B. F. Nelson


The B.F. Nelson plant as it appeared in an old magazine advertisement.

The former B. F. Nelson industrial site is now B.F. Nelson Park. This 12-acre city park is located on the east bank of the Mississippi River, across from Nicollet Island, at 401 Main Street Northeast, across the river from downtown Minneapolis and contains trails, wetlands, prairie, meadows, observation and historical interpretive areas.


In 2001, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup (VIC) program was contacted by the city of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (Park Board) for assistance in assessing the former industrial property. The Park Board planned to make some changes to the property by adding some amenities and was concerned about the industrial history of the site. The property was first developed in 1882 and over the years housed a sawmill, paper mill and roofing materials manufacturing business.

The property was purchased in 1975 by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) for the Highway 335 project and the buildings were demolished. The highway project never came to fruition and Mn/DOT sold the property to the Park Board in 1986. In 1998 construction fill was deposited at the site in anticipation of constructing an athletic field complex, but the development was halted by neighborhood residents. The property was suspected of containing tar, asbestos and other unknown wastes. Beginning in 2001, the MPCA used 128(a) assessment funds provided by Region V U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to contract with DELTA Environmental Consultants, Inc. (Delta) to do a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) of the park property. Based on the Phase I, the MPCA contracted with Delta using 128(a) assessment funds to perform a Phase II ESA of the areas of concern.

Environmental Issues and the Cleanup Process

  • The Phase II ESA identified tar, shingles and elevated concentrations of Semi-volatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs) and metals in soil samples.
  • In 2002, the Park Board entered the MPCA VIC program.
  • Response actions were required in order to provide a clean soil or pavement buffer between the surface and the contaminated soil and the VIC program approved the Park Board’s Response Action Plan (RAP) in 2004.
  • In November 2005 the project was awarded a Brownfields Cleanup Grant by the EPA.



 Redevelopment of the Site

  • The property was graded to accommodate the meadows, prairie, wetland, observation and historical interpretation areas.
  • Natural landscaping using native plants were used to enhance the riverfront area.
  • Connecting trails were installed linking B. F. Nelson Park to Boom Island Park and Nicollet Island.

Environmental and economic benefits

  • Impacted soil and debris was excavated and disposed of offsite or was overlain by a clean soil buffer to accommodate the new park amenities.
  • Potential exposure to impacted soil was eliminated so the park could be safely developed.

Assurances received

  • October 2004 – No Association Determination to Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board
  • October 2008 – Response Acton Plan Approval Letter
  • May 2011 – Response Action Plan Approval Letter

Institutional controls

An Environmental Covenant will be recorded on the property.

Project partners

  • Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board
  • Hennepin County Environmental Services, Contaminated Lands Unit
  • MPCA staff Andrew Nichols – Project Manager and Amy Hadiaris – Site Hydrogeologist
  • Region V EPA provided the MPCA with 128(a) funds for the site assessment
  • St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization
  • Mississippi Watershed Management Organization
  • DELTA Environmental Consultants, Inc. for performing the initial investigation