Winona, Minnesota is the county seat of Winona County, located in picturesque bluff country on the Mississippi River. Its most noticeable physical landmark is Sugar Loaf. The city is named after legendary figure Winona, said to have been the first-born daughter of Chief Wapasha (Wabasha) III. It has a population of about 28,000.
Winona and the Mississippi River go hand in hand, and soon the area around Main Street and Levee Park will be open to unite them even more.
Before it became a “concrete park,” Winona’s downtown riverfront park was considered the jewel of the Upper Mississippi. For decades, Winonans have dreamed of restoring it to its former glory.
Finally, in August of 2016, the Winona City Council backed those dreams with a seven-digit budget. The council voted unanimously to propose a $6.8 million borrowing package and 10.5 percent property tax levy increase for 2017 — the largest tax increase in over a decade. The money would fund a lot of things, but Levee Park would get more than any other single project: $2.2-$2.6 million.
“We’ve talked about it for so long now that to not do something would be such a negative,” said Lynn Nankivil, who served on the Riverfront Committee. “We really need to move forward with something down there, and it isn’t just OK the way it is,” she stated.
“Levee Park is really the best place in downtown Winona to go enjoy the river,” Winona Mayor Mark Peterson said.
Steve Sarvi, Winona City Manager, and other leaders claim that this is just the beginning, a jumping off point for future renovations all throughout Winona, with hopes of bringing more people to the city and hopefully making them stay.
Photo of Levee Park via VisitWinona.com