Nokomis CAC Member Critiques Plan Changes

The following letter was sent to Park Board commissioners on December 3, 2013 by Nokomis CAC member Cheryl Luger.  Some additional comments following the body of the letter have been omitted.

Public Hearing: Nokomis concession stand and committee action resolution

Dear Commissioners :

27′ setbacks on park land for private enterprise ?

I have finished reviewing the plans presented for the concession stand received a few days before the thanksgiving holiday.

What has emerged is a blue print giving the perception of a private club that encroaches on public land with a beach guard rail.

It may establish  psychological barriers to entry and may separate those who use the area from those who feel they cannot or should not access the area..

I honestly believe this was not the intention of planning staff, Sandcastle or its chosen designer but a case of enthusiastic design.

Action requested :

I respectfully request the committee and the board return these plans for revision…revision that:
1) As stewards of the parks reflects the wishes of all of its residents,
2) Does not lead to a perception of ‘private’ spaces financed with public dollars, and
3) Best utilizes the limited resources (local and legacy) available from the taxpayers.

During the Lake Harriet site plan discussions, the Board spent much time and energy visiting the area and ensuring that the space was within reasonable design and legal  parameters. Failure to apply similar strict criteria at Nokomis establishes precedents for the future.

Providing these amenities enhances the park experience for all residents.  A positive feature is a covered area protected from the elements.

There is much excitement about this (as my WWII vet father used to say, government does some things well but food prep isn’t one of them). But analysis of this type of project is not about creating ‘the most exciting’ project, but also includes weighing the concept against the cost to park sovereignty, equity , financial and opportunity costs.

This project is not meant to be a design by  FACE  BOOK  Supporters.  That exuberance  encourages the concept of this amenity, but does not contribute to the wider and greater dialogue of unintended consequences or thoroughly vetting the proposal and its consequences to the park board and residents

…. or the stewardship of the legacy funding.

One wonders how the state Lessard Legacy funding committee might feel about this project and, more importantly, the process employed.

For those of you who may not have the time to follow the many plans and shifts, I have provided links below.

The current state of the design and site plan does not reflect the February open house presentation linked below.  The foot print is greatly expanded and infringes on parkland.   The Park Board documents state the resolution reflects the concerns expressed by residents (link below).  However it fails to address many basic concerns.

The easiest way to compare how this project has morphed is to view the aerials from the February meeting and compare them with the current December site plan.  The extent of the February impacted area has not only increased but has crept steadily south and east of the current location into public land.

Accommodation and change are  necessary to maintain a vibrant park system, but consideration must be given to actions creating a ‘slippery slope’.  In many ways, commissioners are like library trustees and should remain vigilant against incursions to its mission from private, nonprofit and competing government entities.

I apologize for the short notice of this response but given the holiday and amount of past data to view, didn’t give me much time to draft a response.


Cheryl Luger
Park District 5 and independent park governance advocate

(ain’t as fast as I used to be before medical stuff… thanks for understanding !)

Resolution proposal and link to on line comments:
Comparison of site plans

Plan concepts as of 11/22/13
Patio and covered seating perspective views:

Site plan:

Pavillion plan (furniture and lighting):

Aerials on site plan proposals February open house.
Site plan, seating proposals presented at February open house:

February open house concerns (a number remain unaddressed):

Dec. 4 resolution (under V 2) includes tax funding source up to $273K from state legacy regional parks and trails fund.  approx. $130K for this part: