation authorization was suspended in 2015 by an act of Congress. The Corps launched a disposition study for the entire series of Locks serving the Upper River, including the Upper Lock, the Lower Lock, and Lock 1, in the summer of 2018. However, the passage by Congress of the 2018 Water Resources Development Act in 2018, and in particular, Section 1225 of that bill, led to changes in scope and timing for consideration of the three Locks. Currently, the Corps is undertaking a disposition study for the Upper Lock only, and the Locks further downstream will be considered at a future date.
The City of Minneapolis was a cost sharing partner with the U.S. Corps of Engineers in the development of the initial civil works project, having contributed not only dollars, dredging rights, and land, but also making adjustments to 12 bridges along the navigation corridor in order to enable barge traffic to serve the Upper Harbor. The City has a strong interest in the future of the Lock as a civic and public amenity in keeping with adopted plans. In June of 2017, the City passed a resolution to include a request for $1.5 million pre-design dollars in its 2018 bonding request. That request was unsuccessful in the 2018 cycle, and has remained on the City's list in 2019. MMB staff and state legislators have toured the Lock with the City and FL&D, once in the last quarter of 2017 and once in the first quarter of 2018.
The National Park Service secured a use agreement for visitor services on the Lock in 2016, shortly after the closure of the Lock to navigation, and that usage was expanded in 2017. The National Park Service's nonprofit partner, Mississippi Park Connection, has managed programming and activation at the Lock with support from Friends of the Lock & Dam and other generous donors. The National Parks Conservation Association led a series of visioning meetings for the Lock in 2016, resulting in the creation of an Ideas Book. A National Park Visitor Center is one of the most desired program elements for the site.
The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board included a policy directive in its Central Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan, adopted in 2015, recommending a visitor center on the Lock. The site abuts Water Works Park and Mill Ruins Park, both owned by the Park Board. Friends of the Lock & Dam envisions seamless connectivity between Water Works Park and The Falls, which, if successful, will be perceived and experienced by visitors as one large park. The Park Board passed a resolution of support for the City's funding request at the Lock, and committed to coordination.
Meet Minneapolis, the convention and tourism association, recommends building an iconic visitor center on the Central Riverfront in its tourism master plan, Destination Transformation 2030. The Upper Lock presents the opportunity to do so, and Meet Minneapolis anticipates having a presence in the facility. The Upper Lock visitor center will become a natural hub of activity and information about what the region, and the river, has to offer.
The Minnesota State Legislature considered the City's request for $1.5 million for predesign in the 2018 legislative session. In February 2018, Senators Champion, Hayden, and Dziedzic introduced S.F. No. 2707: A bill for an act relating to capital investment; appropriating money for Upper St. Anthony Lock redevelopment; authorizing the sale and issuance of state bonds. The bill was referred to the Committee on Capital Investment. The bill did not succeed.
Future actions of government at the municipal, state, and federal level will be necessary for The Falls to be implemented. Strong coordination is already taking place to establish a critical path for the project with the goal of beginning construction on the project in 2021/2022.
- March 2018 – RESOLUTION: a detailed resolution of support for repurposing the Upper Lock passes the City of Minneapolis Council Committee on Intergovernmental Relations.
- January 2018 – the City of Minneapolis toured the Lock with members of the Minnesota Senate, their staff, and Friends of the Lock & Dam.
- October 2017 – the City of Minneapolis toured the Lock with members of the Minnesota House of Representatives, their staff, and Friends of the Lock & Dam.
- October 2017 – Request submitted by the City of Minneapolis to the Minnesota Management and Budget office for $1.5 million state dollars for redevelopment of the St. Anthony Falls Upper Lock.
- September 2017 – Letter from City and Park Board sent to Assistant Secretary of the Army in support of the project.
- June 2017 – RESOLUTION: City of Minneapolis passed a Resolution on State Bond Request including a $1.5 million request for predesign dollars to redevelop the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock.
- May 2017 - Letter from City and Park Board to Director of Planning at US Army Corps of Engineers in support of the project.
- May 2017 – RESOLUTION: Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board passed a Resolution of support for City State Bond Request for Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock.
- Historical Action – City entered into Cost Sharing Agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and undertook work to implement commercial navigation on the Upper River.
- July 2019 – FL&D's request for funding to acquire land and make early enhancements at the Upper Lock is one of a subset of applicants heard by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. A presentation and testimony before the Commission was made by Board President Paul Reyelts, Project Director Kjersti Monson, and National Parks Superintendent John Anfinson. The FL&D Project was successful, and is one of 77 successful applicants that were tentatively selected for funding. The funding allocated to the FL&D proposal totals $2.8 million and would become available in July 2020 if affirmed by the Legislature.
- March 2018 – H.F. 2989 is heard by the House Capital Committee, introduced by Rep. Dehn and with testimony by Mayor Jacob Frey, The Falls project manager Kjersti Monson, and Friends of the Lock & Dam lead counsel Sam Kaplan. Read about it here. The requested appropriation for the Upper Lock fails to make the final bill.
- February 2018 – Senators Champion, Hayden and Dziedzic introduced S.F. No. 2707; and Representatives Dehn, Omar, Lee, and Wagenius introduced H.F. 2989: A bill for an act relating to capital investment; appropriating money for Upper St. Anthony Lock redevelopment; authorizing the sale and issuance of state bonds.
- January 2018 – Members of the Capital Investment Committee, Minnesota Senate toured the Lock with the City of Minneapolis and Friends of the Lock & Dam.
- October 20 – Minnesota Management and Budget office received City of Minneapolis request for $1.5 million predesign dollars for redevelopment of the Lock
- October 10, 2017 – Members of the Capital Investment Committee, Minnesota House of Representatives, toured the Lock with the City of Minneapolis and Friends of the Lock & Dam.
- October 2, 2017 – Staff from Minnesota Management & Budget office toured the Lock with the City of Minneapolis and Friends of the Lock & Dam.
- August 2019 - USACE kicks off the expedited disposition study for the Upper Lock with two public meetings, and opens a public comment period.
- May 2019 - USACE Implementation Guidance for Section 1225 of the 2018 Water Resources Development Act issued to the St. Paul District, thereby establishing a path forward for kicking off a new, more targeted, disposition study for the Upper Lock only.
- October 2018 - Water Resources Development Act signed into law, including guidance for the expedited disposition of the Upper Lock in Section 1225.
- April 2018 – Original U.S. Army Corps of Engineers disposition study kickoff, looking at all three Locks on the Upper Mississippi (this study did not move forward because of the scope change that Congress directed in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act, see above).
- August 2017 – After a review of the federal interest, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision meeting determination is to proceed with a disposition study including consideration of the Upper Lock, Lower Lock, and Lock 1, and to seek funding in FY 2018.
- June 2017 – National Park Service expanded tours and summer activation on the Lock, including “Illuminate the Lock” event organized by Mississippi Park Connection and Northern Spark.
- March 2016 – National Park Service obtained Use Agreement from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct visitor tours on the Lock.
- 2015 – US Army Corps navigation authorization suspended at Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock by Congressional directive.