Many Construction Projects Make Mess, But Bring Upgrades To Theodore Wirth

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the October 10, 2013 issue of the Southwest Journal:

Many construction projects make mess, but bring upgrades to Theodore Wirth

A number of ongoing construction projects at Theodore Wirth Park have some sections of its 759 acres looking a little rough.

More than a mile of new mountain biking trails are being constructed near the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Theodore Wirth Parkway. These trails are replacing unsanctioned paths that have developed over the years. For the first time MPRB is using professional contractors to build mountain biking trails, and they have been using excavators to clear room and shape the trails.

Workers from Schoenbauer Consulting and Trail Source have collaborated with MPRB staff and volunteers from Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists Association (MOCA) to come up with the trail’s final design. Volunteers from MOCA were instrumental in building the original mountain biking trails that opened at Theodore Wirth in 2005.

A grand opening for the new trails has not been scheduled, but a “soft opening” is planned for mid-Oct. In the coming years there are tentative plans to build even more mountain biking trails where holes 17 and 18 of the golf course are currently.

To the north, in the Back 40 section of the park, crews are working on reconstructing hiking paths that have had problems with moisture and erosion.

“There’s a lot of trails in the Back 40 area that were never designed and they go straight down the hill. These are problematic from an environmental perspective because they’re very unstable and cause a lot of erosion,” said Andrea Weber, a MPRB project manager.

Park staff has been shutting down and replanting the unsanctioned trails.

After a few hiccups in the construction process, including a broken sewer main that caused minor flooding, the grand opening of the renovated Wirth Pavilion will be on Sunday, Oct. 27, 1-3 p.m.

The original pavilion was built in 1930 with the capacity for 125 people. A small kitchen, catering prep area, and two classrooms were also renovated as part of the project.

MPRB staff says a project to prevent and clean up erosion on Bassett Creek will probably be delayed due to the federal government shutdown. An application for a project permit was submitted two months ago, but the US Army Corps of Engineers has a huge backlog due to the sequester, and now they are not processing any permits due to the shutdown. Work was likely to begin this winter, but now that will probably be pushed back to next fall.