Monthly Archives: March 2012

Plan for Brownie Lake Includes Mountain Biking, Bridge Over Channel

The following article by Nick Halter was updated on line in the Southwest Journal on March 8, 2012:

PLAN FOR BROWNIE LAKE INCLUDES MOUNTAIN BIKING, BRIDGE OVER CHANNEL

A new renovation plan for Brownie Lake would add a three-quarter mile mountain biking trail and complete the dirt pedestrian loop with a bridge over the channel to Cedar Lake.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has been approved for over $1 million in federal and state grants for improvements to the area, but about half of that is contingent upon how much money Congress approves this spring in a federal transportation bill.

Brownie Lake has a runoff problem, and erosion and invasive species are threatening water quality. Plus, surrounding infrastructure is crumbling. That prompted the Park Board to appoint a citizens advisory committee tasked with determining how to renovate the area.

The committee came up with a plan to keep many of the rustic qualities that make Brownie what it is: Unpaved trails around the lake, lots of trees and minimal amenities.

The committee’s first priority is to reconstruct the deteriorated bike trail that runs along Cedar Lake Parkway up the hill from the northeast corner of the lake. That trail is part of the Park Board’s Grand Rounds system. The trail would be widened from six feet to eight feet.

The committee is recommending a mountain biking loop that runs up and down the west side of the lake. It would be further inland than the walking and cross-country trails.

The Brownie mountain biking trails would be another step toward the completion of an 8-mile, continuous mountain bike trail throughout Wirth Park. About half of that trail is open at the north end of the park, and the volunteer group Minneapolis Off-Road Cycling Advocates hopes to finish Brownie and the south end of the park by 2013, pending Park Board approval.

Shawn Sheely, vice president of MOCA, said the group constructs the trails primarily by hand, meeting sustainability requirements that prevent erosion. They’re not made for racing, rather recreational biking.

Gone from Brownie would be the old wooden staircase along the east side that acted as a primary entrance. Instead, the plan calls for new entrances on the northeast and southeast corners.

A 60-foot bridge would span the channel that separates Cedar and Brownie. Currently, it’s not possible to complete a loop around Brownie without trespassing on railroad property. The bridge would complete the loop, but also sit 8.5 feet above water so that canoes and cross country skiers could navigate the channel.

The plan would also repair eroded trails, add waste receptacles, install a floating fishing dock, fight Buckthorn and improve storm water runoff. A couple more canoe racks would also be added.

Nine members of the citizens committee have forwarded the plan to the Park Board’s Planning Committee. That committee is scheduled to vote on the plan March 14, and the full Board could adopt it as early as March 21.

Community Input Sought in Lake Nokomis Concession Survey

The following item has been distributed by the Park Board:

Community input sought in Lake Nokomis Concession Survey

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is seeking the community’s input through a survey about future concession services at Lake Nokomis. The survey is available online: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N72QB62 and at Keewaydin, Lake Hiawatha, Lake Nokomis, McRae, Pearl and Sibley recreation centers until April 7.

The survey and collecting community input marks the next important step in the midst of the MPRB’s process of preparing to select a new food vendor for the Lake Nokomis concession. The existing concession building at Lake Nokomis no longer meets health department standards and has been closed for the past two summer seasons.

A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) has been appointed to help determine community and park user preferences for concession services through a variety of methods including the survey. The committee will also help develop a request for proposals and provide recommendations to the Board for the preferred vendor. The CAC held its first meeting Feb. 23, 2012.

An open house is scheduled for March 22 at 7 p.m. at the Lake Nokomis Community Center to gather ideas from the community.

Food service concessions in the Minneapolis Park System, such as Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun, Sea Salt at Minnehaha Park and Bread and Pickle at Lake Harriet, have proved very popular with the public. In addition to providing a much-needed service, the concessions also generate $500,000 in annual income for the MPRB.

If all goes according to schedule, a new concession will be ready to open in April 2013.

Click here to take the Lake Nokomis Concession Survey http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N72QB62

For more information, visit the Lake Nokomis Concessions project page http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1340 or sign up to receive email updates: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1086

Brownie Lake Area Plan Public Hearing

The Park Board has issued the following notice. The Public Hearing will occur during the regular Park Board meeting.

BROWNIE LAKE AREA PLAN PUBLIC HEARING

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Planning Committee will hold a public hearing on the Brownie Lake Area Plan: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1296 on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters, 2117 W River Rd.

The plan, which will provide direction for the design of improvements around the lake, seeks to enhance bicycle and pedestrian trails and connections, restore native vegetation and improve water quality, and allow for current and future recreational opportunity.

Heads-Up for the March 14, 2012 Park Board Meeting

HEADS-UP FOR THE MARCH 14, 2012 PARK BOARD MEETING

5:00 P.M. REGULAR BOARD MEETING. The meeting will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road, just north of Broadway Pizza.

5:30 P.M. OPEN TIME. Speakers need to sign up before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting.

Some items of interest are:

–Docking Permit/Lease Agreement with Paradise Cruises

–Donation Boxes in the parks

–Resolution approving the final report of the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative entitled RiverFIRST

–Joint Recreational Commission with the Minneapolis Public Schools

–Amending MPRB Rules regarding Open Time

–Renewal of the Tin Fish Lease

6:30 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING FOR THE BROWNIE LAKE AREA PLAN

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 is at
http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=37&calid=855

Also of interest and now available to the commissioners and the public are the monthly reports that Superintendent Miller has initiated for construction permits and for Planning Department projects. The availability of these reports is one of the important changes instituted by Superintendent Miller. Look for the links to these reports under Petitions and Communications in the agenda for the first Regular Meeting of the month.

MPRB meetings are telecast live from 5-9 p.m. on the City of Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast cable and online at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/webcasts.

The regular meetings are retelecast on Channel 79 at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Webcasts for the recent two months are posted two to five business days after the meeting and are available for viewing under “Webcast Archives” at http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=900

The Park Board’s website is http://www.minneapolisparks.org. The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Theodore Wirth Park C A C Meeting Scheduled

The following information has been issued by the MPRB:

THEODORE WIRTH PARK CITIZEN ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING SCHEDULED

A Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting to review a revised master plan concept and prioritize needed improvements for Theodore Wirth Park has been scheduled for March 20, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at MPRB Headquarters, 2117 West River Road.  The public is invited to attend.

Map and Directions:

http://maps.yahoo.com/#tt=&q=2117+W+River+Rd%2C+Minneapolis%2C+MN++55411-2227&conf=1&start=1&lat=45.00132&lon=-93.276909&zoom=16&mvt=m&trf=0

Lake Nokomis C A C Schedule

LAKE NOKOMIS CAC SCHEDULE

CAC MEETINGS: all meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. at Nokomis Community Center, 2401 E Minnehaha Parkway. All are welcome to attend; time will be set aside for comments and questions from the public.

February 23, 2012

April 19, 2012 (meet at the site for tour at 6:00 p.m.)

June 21, 2012

July 14, 2012

OPEN HOUSE: Thursday, March 22, 7:00 pm, at Nokomis Community Center, 2401 E Minnehaha Parkway

SURVEY: Posted online from February 29 to April 7. Paper copies available at recreation centers, through neighborhood organizations, and the MPRB Customer Service desk.

Lake Nokomis Concessions

The following news release has been distributed by the Park Board:

LAKE NOKOMIS CONCESSIONS

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is preparing to select a new food vendor for the Lake Nokomis concession. A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) has been appointed to help determine community and park user preferences for concession services. The committee will also help develop a request for proposals and provide recommendations to the Board for the preferred vendor.

Public Impact / Projected Timeline http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1340#impact

Updates http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1340#updates

News Releases http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1340#news

Public Participation http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1340#participation

Reports http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1340#reports

Park History http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1340#parkhistory

PUBLIC IMPACT/PROJECTED TIMELINE

The concession building at Lake Nokomis no longer meets health department standards, and has been closed for the last two seasons.

The schedule for the project is as follows:

Survey – February 29 to March 30

Open house – March 22

RFP released – April 30

Proposals due – May 31

Vendor recommendations to the board and public hearing – August 5

Board approval – September 5

Concession building renovation – October to March

Concession open – April 2013

Vision for Fuji-Ya Site Would Connect Residents to River History

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the February 27 issue of the Downtown Journal:

VISION FOR FUJI YA SITE WOULD CONNECT RESIDENTS TO RIVER HISTORY

Most residents know the area as Mill Ruins or the old Fuji Ya site. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has begun rolling the ball on planning for a project known as “Water Works” that would liven up the riverfront where the city began.

On Tuesday night, architects presented to neighbors and stakeholders concepts for what a Water Works project could be.

The Water Works site is roughly bounded by the Mill City Museum, the 3rd Avenue Bridge, 1st Street and the river.

Some of the concepts include:

— A new building at the former Fuji Ya site that would include a restaurant. That restaurant would be run similar to Sea Salt Eatery at Minnehaha Park. Its top level would overlook the river, providing a nice place to sit and have a glass of wine. This restaurant would help fund the operation of the park. Sea Salt generated $240,000 for the Park Board in 2011. This building would also act as a park pavilion and warming house, with restrooms. The Fuji Ya building has been vacant for 22 years and architect Tom Meyer said it has too many problems to be renovated.

— The opening to the public of the mill tunnels, which sit about 25-feet below ground at the site. The tunnels are the remnants of the roughly 150-year old mills that operated on the western riverfront. They run all the way from the Stone Arch Bridge to the Fuji Ya site, and it might be possible to connect the tunnels to the restaurant building.

— A new West River Parkway that might use a shared street model, meaning planters would replace curbs and traffic would be slowed to 15 miles per hour.

— A gathering place near the site of a parking lot where 5th Avenue meets the river. This might incorporate a water fountain of some sort. The parking lot would be removed.

— Opening up underground mill ruins that would act as history rooms. One of those rooms would be dedicated to the history of Native Americans at the site.

Of course, the big question is money. Bruce Chamberlain, the Park Board’s assistant superintendent of planning, said the Board has set aside about $7 million over the next five years for capital improvements to the central riverfront district. He said that pot of money would likely act as seed money, encouraging private investment.

The concept framework, released on Tuesday, should be posted the Park Board’s website, (minneapolisparks.org) soon. After that, the Park Board will allow for 30 days of public comment, with hopes of moving toward a full design.

Asked by the audience how long until the project might be completed, Chamberlain said it could be done in less than 10 years.

Park Board Identifies Projects for Riverfront Revitalization

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the March 5, 2012 edition of the Southwest Journal:

PARK BOARD IDENTIFIES PROJECTS FOR RIVERFRONT REVITALIZATION

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is close to approving a full plan to revitalize the riverfront north of Boom Island, pinpointing three projects that are likely to come together the soonest.

A full report, called RiverFIRST, outlines several projects and a framework for connecting the community to the upper river, the last major waterfront in the city that has no nearby trails.

Three projects are listed as the most immediate: paving bike and pedestrian trails along both sides of the river, developing a park at the former Scherer Bros. lumber site just north of Broadway Avenue, and building a green space that would connect North Minneapolis via Fairview Park, over the top of I-94, to the riverfront.

“It’s these projects that really rise to the top as far as the immediacy of implementation,” said Assistant Superintendent of Planning Bruce Chamberlain.

The Park Board is considering spending money to have a design team to develop “schematic plans” that will give detailed cost estimates and push the projects closer to construction.

The Park Board already owns the Scherer Bros. site and has taken steps to clear it. It has also applied for federal grants through the Metropolitan Council for trails along the river.

RiverFIRST, in its entirety, is estimated to cost about $175 million, but includes many more projects such as biohavens on the river, wetlands on the west side of the river and a Gateway Park that would make a green connection Nicollet Mall to the river.

The Park Board has set aside about $25 million for riverfront development over the next five years in its capital improvement program.

“We need to be aggressive and forward thinking about how we can bring partners to the table and find other funding mechanisms in order to accomplish this aggressive project,” Chamberlain said.

Questions still surround the project. Some have complained that the Park Board hasn’t reached out to communities of color on the west side of the river for input.

Commissioner Jon Olson, who represents North Minneapolis, said the plan to connect his part of the city to the river via a land bridge isn’t large enough.

“A lot of people like the land bridge, and yeah I think it’s a great idea, but I think it’s far too small,” Olson said.

Brownie Lake Plan Public Hearing

The following item has been issued by the MPRB:

BROWNIE LAKE PLAN PUBLIC HEARING

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Planning Committee will hold a public hearing on the Brownie Lake Area Plan March 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters, 2117 W River Rd.

The plan, which will provide direction for the design of improvements around the lake, seeks to enhance bicycle and pedestrian trails and connections, restore native vegetation and improve water quality, and allow for current and future recreational opportunities.

For further information about the plan, see the current news release or visit the project page on the MPRB website.