Cedar Lake South Beach set to benefit from development fees

Cedar Lake South Beach at 3400 Cedar Lake Parkway.
Cedar Lake South Beach at 3400 Cedar Lake Parkway.

Money has started pouring in from new development fees to pay for park enhancements, and Cedar-Isles-Dean is among the first neighborhoods to benefit.

The neighborhood association is recommending that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board invest $350,000 generated from development fees into Cedar Lake South Beach at 3400 Cedar Lake Parkway. The money would help pay for improvements including ADA-accessible ramps, a new floating launch dock, canoe racks, picnic tables and widened bike and pedestrian paths.

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Minneapolis’ parkland dedication ordinance went into effect in 2014 and requires that new development projects either dedicate land for parks or pay a fee to the Park Board. The Park Board can use the money for land acquisition or park development within a half-mile of the project. The fee is $1,521 per residential unit or $202 per employee in a new commercial or industrial project.

The fees are starting to add up. While most neighborhoods in Southwest have a few thousand dollars available, some neighborhoods have significantly more to spend. East Isles has more than $91,000, Whittier has more than $132,000, Lyndale has more than $39,000, Linden Hills has nearly $55,000, and Windom has more than $21,000. Cedar-Isles-Dean, home to new projects like the Foundry and The Lakes Residences on West Lake Street, has generated more than $375,000 in park dedication fees.

“Development is booming right now,” said Adam Regn Arvidson, the Park Board’s director of strategic planning. “That’s exciting, and it’s good to see these amounts coming in. … When new residents are moving in to the city, we should therefore increase the amount of park amenities we have in the city.”

The Park Board updates an interactive map each month showing dedication fee dollars available by neighborhood, along with completed projects.

Completed projects include expanded playgrounds in the Bryant and Seward neighborhoods, a public connection (or woonerf) between 2nd Street and the Mississippi River, and additional play amenities at a wading pool in Near North.

The park dedication fees can’t be used to fix or maintain existing parks. Regn Arvidson said the philosophy behind the regulation is to ensure that parks keep pace with the population — more swings for more kids, for example. He said accepted case law also dictates how fees can be spent.

In Cedar-Isles-Dean, drawings for beach improvements date back 20 years. The Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association (CIDNA) allocated $40,000 in 2014 to fund a beach plan and redesign. Plans are now on the shelf, and the goals for a revitalized South Beach include safe and ADA-compliant access for pedestrians, cyclists, canoers and kayakers as well as a more stable hillside and better aesthetics.

“It was already teed up and ready to go, there was just no money for it,” said CIDNA Chair Craig Westgate.

The parkland dedication fees won’t cover the entire project, however. The neighborhood association would chip in $75,000, and an anonymous donor would fund the gap to reach the project’s $675,000 budget.

Regn Arvidson said the Park Board has the final say over how the money is spent as part of its capital improvement budget.

“Though park dedication fees are originated and allocated according to neighborhood boundaries, Park Board commissioners determine how to spend it,” Regn Arvidson said.

He said neighborhood groups can provide input on how to spend the funds, however.

“Especially when there are significant amounts of money within neighborhood boundaries, then we do look to neighborhoods,” he said.

East Isles, which has more than $91,000 available, is beginning conversations about the neighborhood’s park priorities.

“Development is going to happen,” Westgate said. “As you increase people, you increase hopefully park usage. … It will be interesting to see what this looks like in five years.”

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