Upper Lock Disposition Study Draft Report

PREPARE FEEDBACK FOR PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is expected to re-release its draft report by January 20, 2021.
The updated deadline for the public comment period is not yet known.

USACE Report Status

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released its disposition study draft report and recommendations for the Upper Lock at St. Anthony Falls on December 16, 2020 and opened a 60-day public comment period, ending February 16, 2021.

Shortly after, on December 27, the Water Resources Development Act was signed into law. Congress directed partial disposition of the property for use as “a comprehensive recreational, touristic, and interpretive experience”, and conveyance to the City of Minneapolis or its designee. This legislation reflects over six years of committed bipartisan effort on behalf of our state by the Minnesota delegation, including Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Representatives Angie Craig, Ilhan Omar, and, in prior years, Erik Paulsen and Keith Ellison.

The USACE is currently revising its draft report to reflect the new legislation. The report will be re-posted to the USACE website before January 20, 2021. The USACE will also extend the public comment period.

USACE Disposition Recommendation

In the initial release of the USACE's draft report (December 16, 2020), the USACE recommended "Complete Deauthorization and Disposal combined with offering a monetary incentive to the new owner in exchange for expediting the disposal through a direct property transfer," or full disposition, of the Upper Lock.

Full disposition indicates the Corps seeks to abandon the Lock structure, including the cost of maintaining the structure and its responsibility for flood risk management.

The Corps has stated that WRDA 2020 does not change the Corps' recommendation for complete disposal of property nor its obligation to complete the disposition study.

Our Position

We support the WRDA 2020 law directing partial disposition and conveyance of the property to the City of Minneapolis or its designee. Partial disposition would convey the land while leaving the Lock structure itself and its operations for flood control in the hands of the Corps.

The City of Minneapolis and Friends of the Falls are opposed to full disposition.

We ask the Corps to reconsider its position and expedite partial disposition.

Why support partial disposition rather than full?

We know of no entity outside the Corps that is willing and able to fully acquire the Upper Lock and assume associated flood mitigation responsibilities. Full disposition holds the redevelopment of the Central Riverfront hostage to the Corps’ ability to identify a nonfederal entity to take over the property.

Partial disposition is consistent with the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, signed into law on December 27.

Partial disposition would catalyze a $2.8 million state commitment and a $2.5 million private sector match secured by Friends of the Falls. This funding is at risk if Corps insists on full disposition and the project is subjected to indefinite delay.

There is threat of the site becoming a hydroelectric facility rather than serving as a public asset.

Respond to the Study

Submit a comment letter as an individual or on behalf of an organization before February 16, 2021* during the 60-day public comment period. *The USACE has stated it will extend the duration of the public comment period following the re-release of the draft report. The updated deadline is not yet known.

Email comments:
MplsLocksDisposition@usace.army.mil

Formal written correspondence:
District Engineer, St. Paul District, Corps of Engineers
ATTN: Regional Planning and Environmental Division North
180 Fifth Street East
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101

We encourage you to support partial disposition.

You may draft your comment letter using this template. The template is merely a resource. We encourage you to write openly and from the heart, reflecting your personal opinion about the future of the Upper Lock.

If you’re willing, please email a copy of your comment letter to info@thefalls.org.