Monthly Archives: June 2013

45-day comment period on above the falls plan

The Park Board has issued the following item:

ABOVE THE FALLS 45-DAY COMMENT PERIOD

As of June 2013, the draft Regional Park plan is available for public review and comment. A formal 45-day comment period started on June 19. Following the comment period, a public hearing will be held.

For more information, please visit the project page: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1373

CONTACT:
Andrew Caddock, Project Manager

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

612-230-6470

acaddock@minneapolisparks.org

Picture a Park Photo contest returns

The following item has been issued by the MPRB:

2013 Picture a Park Photo Contest

The Picture a Park Photo Contest http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1227 returns for its 4th year! Photos from any time of year may be submitted between May 6 and September 2, 2013 at http://www.natcam.com. Photographs will be judged on impact, image quality, composition and storytelling.

The Picture a Park Photo Contest is designed to highlight the year-round beauty, events and fun throughout Minneapolis’ parks. Winners can receive a National Camera gift card, photo enlargement, parking permit, park pass or 2014 calendar featuring winning photos. See details: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/documents/parks/photo/PictureParkPhotoContestGuidelines.pdf

HEADS-UP FOR THE JUNE 19, 2013 PARK BOARD MEETING

HEADS-UP FOR THE JUNE 19, 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.”

6:30 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING. Elliot Park Athletic Field Master Plan Approval.

The following topics are some of the agenda highlights:

–Authorizing the Superintendent to Submit, in Priority Order, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden ($8.5 Million), 26th Avenue North ($1.5 Million), Hall’s Island ($10 Million) and Plymouth Avenue Bridge ($5 Million) for a Total of $25 Million to Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) for the 2014 State of Minnesota (State) Capital Budget

–Authorizing the Start of a 45-Day Public Comment Period for the Draft Above the Falls Regional Park Master Plan as Required by the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission

–Accepting Non-Appointed Citizen Advisory Committee Recommendations and Approving Plans for the Elliot Park Athletic Field and Approving Plans for the Elliot Park Athletic Field

–Authorizing the Formation and Charge of an Appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the West River Parkway/James I. Rice Parkway Trail Improvement Project

–Adopting the Policy Governing Overnight Use in the Park System

–Entering into an Agency Agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for Completion of Dean Parkway Trail Improvements and Appointing the Commissioner of Transportation as Agent of the Board to Accept Federal Aid Funds for the Project

–Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with Minneapolis Swims for Development and Fundraising Related to the Proposed Phillips Community Center Aquatic Facility and Directing Staff to Prepare a Financial and Use Proposal to Minneapolis s Public Schools for the Facility

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, June 19, 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: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/tv/79

Regular meetings are typically re-telecast 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 http://www.minneapolisparks.org.

Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on http://www.minneapolisparks.org two business days prior to meetings.

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

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

FREE MUSIC AND MOVIES IN MINNEAPOLIS PARKS

The following information has been distributed by the MPRB:
 
FREE MUSIC AND MOVIES IN MINNEAPOLIS PARKS
 
Beginning the end of May, the MPRB will be hosting nightly free outdoor concerts and movies in Minneapolis parks this summer as part of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s (MPRB) Music and Movies in the Parks series: http://www.mplsmusicandmovies.com/

There are over 250 events to select from.  Check out the roster and choose the events you want to enjoy. 

Turf war brews over park renovation plans in north Mpls.

The following item was aired on KARE-TV on June 11, 2013:

Turf war brews over park renovation plans in north Mpls.

NORTH MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Two parks in north Minneapolis will soon get new multi-purpose fields, but not all neighbors see the improvement as a win.

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board says the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation will spearhead a more than $2 million makeover for the Farview and North Commons parks ball fields.

“The need is there. I think the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation saw that and looked at the research we had done, the potential for increasing teams and said, ‘Hey, this is a good fit,'” said Cliff Swenson, a Director of Design and Project Management with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

The Ripken Foundation will turn Farview Park into a replica of the old Nicollet baseball field, which is a $1.5 million dollar improvement. North Commons’ softball diamond will be transformed with $600,000 in improvements. Both will have turf, and that’s why some neighbors say they stand to lose.

“We don’t want the artificial turf. We don’t want the gates and fences,” said David Luce, who lives near Farview park and is worried gates and fences will be locked and will shut neighbors out.

Luce is also concerned about the loss of neighborhood space and says despite a petition with nearly 100 signatures, the Park Board approved the project even when opponents protested at every public hearing.

“Too bad we are going to do it anyway because it’s for the kids,” said Richard Hammett, another neighbor in opposition.

Minneapolis Park & Recreation says gates will not lock neighbors out unless vandalism occurs. It also says the synthetic turf has practical purpose and can hold more wear and tear than grass can. With about 5,000 youth playing in the park board programs on about 400 outdoor athletic fields, the staff points to its success at other areas, such as the East Phillips and Curry parks.

“Synthetic gives us the opportunity to have lots of play,” said Swenson. “Our fields get really used we want that, but with natural turf, it’s hard to keep good quality turf growing.”

“We’ve always had to play in the mud. It’s something that is much needed in our community,” said Mike Tate, a long-time North Minneapolis youth football coach.

Tate says debate over the reconstructed fields should not be about opposing teams.  He hopes instead for a uniting force.

“It allows for the Latinos, African Americans and Asians to gather on fields to learn soccer, kickball baseball and tee ball,” Tate said.

The Ripken Foundation cited a project backed by research, saying statistics show the community surrounding Farview Park has a childhood poverty rate over 41 percent for children between 0 and 17 years old.  It says at North Commons Park, the rate ranges from 26 to 40 percent.

“With some of the highest childhood poverty rates in the city, the need is high for access to safe and positive facilities, afterschool programs and mentors or coaches who care about their well-being and success,” The Ripken Foundation said in a written statement.

The Pohlad Family Foundation, Phillips Family Foundation and Minnesota Twins Community Fund also made donations to the project.

Construction will begin this summer and is expected to take four to six months. The Park Board says community members will assist in building the new facilities.

Opponents still protest the project.

“We want to keep access to our beautiful historic open multi-purpose field and not have it be restricted. We want it open for everyone to use and enjoy actively passively aesthetically, just like the folks in south Minneapolis or in the suburbs,” said Luce.

You can learn more about the synthetic turf or the progress of the field construction improvements http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1384 on the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board webpage.

Does Lake Street near Calhoun need a green bridge?

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the June 11, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:

Does Lake Street near Calhoun need a green bridge?

A drawing of what a Lake Street Lid might look like–Minneapolis Park Board

Lake Street near Lake Calhoun is the busiest county road in Hennepin County, with 39,300 vehicles zipping through daily. The Chain of Lakes is the busiest park in the Twin Cities, with 5.1 million annual visitors.

The Minneapolis Park Board is trying to find a way http://www.southwestjournal.com/news-feed/news/parks-update-vision-includes-land-bridge-over-lake-street-near-calhoun to make it safer at Lake Street, where those two heavy uses intersect as bicyclists and pedestrians navigate heavy traffic.
 
The largest idea is what Assistant Superintendent of Planning Bruce Chamberlain calls the Lake Street Lid; a plan to sink Lake Street below ground level and build a grassy bridge over the top.
 
He has presented the Park Board with an idea of spending $200,000 to $250,000 to conduct a feasibility study to find out how much it would cost to put a lid on Lake Street, as well as how to go about engineering such an idea.
 
The Park Board doesn’t have money budgeted for such a study, so it’s asking Hennepin County, the city of Minneapolis and neighborhood groups to chip in.

While the study is supposed to provide financial details, Chamberlain, at a June 6 Park Board meeting, gave a very rough indicator of the project costs, saying a lid “might cost anywhere from $15 million to $40 million. I am just throwing out numbers because we don’t really know, but it’s a very expensive endeavor.”

Chamberlain presented three options for a Lake Street lid, one at 150 feet long, one at 300 feet and one at 1,200 feet.
 
Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman said she’s had informal conversations with the Park Board about helping fund the study, but no formal request has been made.

Dorman took a walking tour of the area with neighbors and said a project to put a bridge over the street has merit.
 
“I personally, and staff here as well, think conceptually it has merit. It’s obviously a big project, but it totally makes sense to separate pedestrians and bikes and create this access between the neighborhoods and the lake,” Dorfman said.
 
Some Park Board members were cool to the idea of spending Park Board staff time and political capital on the project.
 
Jon Olson, for instance, said the Park Board has already adopted the RiverFirst Initiative, which includes a land bridge over I-94 connecting North Minneapolis to the Mississippi River.
 
He told fellow commissioners he won’t support a Lake Street Lid project until staff does a feasibility study on the land bridge over I-94 and puts it on its bonding requests at the state Legislature.
 
Commissioners Scott Vreeland and John Erwin said they’re concerned the Park Board’s planning staff is already overworked.

Others, however, say that with 39,300 daily vehicle trips along the stretch, neighbors and park users deserve a reprieve.
 
“Lake Street is frankly a near highway. It’s not exactly (I-)94, but it looks like it,” said Park Board Commissioner Bob Fine, who was elected at-large but lives in Southwest.
 
According to a Hennepin County traffic count map, that stretch of Lake Street is the busiest non-freeway in the city of Minneapolis. Traffic is heavier than well traveled arterials like Hiawatha Avenue (38,000 daily vehicles); South Hennepin Avenue (19,800) and Washington Avenue in downtown (29,200).
 
Another major issue might be drainage problems in the area. Just north of Lake Street, on the east side of Dean Parkway, water doesn’t drain efficiently near the Calhoun Beach Club (this reporter used to live nearby and one weekend left his car parked on the east side of Dean Parkway over the weekend. When he returned, he discovered his car had been submerged in water all the way to the top of the engine. He junked the vehicle.)

City Council Member Meg Tuthill said pedestrian and bicycle crossings in the area are a concern, but she’s reluctant to sign off an idea to dig down and make Lake Street deeper.
 
Nearby luxury apartment building 1800 Knox ruptured the groundwater table http://www.southwestjournal.com/news/news/luxury-apartment-owners-face-costly-groundwater-problem and is now pumping 100 million gallons of groundwater a year into the lagoon between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles.
 
“I would have to be really convinced environmentally that this would work,” Tuthill said. 
 

Star Trib Editorial: A well – Deserved award for Minneapolis parks

The following Star Tribune editorial was published in the June 9, 2013 issue:

A well-deserved award for Minneapolis parks

National honor highlights importance of urban open space.

Photo by Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

The longtime logo of the city of Minneapolis http://www.startribune.com/topics/places/minneapolis.html sports a small sailboat with the caption “Minneapolis — City of Lakes.” Perhaps now, the city’s signs and website should read “City of Lakes and Parks.”

Last week, the city received a well-deserved national honor http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/210246571.html for its extraordinary park system. The Trust for Public Land called Minneapolis and the Twin Cities the best big city for public parks. Coming in second, third and fourth were New York, Boston and Sacramento.

Minneapolis got high marks in several categories, including public investment, size, services and park access. Judges from the trust said that 94 percent of Minneapolis residents live within 10 minutes of a park, making green space readily available for all citizens to enjoy. That’s a huge asset in an urban setting; as American big cities grew, they became known as “concrete jungles’’ for a reason.

But as anyone who tries to park at popular parks on great summer days knows, it’s not only Minneapolis residents who enjoy the city’s wonderful open spaces. Lovely city parks are an incredible regional asset as well — folks come from all over the metro area to stroll, run or bike along scenic paths and greenways in the city. It lifts spirits and soothes souls to maintain that connection to nature while playing, swimming, exercising or simply stretching out on a blanket in the sun.

Kudos to some of the city’s founding fathers, who believed in maintaining beautiful expanses of nature for future generations and designed Minneapolis accordingly. And the city and park board deserve credit for building on and maintaining that legacy.

Minneapolis has just over 6,700 acres of land and water within its parks, including 197 playgrounds, gardens, golf courses and other facilities and 47 neighborhood rec centers. All that costs just more than $200 per resident in annual tax revenue — an excellent bargain for the hours of outdoor enjoyment the parks bring.

Congratulations to the city, the Park Board and citizens for supporting and maintaining our No. 1, nationally acclaimed, city park system.

MINNEAPOLIS RANKED NATION'S BEST PARK SYSTEM ON TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND'S 2013 PARKSCORE® INDEX

The following MRPB Press Release was issued on June 05, 2013:

MINNEAPOLIS RANKED NATION’S BEST PARK SYSTEM ON TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND’S 2013 PARKSCORE® INDEX

Minneapolis Is First to Earn Perfect “5 Bench” Score as Park System Bumps Defending Champ San Francisco from Top Spot

Minneapolis earned the first-ever “five park bench” rating on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index, finishing first among the 50 U.S. largest U.S. cities.

Minneapolis scored well on all ParkScore rating factors, with especially high marks for park accessibility and park system investment. The ParkScore index rates city park systems on a scale of zero to five park benches.

“You can’t have a great city without great parks,” said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land. “Parks bring neighbors together and help create a sense of community. They give kids and parents a place to play, walk around, and just relax and experience nature. That’s why we believe that cities with great park systems tend to be healthier and have lower rates of obesity.”

ParkScore ratings are based equally on three factors: Park access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (approximately ½-mile); Park size, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and Services and investment, which combines the number of playgrounds per 10,000 city residents and per capita park spending.

With 94 percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park or trail, Minneapolis received high marks for park accessibility. The city also ranked highly for park investment, with per capita spending exceeded only by San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, and Las Vegas.

Minneapolis was included in the 2013 ParkScore index after the rating system expanded to the 50 largest U.S. cities, up from the 40 largest last year. Minneapolis is the 48th largest U.S. city, according to the Census Bureau. While St. Paul (66th largest) was not rated by ParkScore, Trust for Public Land analysts determined that if the two cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul were evaluated as a single municipality, together they would have scored first on the ParkScore index.

“In Minnesota, safe, attractive, and accessible outdoor spaces are key to our much-valued quality of life. In our cities, we rely upon our parks for individual recreation, family outings, and community activities. I congratulate Minneapolis upon receiving this national recognition for providing our country’s best park system,” said Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.

“We’re thrilled to receive this prestigious honor from The Trust for Public Land. It’s a wonderful tribute to all the hard work we’ve put into the park system for 130 years. But I want to make clear to the people of Minneapolis and the Twin Cities region that we’re not done yet. We are committed to opening new public green spaces, improving parks that already exist and holding on to our #1 ranking for many years to come,” said Jayne Miller, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

“The Trust for Public Land has big plans in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We have been working in Minneapolis to support a strong vision for downtown parks. We’re also embarking on a Green Line Parks & Commons initiative, alongside the new light-rail line, that will operate between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. The Trust for Public Land is also working closely with city officials and community leaders to create a 12.7 acre park with an urban demonstration farm in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood. We expect all of these initiatives to spur even more park development and enhance quality of life for children, families, workers and visitors in Minneapolis and St. Paul,” said Susan Schmidt, State Director for The Trust for Public Land.

ParkScore uses advanced GIS (geographic information system) computer mapping technology to create digital maps evaluating park accessibility, making it the most realistic assessment system available. Instead of simply measuring distance to a local park, ParkScore’s GIS technology takes into account the location of park entrances and physical obstacles to access. For example, if residents are separated from a nearby park by a major highway, ParkScore does not count the park as accessible to those residents (unless there is a bridge, underpass, or easy access point across the highway).

In addition to the at-a-glance park bench summary rating, ParkScore features an in-depth website that local leaders can use as a roadmap to guide park improvement efforts. The website, http://parkscore.tpl.org, provides extensive data and analysis that pinpoints the neighborhoods where parks are needed most critically. The website includes interactive maps of each ParkScore city that allow users to zoom in and study park access on a block-by-block basis. The website allows users to browse detailed information about each public park in the 50 ParkScore cities and to view local obesity rates compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The website is free and open to the public. “Physical inactivity is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic and a risk factor for many serious and preventable chronic diseases,” said William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, a pediatrician who recently served as Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Improving access to places to play is a proven strategy for increasing activity that all municipal leaders should embrace. Parks improve health and prevent disease,” Dietz said.

According to The Trust for Public Land, the 10 highest-ranking city park systems in the United States are:

1. Minneapolis = 5.0 park benches

2. New York = 4.5 park benches

3. Boston (tie) = 4.0 park benches

3. Sacramento (tie) = 4.0 park benches

3. San Francisco (tie) = 4.0 park benches

6. Washington, DC = 4.0 park benches

7. Portland = 4.0 park benches

8. Virginia Beach = 4.0 park benches

9. San Diego = 4.0 park benches

10. Seattle = 4.0 park benches

The 13 lowest-ranking city park systems are:

38. Houston (tie) = 2.0 park benches

38. Miami (tie) = 2.0 park benches

38. Nashville (tie) = 2.0 park benches

38. Tucson (tie) = 2.0 park benches

42. Memphis = 1.5 park benches

43. Oklahoma City = 1.5 park benches

44. Jacksonville (tie) = 1.5 park benches

44. San Antonio (tie) = 1.5 park benches

46. Mesa, AZ = 1.5 park benches

47. Indianapolis (tie) = 1.0 park benches

47. Charlotte (tie) = 1.0 park benches

49. Louisville = 1.0 park benches

50. Fresno = 1.0 park benches

For more information about ParkScore, visit http://parkscore.tpl.org and join the discussion on Twitter @TPL_org #ParkScore.

About The Trust for Public Land

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at http://parkscore.tpl.org.

Heads-Up for the June 5, 2013 Park Board Meeting

HEADS-UP FOR THE JUNE 5, 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 of the agenda highlights:

–Approving Change Order No. 5 with CM Construction, Contract #36092, for Rehabilitation of the Pavilion in Theodore Wirth Regional Park in the Amount of $147,641 for a New Contract Total of $1,038,990

–Supporting the Development of the Mississippi River Trail (U.S. Bicycle Route 45)

–Accepting the Non-Appointed CAC Recommendations for Marshall Terrace Park Playground and Approving Concept #1 from Flagship Recreation Landscape Structures for the Age 2-5 Play Area, and Concept #2 from Flagship Recreation/Landscape Structures for the Age 5-12 Play Area

–Approving the Covenants and Agreement with Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation for Field Renovations at Farview and North Commons Parks

–Awarding a Construction Contract to LS Black Constructors, in the Amount of $4,587,000 for the Construction of a Natural Swimming Pool at Webber Park, O.P. No 7776, Pending Approval by City of Minneapolis Purchasing & Procurement and Civil Rights Departments…

–Discussion of Possible 2014 State Bonding Requests

–Adopting the Policy Governing Overnight Use in the Park System

–Entering into an Agency Agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for Completion of Dean Parkway Trail Improvements and Appointing the Commissioner of Transportation as Agent of the Board to Accept Federal Aid Funds for the Project

–Approving a Memorandum of Understanding with Minneapolis Swims for Development and Fundraising Related to the Proposed Phillips Community Center Aquatic Facility and Directing Staff to Prepare a Financial and Use Proposal to Minneapolis s Public Schools for the Facility

–Presentation of Cork and Sand Infill for Artificial Turf

–North Lake Calhoun/South Lake of the Isles Charrette Outcomes and Next Steps

The complete agenda, with staff reports, for the MPRB Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 is at http://minneapolisparksmn.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx

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: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/tv/79

Regular meetings are typically re-telecast 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 http://www.minneapolisparks.org.

Board meeting agendas and related information are posted on http://www.minneapolisparks.org two business days prior to meetings.

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

Arlene Fried

Co-founder of Park Watch

http://www.mplsparkwatch.org