Monthly Archives: August 2012

Long-Debated, Long-Awaited Dog Park Might Open in November

The following article by Randy Furst was published in the Star Tribune on August 29, 2012:


The long debated and much anticipated dog park in south Minneapolis could be operational by mid to late November, a Parks Board official said Wednesday.

“I think it’s going to be a really fun spot,” said Jennifer Ringold, manager of public engagement and city wide planning for the park board.

An informational meeting for citizens is taking place on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Lyndale Farmstead Park, 3900 Bryant Ave.

Construction bids could go out in early September for the Sixth District dog park on Kings Hwy. across from the Lakewood Cemetery. The park will cover .6 of an acre.

“The intent is to have the contractor in place by the beginning of October,” she said. “It should not be a long construction process; we anticipate six to eight weeks.”

In 2010, the park board unveiled plans to build the dog park at Dr. Martin Luther King Park at 40th St. East and Nicollet Ave. But after a six-month debate, the idea was scrapped because of widespread opposition from the black community, particularly from older blacks who lived during and participated in the civil rights movement. Many recalled the images of police dogs attacking demonstrators, and people felt a dog park would desecrate the memory of King, the nation’s most famous civil rights leader.

The park board then engaged in an extensive process to find an alternative dog site and settled on the parking lot behind a park operations building at 38th St. and Kings Hwy.

Construction plans were delayed this summer so that park officials could reexamine drainage issues at the site.

Ringold said that 15 times in the last 20 years, the parking lot has flooded, and there was concern that the wood chips, that park officials planned to use as the surface of the dog park would float away into an adjacent storm water pond and foul up the pumps that push the water into the city’s underground storm water system.

So instead, the park board plans to cover the dog park with crushed granite, similar to the finely ground material used on the infields of baseball diamonds or along the base lines of softball fields, Ringold said. “It took time to figure out the right material,” she said.

Work will include removing the existing asphalt, installing a perimeter fence and entrance gates and installing the new surface. There also may be a shade structure and water faucet for drinking water for the dogs.

The plan also includes creating spots for eight cars to park by carving out eight parking bays along the boulevard of Kings Parkway. People who don’t get those spots will have to park on side streets, Ringold said.

A Not So Hidden Beach

The following article by Michelle Bruch was published in the August 20, 2012 issue of the Southwest Journal:


It’s been a wild summer at “Hidden Beach,” which can be found off a dead-end street near 21st & Upton.

Park Police say the beach yielded the largest call load of all city parks from June to mid-July, generating more than 100 calls for service.

Arsonists burned down the outhouse this summer. But nearly all of the other incidents were “nuisance” crimes, according to Park Police Sgt. Fred McCormick. They include minor alcohol and narcotics violations, swimming across the lake (an illegal action) and disorderly conduct.

“It’s generally very safe,” McCormick said. “And we want to keep it safe.”

To fix the problem, residents in the Kenwood Isles Area Association (KIAA) decided in July to spend $5,000 on dedicated park patrols, an action the board has taken in prior years. The funding pays for 40 hours of police time. The money ensures that officers who normally patrol several lakes take the time to check Hidden Beach on foot.

Police and park officials blame the crime spate on the long, hot summer.

“It’s attracted more users to all the beaches,” McCormick said. “When you have more people down there, there are more incidents, and more enforcement.”

Hidden Beach isn’t visible from the street. The woods also conceal a gooey mud pit, with soft mud reaching thigh-high in some places. On a recent weekday, cigarette butts were scattered across the beach, an occasional beer bottle dotted the woods and a sign offered pot for sale. Young families waded in the water. A group of teens slathered themselves head-to-toe in mud, occasionally running back to the beach to wash off.

“Unlike other beaches, there are places where you can hide in the heavy vegetation and woods,” said Park Board Commissioner Anita Tabb. “It’s easy for people to do things and hide and get away. Some of its beauty is also some of its downfall.”

Hidden Beach has provided a natural oasis for several generations of partiers. Self-proclaimed hippies cultivated a free-spirited atmosphere. Other regular beachgoers maintained the mud pit, filling it with buckets of water whenever necessary.

“When I first moved here, if you would Google ‘nude beaches,’ Hidden Beach was one of the first that popped up,” said Kathy Williams, who moved to the neighborhood in 2003. “Young people from all over would come check it out. It had a reputation. I guess it still does.”

Wiliams sends monthly crime alerts to 290 nearby households. From her perspective, the biggest disturbances occur when partiers leave the beach late at night. Some have made lots of racket, urinated in people’s yards and discarded trash along the street.

“Since [the Park Board] made changes, I haven’t experienced that,” Williams said.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board decided to make Hidden Beach an official park in 2007. The board renamed it East Cedar Lake Beach, added picnic tables to appeal to families, installed lifeguards and started monitoring water quality. Staff also cleared out buckthorn, which comprised 70 percent of the beach’s vegetation at the time. Clearing the invasive plants improved sightlines across the beach.

Williams said in the years since the beach became an official park, she still hears sirens headed down to the area, and notices that signs listing park rules are destroyed the minute they go up.

“Usually it’s a pretty quiet group,” Williams said. “I can always smell marijuana down there, no matter when I go. … I don’t think you can allow it, otherwise it gets out of control.”

This year, she noted, KIAA did not allocate money for extra beach patrols at the beginning of the summer.

Board chair Larry Moran said there isn’t any particular reason for a delayed allocation of funds this year, and he noted that the board keeps in close contact with the 5th Precinct.

“We’ve been doing this for years,” he said. “We think the increased patrol will hopefully help maintain the neighborhood feeling we want to have there.”

Neighbor Marian Behrend moved into her Upton Avenue home across from the beach in 1962.

“I never go down there anymore,” said Behrend, who swam at the park until “word got around” about its existence. “There are so many cars there. … Things change.”

Former Kenwood resident Gary Anderson lived near the beach for 14 years, only passing by the area to walk his dog.

“I would always see the same group of down-and-outers hanging out there,” he said. “It’s too bad it attracts kind of a rough group of kids. … But that’s the way it is.”

At a recent neighborhood meeting, Tabb heard one resident suggest they close Hidden Beach entirely.

“We just worked so hard to get it open,” Tabb said. “It’s never an easy solution, and there are always different points of view. Most people want to keep it open. We want to keep it clean and safe.”

Drainage Concerns Slow Dog Park at Lyndale Farmstead

The following article by Nick Halter and Maggie Kane was published in the August 20, 2012 issue of the Southwest Journal:


When the Minneapolis Park Board in December finally picked a site for a new dog park in Southwest, officials had hoped to have selected a contractor by spring and started construction by summer.

But issues with drainage at the selected site — Lyndale Farmstead Park — have slowed the process, said Jennifer Ringold, manager of public engagement and citywide planning. The Park Board had planned to use a wood chip base on the land, but Ringold said the city of Minneapolis raised concerns about the impact of floods washing the chips into the nearby stormwater pond and damaging the system.

Instead, the Park Board is planning to use a crushed granite material, which Ringold described as being similar to that used on baseball diamonds but with a stronger bond to prevent runoff. The Park Board is planning an Aug. 22 meeting at Lyndale Farmstead Park to discuss the material with neighbors and members of a citizen committee that chose the site.

Some neighbors are frustrated by the delay. Many had hoped for a late summer opening, but now it appears that the contract for construction won’t go out to bid until later in August with a September groundbreaking.

Ringold said the city is on board with the idea of using a gravel surface and the goal is now to have the park done before January.

“I think that people are concerned it’s taking so long, and we’re definitely apologetic for that and wanting to move it along as fast as we can,” she said.

Ringold said it’s not possible to use a grass surface because the park will be relatively small and it wouldn’t last with dogs running over it.

David Brauer, who was a member of the citizen committee that chose the site, said he actually prefers a harder surface to woodchips. Woodchips, he said, are kind of ugly and get dirty from dog feces.

Brauer plans to attend the Aug. 22 meeting because he wants to know more about the new material as well as to get more details on any potential changes to the concept plan for the site passed back in December.

He’s not upset by how long it’s taken, though he did expect the park to be open this fall at latest.

“I’m not outraged. I don’t get the sense that the Park Board was dragging its feet,” Brauer said. “I am way more concerned that they do this right than do it fast.”

The Aug. 22 meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

Some Concerns Regarding the Lake Nokomis Concessions Project

The following statement was presented at Open Time during the August 15, 2012 Park Board meeting:


August 15, 2012


I have been following the progress of the Lake Nokomis CAC and am here today to share some of my concerns.
According to the Lake Nokomis Concessions timetable, both the CAC’s recommendations and the resulting 10-year lease with Sandcastle will be presented to the Park Board’s Innovation Committee on September 5 and to the full Board on Sept. 19. However, I believe that the the CAC’s report should be heard in Admin and Finance and not in Innovation. I also believe that it is important for the current Lake Nokomis Concessions timeline to be revised for the following reasons:

More information is needed. You, the Commissioners, will need additional information prior to voting in order to make an informed decision regarding Lake Nokomis concessions. Because the CAC process failed to consider and evaluate certain critical and relevant issues, you will not be able to make an informed decision on September 5. To ensure a successful outcome for the Park Board, the vendor and the public, you–the Commissioners–will need additional information.

For example, the most critical component of the Lake Nokomis project will be the renovation of the existing concessions building. But decisions regarding various structural options were never addressed by the Lake Nokomis CAC as they were by the Lake Harriet CAC. The Lake Harriet Refectory was at least functional to begin with. The Lake Nokomis structure presently is not functional, nor has it been functional for sometime.

Prior to circulating an RFP, the Lake Harriet CAC created a “Structural Consideration Matrix” (dated July 23, 2009) which allowed the Lake Harriet CAC to review the pros and cons as well as cost estimates for a range of building improvements. This information was very important for the Lake Harriet CAC’s decision-making process and for its recommendations to the Board. No similar chart was prepared for the Lake Nokomis structure. But a similar analysis should have been done for the Lake Nokomis building before the RFP was circulated.

Because the Lake Nokomis building is in questionable condition and not up to code, it will require substantial improvements. Since no structural analysis was done, the Park Board does not know what it will cost to bring the structure up to code or to make the building usable and has left these important decisions up to the bidding vendors. Why wasn’t the Park Board’s Planning staff included in the CAC process?

Then there are the ramifications of a 10-year contract. The commissioners need to fully understand the ramifications of a 10-year contract. No other Park Board food concessions vendor (Tin Fish, Sea Salt or Bread & Pickle) has been given a 10-year contract; in fact, at the final CAC meeting, MPRB President John Erwin told the CAC that the Park Board does not favor long term contracts.

In conclusion, I believe that you will need additional time, additional information and additional expertise before committing the Park Board and taxpayers to any binding agreement regarding the Lake Nokomis concessions project. Therefore, I urge you to place this project on the September 5 agenda as a discussion item–and not an action item–so that there will be adequate time to fully and carefully consider all aspects of this project prior to voting on it.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Heads-Up for the August 15, 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 can call 612-230-6400 before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting to sign up or they can sign up at the Board meeting prior to the start of “Open Time.”

Some agenda items of interest are:

–Resolution to Receive and File the Financial Status Report of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as of the Second Quarter, 2012

–Resolution to Receive and File the Annual Financial Report of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the Year Ended December 31, 2011

–Discussion item: 2011 Annual Financial Audit Exit Meeting

–Resolution Approving Extension to Employment Agreement with Jayne Miller as Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

–North Lake Calhoun/South Lake of the Isles Design Charrette Discussion Item

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 is at

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

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

The Park Board’s website is The phone number is 612-230-6400.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

$1 Million Grant to Build Bike Trail on the Mississippi River's East Bank

The following article by Masako Hirsch was published in the August 6, 2012 issue of the Star Tribune:


A $1 million federal grant will fund a new off-road bike path that will follow the Mississippi River in Northeast.

The Federal Highway Administration granted the money to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board last week to build the East Bank Trail. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will use the money toward the design and construction of a 0.75-mile off-road bicycle and pedestrian trail from 16th Avenue NE in Above The Falls Regional Park to 8th Avenue NE in Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park. The Park Board also committed to match $500,000 for the project.

The trail will be an extension of existing trails from Nicollet Island to Boom Island, according to project manager Andrew Caddock. It will link Boom Island Park through the former Scherer Bros. site and Sheridan Memorial Park to the BNSF railroad bridge.

The East Bank Trail would fall into plans for RiverFirst, the Park Board’s 20-year project to build neighborhoods and businesses along the northern part of the Mississippi River, as well as the Above The Falls master plan from 2000. Both call for continuous trails along the river.
“It was a great fit for our goals,” Caddock said.

The Park Board plans to have the trail completed by 2015.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced more than $363 million in grants last Thursday to fund highway improvements such as interstate rehabilitation and technology reconstruction across the country. The Federal Highway Administration received over 1,500 requests for the grants from all 50 states. Minnesota was granted over $6.5 million for 11 projects.

The Park Board prepared the grant application last December with Cordelia Pierson, executive director of the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership. They collected 13 letters of support from neighborhood groups, the city, county and several non-profit organizations.

Minneapolis Park Board proposed trail:

6th District Dog Park Informational Meeting on August 22

The Park Board has issued the following notice:


We are pleased to say that we have been able to work through design issues for stormwater management for the Sixth Park District dog park and are back on course with construction documents. We apologize for the delay and realize that you had hoped to already be using the park.

We will be hosting an information meeting August 22 at Lyndale Farmstead Park, 3900 Bryant Ave S, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. If weather permits, we will tour the site of the future dog park. We will also share design modifications that were made to the initial concept to address stormwater, maintenance of the stormwater pond, and parking.

Again, thank you for your patience. Our goal is to have the park completed this year.

M P R B Awarded $1 Million Grant for East Bank Trail

The following item has been distributed by the Park Board:


The Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation and Community and System Preservation program has awarded a $1 million grant to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) toward the design and construction of the East Bank Trail. The completed project will provide 0.75 miles of off-road bicycle and pedestrian trail on the Mississippi River’s east bank from 16th Ave NE, in Above the Falls Regional Park, to 8th Ave NE, in Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park. This will link Boom Island Park through the Scherer Bros site and Sheridan Memorial Park to the BNSF railroad bridge. The trail is anticipated to be complete in 2015.

For additional information regarding this grant, see the news release: on the MPRB website.

A Premature Announcement


The following letter has been sent to the Star Tribune pointing out an error in a recent article. Here’s the link to the article “Flicker Lands Lake Nokomis Gig”:


Dear Editor:

As a co-founder of Park Watch, I have been tracking the Minneapolis Park Board’s Lake Nokomis CAC (Citizen Advisory Committee) which has been reviewing proposals from vendors for a restaurant concession at Lake Nokomis. At last Thursday’s final CAC meeting, the CAC selected Doug Flicker’s concept, Sandcastle, as its first choice and its report will now go before the Park Board on September 5 for review. Knowing that this is the first step in the Park Board’s process, I was surprised to read in today’s Star Tribune that “Doug Flicker is opening a casual, warm-weather-only restaurant at Lake Nokomis.” It is simply not true.

The CAC has selected him from the 3 contenders, but it’s no done deal yet. The CAC report first has to go to a Park Board Committee to be voted on; and then to the full Board. And what those of us who track the Park Board know is that the Park Board has not been granting long term leases. This proposal–unlike other Park Board vendors Tin Fish, Sea Salt and Bread and Pickle–is predicated on a 10-year lease. Leases for Tin Fish, Sea Salt and Bread and Pickle were of a shorter duration.

The only legitimate news now is that Sandcastle was chosen by the CAC and that the CAC report is scheduled to be submitted to a Park Board Committee on September 5. Until the full Park Board approves the CAC’s report and an agreement is signed, such an announcement is premature.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Crown Hydro's Latest Response to F E R C Regarding Termination of Their License


Attached is Crown Hydro’s latest letter to FERC strongly opposing the termination of their license and submitting additional information stating their position.

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch