Let the Park Board do its work
I have to admit I was taken aback by the reaction of residents of Bryn Mawr (“Thinning forest concerns residents near Wirth Park,” Dec. 17-–30 issue) to the Park Board’s efforts at improving cross-country ski trails in this large tract of recreational land. The trails are being laid out in areas where dense thickets of buckthorn are being removed. This is a good thing for the environment and that entire buckthorn-riddled area!
Let the Park Board do its job. They have a professional environmental staff, a professional planning staff and a professional forestry staff. To assert that they are damaging the environment or ruining the “character of Wirth Park” through this process is ludicrous.
One of the Park Board’s mandates is to provide recreational opportunities for residents. In fact, Wirth Park is a regional park, not the specific domain of just “Bryn Mawr.” Without a doubt, this is one of the most underutilized, largest recreational zones in the city. Establishing an improved cross-country ski trail is a good thing. Removing dense thickets of buckthorn to provide the ski trails is a good thing. Making the area more accessible for human activity is a good thing.
If fact, leaving the area unattended and letting the buckthorn grow rampant is a very bad thing. I’ll say it again. Bryn Mawr complainers, let the Park Board do its job!
A plea for Remington
It’s disappointing that City Councilmember Ralph Remington has come out in support of further permit parking in the Uptown area. His desire to “put pressure on businesses in the community” shows shocking naiveté. Uptown’s vitality is at stake, as businesses are already struggling with high rents and low sales. This move could send many more packing. I implore Remington to reconsider his position. He is letting down all his constituents with this antibusiness politicking.
After a long hiatus, the topic of relocating the 35/36th street exit/entrance ramps to 38th street has emerged again in the Dec. 3–16 Journal, related to the proposed BRT (bus rapid transit) station at Lake Street.
Some have opposed the relocation of these ramps to 38th Street, especially some residents of the Kingfield neighborhood who are worried about additional traffic and the less-than-positive impact on the immediate neighborhoods these ramps usually have.
I and others asked why, if the issue is the space between the 31st entrance and 35th exit ramps (a dangerous weave), couldn’t everything be moved to 36th Street?
Wouldn’t it be a lot less disruptive to make that a full interchage instead of moving the whole thing south to a street unaccustomed to highway entrance/exit traffic? The answer at the time was that the 35th Street bridge itself was an obstacle to the routing of ramps up to 36th street, there would not be enough distance between the two bridges.
Since that exchange, though, we have become witnesses to how effectively the highway teams can tear down the bridges that cross 35W.When this project rolls around, why not take that approach with the 35th Street bridge? Replace it sized to support a full 36th Street exchange?
If, and when, the Lake Street project starts, the issue of a 35th Street bridge obstacle could be eliminated, and the scope of the project could be reduced to just Lake through 36th Street instead of tearing things up all the way down to 38th.
Miffed by Walsh
I got about half-way through Jim Walsh’s Dec. 17 musings on how one woman will get a lot of guys laid … and I stopped reading. Was I reading City Pages? No, it really was the SWJ. I stopped reading. All of it. The editor’s letters, the neighborhood news, the crime reports and every bit of the local advertising spent on this issue. All of it. I put the Dec. 17 SWJ into the recycling bin, and it will stay there — and all others in the future. I have read this newspaper since the first days it came off the kitchen table of the publishers and loved it. No more. No more Jim Walsh, who has bounced from City Pages to The Rake to MinnPost to nowhere. No more trash musings on sex ’n the high life, sex ‘n rock ‘n roll, sex. No more Jim Walsh. No more SWJ. Done.
More on buckthorn
If the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board were truly doing its job (as Jake Werner states in his Jan. 14 letter to the editor), it would have responded years ago to the serious threat posed by buckthorn and other invasive species that threaten the woods throughout the region. Instead, having ignored this growing problem for years, the MPRB now uses buckthorn removal as its excuse to subsidize the Loppet ski race. Many acres of Wirth Park are disturbed for months to allow extensive trimming and grooming, so that Minneapolis can host this race for two days every February. Not only buckthorn is removed, but healthy and mature trees and vegetation. With no serious attempt to replant these areas, the Park Board won’t make real progress in fulfilling its state mission to "permanently preserve, protect, maintain, improve, and enhance its natural resources, parkland, and recreational opportunities for current and future generations."
The MPRB’s job is to serve Minneapolis residents, which requires the Park Board commissioners and staff listen to residents. Bryn Mawr residents are rightly concerned about the well being — and indeed the survival — of the South Wirth Woods. Several years ago, in a radical departure from traditional uses of the buffer zone around the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, and without any public input or involvement of MPRB planning staff, the Park Board staff allowed a ski-racing roadway to be bulldozed through this area. Although the Park Board’s own historical records (throughout the garden’s 100-year existence) show that these woods are intended to be a protective buffer zone around the garden, this record was overlooked by the staff. The result was unprecedented and unannounced intrusion of a 25-foot wide swath where footpaths had previously welcomed hikers, birders, snowshoers and traditional cross-country skiers. With no public input, the Loppet continues to cost taxpayers many thousands of dollars that have not been formally approved by the Park Board.
Long recognized as as significant refuge for birds and wildlife, the South Wirth Woods are hardly underutilized. The sustainable uses of this nature preserve focus on environmental education and nature observation, including hiking, bird watching, nature photography, orienteering, drawing and painting, and the identification of trees, wild flowers, and plants. These uses are diminished by recent decisions and actions by the Park Board and its staff.