Monthly Archives: February 2013

Public Hearing on Dean / Cedar Lake Trail Plan

The MPRB has issued the following notice:

Public Hearing Notice

Dean Parkway/Cedar Lake Trail Improvement Project

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Planning Committee will hold a public hearing on a concept plan for proposed trail improvements along Dean Parkway and Cedar Lake on Wednesday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. at MPRB Headquarters, 2117 W. River Rd., Minneapolis.
The resolution before the Planning Committee is to approve the preferred concept plan as recommended by a Community Advisory Committee (CAC). Trail safety, usability/functionality, and tree preservation were the community priorities that guided the CAC’s overall recommendations for trail improvements.

The concept plan is based on community preferences received through extensive outreach, including three public meetings, an open house, and public surveys. Included in the plan are separated bicycle and pedestrian trails between Dean Parkway and Kenilworth Trail as well as safety improvements at key intersections. Missing segments of connecting off-street trails will be added between West Lake of the Isles Parkway and Cedar Lake Parkway. The parking lots on Cedar Lake will be modified and the bicycle trail realigned along the parkway.
You are invited to attend this public hearing where you will have an opportunity to review the plans and share your comments with the Planning Committee.
You can sign up for project updates: . For further information about this and future improvements, visit the project page: on the MPRB website. 

Heads-Up for the February 20, 2013 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.”

The following topics are some agenda highlights:

–Approving a Purchase Agreement for $200,000 in the sale of 2529 13th Avenue South to the Banyan Foundation DBA the Banyan Community

–Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with the Minneapolis Off-Road Cycling Advocates and Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists for Single Track Mountain Bike Trails Projects at Southwest Wirth, Central Wirth and Brownie Lake

–Approving the Project Scope and Project Budget of $9,753,734 for Rehabilitation of the Parade Ice Garden and Energy Upgrades at Other Facilities in the Minneapolis Park System

–Requesting the City Council of the City of Minneapolis to Approve and Request the Board of Estimate and Taxation to Issue and Sell Taxable Bonds in the Amount of $7,000,000 and Tax-Exempt Bonds in the Amount of $2,800,000 for rehabilitation of the Parade ice Garden and Energy Upgrades at Other Facilities in the Minneapolis Park System

–Discussion Items:

–Discussion of Alternative Next Steps with the Phillips Pool and Minneapolis Swims

–Board Direction to Staff on Requested Changes to the Terms and Conditions of the Paradise Cruises Permit

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 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.

View Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board meetings live from 5-9 p.m. on the Minneapolis Government Meeting Channel 79 on Comcast Cable. You may also view live meetings online on the Channel 79 webpage:

Regular meetings are typically retelecast on Channel 79 on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 5 p.m. Telecast schedules are subject to change.

Webcasts of MPRB regular board meetings are posted on the MPRB website two to five business days following each meeting and are available for viewing, along with webcasts for the recent two months, at

Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on two business days prior to meetings.

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

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

Community Input Opportunity on Nokomis Concession Improvements

The Park Board has circulated the following item:

Community Input Opportunity on Concession Area Improvements at Lake Nokomis

The Lake Nokomis Concessions Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will host an open house on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Nokomis Community Center to review and discuss improvements to the concession area at Lake Nokomis.

The improvements are part of the lease agreement: between the new concession, Sandcastle, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board that was approved by the Park Board on Wednesday, Feb. 6. The meeting is open to the public. The Nokomis Community Center is located at 2401 E Minnehaha Parkway, Minneapolis.

The Lake Nokomis Concessions CAC was formed in February 2012 to help determine community and park user preferences for concession services at the park. After soliciting community input and conducting an open, competitive selection process, the CAC recommended Sandcastle Enterprises, a Minneapolis based company owned and operated by restaurateurs Doug Flicker and Amy Greeley to the Park Board. Doug Flicker also owns the critically acclaimed Minneapolis restaurant, Piccolo. Sandcastle will offer fresh, healthy food options to meet diverse tastes with menu items such as fish tacos, sandwich wraps, a variety of salads, and beer and wine.

The improvements to the concession area include an outdoor shelter, new deck and picnic areas, improvements to the concession building, storm water runoff mitigation and possible realignment of trails near the concession area. All are welcome to attend the open house, review the preliminary design work and express suggestions, improvements and concerns to enhance the design. The Lake Nokomis Concessions CAC will present a proposed design for the concession area based on the public comments at the March 20 Planning Committee meeting of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. For more information and updates, please visit .

Re: Privatization at Wirth Park

The following item by Shawne FitzGerald was posted February 7, 2013 on


Eric Roper posted a story on the Wirth Park conflict earlier this week:

The Wirth Park Concept Plan approved by the Board last summer has two cycling components. One is an extension of the existing single track recreational mountain biking trails to the southwest area of the park. The MN Off-Road Cyclists (MOCA) has volunteered to build this 1-plus mile extension after approval by MPRB staff. (Purple line in attached image). MOCA volunteers have already built about 6.5 miles of trail in Wirth. MOCA has not requested any building and has no conflict with either golfers or skiers. See article comments.

The second component would be a new 3-4 mile Cycling Event and Racing Trail to be built in the traditional golf course area, west of the Chalet and along both sides of Bassett Creek. These are the light brown lines in the attached image. For larger views, see Currently, the traditional golf course area is used for golf in summer and winter recreation (skiing, tubing, and snowboarding) in winter. The Cycling Event/Race Trail adds a second summertime use and this is the source of conflict.

I can’t quite envision the Event/Racing Trail. Cyclo-cross, pump track and BMX as well as mountain bike racing was mentioned in CAC documents. I wasn’t the parkwatcher at the CAC meetings (& welcome corrections) but I couldn’t find any need statement in the CAC documents. Why is this facility needed in the Minneapolis and also the Metropolitan regional park system?

The Park Board Commissioners haven’t had a study session or discussion of this topic as far as I know. The Loppet Foundation would like a concession contract to operate the event/racing trail but this has not been decided, of course. MPRB net income (profit) from the event/race trail is projected at $5,000-$6,000 annually for the first decade.

The addition of the event/racing trail requires rearranging holes at the Wirth 18 golf course. (Par 3 golfers would lose their clubhouse and parking lot for the Welcome Center building.) I can’t quite tell from the budget but it looks like the changes would cost the MPRB golf program $5-$6 million. Neither the golf program nor the entire MPRB enterprise operations have this kind of money right now. Last night, the MPRB Admin & Finance Committee approved a $9 million bond sale for rehab and environmental upgrades to the ice arenas – and it was clear that debt payments will be a concern through 2021 when the Neiman Complex bonds are paid off.

The cycle event/race trail issue has more problems. Student teams from the U of M Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management program identified environmental concerns including soil erosion. modification of Bassett Creek, loss of habitat and threats to wildlife. The students suggested a citizen petition for an EAW for a full assessment of environmental impact. The Wirth 18 golfers asked for their analysis.

The Wirth 18 golf course is in the process of being nominated as a contributing historic site in the proposed Grand Rounds Historic District. SHPO, in cooperation with MPRB, is the lead on this. So Wirth 18 is already protected as a historic site until a final determination is made. This may require the MPRB to look at feasible and prudent alternative sites for the cycle/event race trail and the Welcome Center.

Finally, detailed financial planning for the Wirth Park changes have not been completed. The total budget is $21,031,345. The golf courses, including proposed restaurant in Chalet, don’t qualify for state funds like bonds or regional park dollars. Not sure if the Welcome Center (with another restaurant), related parking, and event/cycling trails will either. These items are roughly $13 million. The Loppet Foundation has pledged to raise $3 million. What about the other $10 million? Will city taxpayers be on the hook for this? Either through more borrowing or property tax increases or park services cuts (like closing neighborhood rec centers)?

Last summer, the Park Board resolved: “That prior to proceeding with detailed design of the master plan features that are identified as ‘public-private partnership’ elements, staff is directed to prepare a detailed park development and operations pro-forma that identifies the ability to construct the improvement without a negative MPRB budget impact.” This has not been done. Also, the plan for funding the entire $21 million of Wirth capital costs has not been presented. Before moving forward, and before there is more controversy and division, the MPRB needs to finish the Wirth planning process.

My bias in all this: I’m worried that Corcoran and other neighborhood rec centers will be closed. Rec center activity fees are so high that they are a barrier to young friends with children. Until recently, the MPRB’s traditional fee waiver program was largely ignored even though 1/4 of Minneapolis children live in households with poverty-level incomes or less. The MPRB is taking a fresh look at rec center services and I hope the children of Minneapolis, all of them, will have ready access to those public programs.

If we do nothing for Wirth skiers, they still have 15 miles of trails plus snowmaking capacity (not to mention underutilized x-country sites at Columbia, Gross, and Hiawatha). If we do only the MOCA trails, there will be 8 miles of mountain biking at Wirth. I am tired of special interest lobbyists saying we need “world class” expensive rec facilities and “It’s for the kids!” when in reality, core recreation services to city children have become unaffordable for many and may be eliminated at some sites. So, let’s see the Wirth numbers.

Shawne FitzGerald

Powderhorn Park

At Long Last New Dog Park Opens in Southwest

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the February 4, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:


An off-leash dog area at Lyndale Farmstead Park opened on Jan. 25 so that eager dog owners could get a preview of the new amenity.

Even if only temporary, the opening of the dog park is the culmination of years of debate and discussion. It will close again this spring so work can be completed.

Most of the fencing has been installed and the grading is largely complete. The Park Board still needs to spread granite material for a base, build a concrete entrance, add landscape plantings and finish the filtration system.

A grand opening is scheduled for early summer.

“This opportunity will allow everyone who is eagerly awaiting the new off-leash space to get a sneak preview of what the new park will have to offer,” the Park Board wrote in a press release.

Users will still need to buy a dog park permit if they want to use the new area.

A dog park in Southwest Minneapolis has been years in the making. A plan to build it at Martin Luther King Jr. Park was nixed. Then the Park Board decided to build it at Lyndale Farmstead, despite expensive construction costs that topped $215,000.

Wirth Park and the Loppet Foundation

The following letter from Vida Ditter, a member of the Wirth CAC, was submitted on January 27, 2013, to Park Board Commissioners Fine, Tabb, Wielinkski and Young:



I wrote previously to strongly disagree with the Board’s decision to change the priorities set by the Wirth CAC which had taken some 2 years of collaborative discourse, a lot of learning, information gathering and balancing one good against another as CAC members worked on setting the priorities. It was a blow to have the MPRB ignore the priorities set by the CAC and instead give to the Loppet Foundation all the funds that the legislature had granted to the Park Board for Wirth Park. To my knowledge, and it was researched for the CAC by Park staff, the granting of these funds by the state legislature was given free and clear to MPRB, whether it was oversight that did not allocate the funds for “silent sports” in Wirth Park or whether the oversight was deliberate is not recorded in the minutes of the legislative session.

Now, MPRB has gone even further in disregarding the deliberations of the CAC and made the decision to grant a 20 year lease to the Loppet Foundation of a huge chunk of Wirth Park. On what grounds? To what benefit? With what return to the Park system? With what benefits to the Public? At what cost to the Public?

Rather than reviewing the contract that is being drawn between the Loppet Foundation and MPRB, I returned to the discussions the CAC had about activities in Wirth Park. Please note that I’ve been on all the Wirth CACs over the years.

On the most current Wirth CAC, as we worked on each segment of Wirth Park, MPRB staff appointed several non-CAC folk to work on Study groups that would focus only on the section of Wirth under study. Recommendations from the Study Group were to be brought before the full CAC for consideration and a vote. MPRB staff appointed several folk to the North Study Group. When the Study Group members were introduced to the CAC, I strenuously objected to the choices on the grounds that every single member of the North Study Group was the President or strong advocate of a sports organization – skiing, bicycling, X-sports, etc. I objected that not a single person on the Study Group was chosen from residents from neighborhoods surrounding Wirth Park, that not a single person on the Study Group was chosen to represent the schools that are within a short distance of Wirth, that not a single person was chosen from the current, various users of Wirth (golfers, sledders, the kids, the parents, etc.), that not a single member of the Study Group is a person of colour or a female.

I again strongly objected within the CAC when the North Study Group presented its recommendations. Others on the CAC supported my concerns. Firstly, I objected to the North Study Group’s creation of something they called “silent sports”. This was a concept the North Study Group created and then focused their efforts to promote only silent sport activities. This concept was not something introduced by the Wirth CAC. I objected to how they blithely recommended the demolition of parts of Wirth Park, north of Hwy 55 without regard to what they would offer those users who were being deprived of their sport. I objected to how the sports they were recommending were sports indulged in by those with some degree of wealth and who were mostly white, and although I was assured that each sports organization had an outreach program in schools and supported and coached student teams. But the numbers they coached did not nearly approach the number of public school students who have been taken through Wirth and who were helped to appreciate both conservation and the wonder of the parks in their communities. Nor did their outreach make of their sport a lifetime sport for those who came from less affluent backgrounds. I finally strenuously objected at being coerced to support their recommendations – ‘You’re invited to a private meeting (and used Park Property – the Chalet for their private meeting) where we’ll explain in detail what our recommendations mean”. I beg your pardon, there is a Wirth CAC, our meetings are where your recommendations should be explained and CAC meetings are open to the public. It is amazing how many times in this CAC process, the Loppet Foundation and its supporters have end – run the CAC and its recommendations.

At the end of the CAC process, CAC members set up their priorities. I reviewed my CAC notes to be sure my information is accurate. We talked at the CAC about creating partnerships with public and private entities to get the funds needed for the different Wirth priorities – e.g. MPRB and a store, MPRB and a bank, MPRB and the Loppet, MPRB and grants, MPRB and government or foundations, etc. Please note that the CAC discussions at NO time suggested/recommended MPRB to cede large sections of Wirth Park to the Loppet Foundation. Nor did the CAC recommendation suggest that the Loppet should be permitted to program that large segment of Wirth for the entire variety of users who come to Wirth (they do not have the skills to do this), after all – this is a Regional Park, supposed to serve the larger community, with funding from the State and Met Council in support of that goal.

Giving control of a large segment of Wirth to the Loppet is to give control to a group which has consistently avoided public feedback from the broader community as it has pursued getting its own needs met. The Loppet Foundation’s first foray into Wirth, several years ago, was to hire a private company to create its first trail which abutted the eastern boundary of Eloise Butler. It was only after many complaints from users of the Park and from neighborhood associations, and from the Audubon Society, and from cross country users on how intrusive Loppet trails were that a CAC was set up to determine where the trails should be in south Wirth and to wipe out the worst Loppet trail of the lot.

I would urge the MPRB to rethink its decision to give the Loppet North Wirth – to build, to program, to collect fees, for the benefit of “silent sports”. To do so, would be to abandon the responsibilities of MPRB to the larger public.

Thank you

Vida Y. Ditter

Wirth Park and Bottineau Transitway Update

The following notice has been issued by the Park Board:

Theodore Wirth Park and Bottineau Transitway Update

The community is invited to the following meetings at Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Headquarters Building (2117 West River Road) for the project:

Wednesday, February 27, 6 to 8 p.m., Community Meeting (Board Room, 2nd Floor): This will be an opportunity for the design team and community to share and discuss key information about the park and proposed transitway.

Saturday, March 2, Noon to 2 p.m., Community Open House (Board Room, 2nd Floor): Community members are invited to attend an open house to review and provide input on concepts and ideas developed by designers based on input from the community and agencies involved in the proposed transitway.

Whither Minneapolis' Wirth Park?

The following article by Eric Roper was published in the February 4, 2013 issue of the Star Tribune:


Kelli Garbers, of Minneapolis, had this section of the cross-country ski trail at Theodore Wirth Park to herself on a cold day late last week.

Photo by Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Cross-country skiers and off-road bikers say they need a home. Golfers worry they’re being edged out.

Minneapolis’ largest park is caught in a tug of war as it considers changes to keep up with evolving interests in sports and their competing needs. Golfer frustration that’s been brewing over the potential changes spilled over during a public comment session at a Park Board meeting last month.

Plans include a sports welcome center, a launching area for races and an off-road bike course that would weave through parts of the 759-acre Theodore Wirth Park on the western edge of the city. A separate but related project would relocate the last two holes at Wirth’s 18-hole golf course, partly to accommodate the non-golf activities. Golf rounds at Wirth’s two courses have declined since a peak in 2000.

“It’s a bit of culture shift. It is,” said Bruce Chamberlain, Minneapolis Park Board assistant superintendent. “And it’s because of the changing dynamic of the city and what people want out of recreation.”

The Park Board is preparing to vote on the $6 million project — not including the hole relocation — which is a public-private partnership with the Loppet Foundation. The plans, dubbed the “Silent Sports Center,” would be made possible by $3 million in private funds raised by the Loppet Foundation as well as $1.5 million in state bonding dollars. Chamberlain said a $1.5 million funding gap remains.

The changes come as sports such as mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snow tubing have grown increasingly popular at Wirth. Cross-country ski teams from schools across the area frequently descend on the park for races, and revenue from winter recreation is steadily increasing. The only refuge from the cold is a 1920s-era Swiss-style chalet — used by golfers in the summer — that struggles to accommodate the crush of winter athletes.

But concerns persist over the specifics of the agreement with the Loppet Foundation, an 11-year-old nonprofit best known for its annual City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival, which took place over the weekend. The organization also runs a number of youth outdoor programs.

Vote on contract delayed

The Park Board was poised to vote on the agreement in January but scuttled it until late February amid concerns over a contract that Commissioner Liz Wielinski called “craptastic” because it lacked key details. Golfers say they didn’t have enough input in the plan and object to a provision allowing the Loppet Foundation to start collecting fees for the smaller Par 3 golf course — since the center will replace that course’s clubhouse.

“To put completely inexperienced people from the Loppet Foundation in charge of that kind of process, when they have a motive to make sure that it fails, is completely wrong,” said Robert Dwyer, who represents a group called Friends of the Theodore Wirth Par 3. “It’s like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.”

Dwyer notes that the Loppet Foundation once proposed essentially eliminating the Par 3 course, which serves a “wider variety of people,” by moving it to the 18-hole course. Current plans do not include changes to the Par 3 course.

Paul Kieffer, who represents golfers at the 18-hole course, said the new center shouldn’t move forward until there is a firm plan for the 17th and 18th holes, which he adds are among the first nine holes of public golf in Minnesota. At least one of the holes was already in need of improvements because it had fallen into disrepair.

“There should be plans in place for both,” Kieffer said. “We just feel golf is being left behind. And golfers have supported Theodore Wirth with hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last couple of decades alone.”

Clash of interests

Ron Edwards, a local community activist who has played golf at the Par 3 since it was built in the 1960s, has sensed an underlying goal to eventually eliminate both courses.

“I know what their strategy is,” Edwards said. “And that strategy is to do as much as they can to discourage a sense of ‘golf-dom,’ if you will.”

At the Park Board’s Jan. 16 meeting, however, most acknowledged the need to accommodate the rush of new athletes. John Munger, who heads the Loppet Foundation, notes that golfers rarely converge in large numbers because of staggered tee times.

“With the high school [cross-country] league, every afternoon that’s what happens all winter,” Munger said. “All of a sudden at 3:30 there’s 600 to 800 kids converging on the building at one time. And it’s not really made for that type of use.”

Chamberlain said everything is “back on the table” following the Jan. 16 meeting. A revised agreement is expected to return to the Park Board Feb. 20.

Evan Jones, head Nordic ski coach at Breck School, often has to park his 50-person team in the bus or bring them to the crowded second-floor of the chalet during long down times.

“There’s so many events that we do and so many times that we’re there [that] having an indoor facility … would really benefit us and the sport a lot,” Jones said.

Michael Baker, who runs the chalet, said his staff sometimes spends several hours cleaning the floors when athletics converge with private functions, like wedding parties.

“You have this great cross-country ski event that’s been up there,” Baker said. “And now I’ve got a bride the next day using that same facility.”

Dean and West Cedar Lake Parkway Trail C A C Meeting

The Park Board has issued the following notice:

Dean and W. Cedar Lake Parkway Trail Improvement Community Advisory Committee Meeting

The Third meeting of the Dean Parkway, W Cedar Lake Trail Improvement Community Advisory Committee will be on February 12, 2013, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Kenwood Park Community Center, 2101 W. Franklin Ave.  All are welcome to attend; time will be set aside for public comment.

For further information about the project, visit the project web page:

Map and Directions:*-,+mn+55405&country=us