The Greenway concept was initially proposed by the North Dakota Congressional Delegation after the flood of 1997. The Greenway is more than a device for flood mitigation; it is an enhancement to the quality of life for residents of the Greater Grand Forks area.
In 1998, the City of Grand Forks commissioned Greenways Incorporated to build on the original vision for the Greenway and develop a comprehensive Greenway Plan. A series of public meetings were held with residents from both communities. These meetings helped define a working concept for the purpose, function and composition of the Greenway. The result produced a document known as the Greenway Plan. A portion of the Greenway Plan was approved by the Grand Forks City Council in September 2001.
The Greenway Plan defined a strategy for controlling future flooding and providing a recreational amenity for local residents of the Greater Grand Forks area. The Greenway Plan was a working document used in the development of the Greenway. It was a conceptual guide, rather than the rule, for development of the Greenway.