Letters to the editor

Critical of proposed dog park sites

I read with astonishment Park Board President John Erwin’s letter regarding “dog park issues.”

How on the one hand can Erwin say that the Park Board will “identify an acceptable site with minimal or no adverse environmental impact” and on the other, endorse two sites next to Roberts Bird Sanctuary that clearly pose a threat to the surrounding environment? He blatantly misrepresents one of those sites as a “parking lot” that would be “greened” by conversion to a dog park, when the photograph on the Park Board website shows that more than half of it is forest and wetland. Further, showing no understanding of wildlife habitat, Erwin cites the trees that the Park Board will be planting in city streets (great, of course) as if that compensates for damaging one of the few spots in the cities with an intact woodland and an understory critical for many types of birds.  

The truth is that rather than “greened” by converting sites near Roberts Bird Sanctuary to a dog park, this habitat will be heavily impacted by accumulated dog waste draining into it. If you have any doubt that dog waste will accumulate, visit the Isles Dog Park! Sadly, many owners do not clean up after their dogs. Moreover, there is no way to clean up urine. I say this as a dog owner, heavy Isles Dog Park user, and proponent of dog parks, myself.

Given how the Park Board bungled the MLK site proposal, I suppose it is desperate to get something established. But instead of trying to sway public opinion, through misrepresentation, in favor of these inappropriate sites, the Board should better spend its time properly managing the existing dog parks and let the Citizen Advisory Committee choose something reasonable.

— Kit Hansen
Resident, 6th Park District, CARAG

Letters to the editor

Thanks for schools coverage

Thank you for honoring the Teacher of the Year nominees and featuring them with a short article and picture. Being nominated myself just made my year and your interest made it all the more special. Thank you for covering the school news so well.

— Patricia Kelly

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More on LEED

I read with interest your article on LEED (green) buildings. There is, however, another side to these structures, and that is the context in which they are built and the esthetics with which they are built. For example, there is one just down the street from me that replaces an attractive older home that afforded sunlight for the neighbor to the north. The new building thrusts a tall, bare, plain, brown wall so close to the property line that the neighbor now gets no sunlight at all and looks out at blankness.

It’s great to build an energy-efficient home, but it seems narrow-minded and against the whole philosophy of the LEED movement to build green for oneself only and not take into account the greenness (solar gain and light) of neighbors. Doing so seems to contradict the goals of the movement.

— Carrie Bassett, Linden Hills

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Missed the mark on Lowbrow review

Full disclosure, I own the building that The Lowbrow resides and I am a journalism major graduate of Boston University.

I must say that Carla Waldemar’s review of The Lowbrow was not only unjust, but a slap in the face of journalists who are still trying to stick to “Strunk and White” ethics. (I am sure someone is going to need to explain this reference to Waldemar.) Her review felt like one of those pieces written about people that “don’t” about people that “do.”

I do not know what made me laugh at her review more. I think it was the dessert review that she simply rated as “untasted.” Really, you are the one passing judgment here — say something.

In any case, for The Southwest Journal to put out such a negative review on a new restraunt that is consistently very busy, opened in the very worse economic climate of America, is the passion of two local individuals and supports so may local farmers and crafts people is to me one of the most offensive editorial decisions I have ever noticed.

You should be ashamed.

— John Barber, Kingfield

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Dogs and birds can get along

Concerns expressed in recent weeks in the Southwest Journal letters to the editor about the impact of a dog park near Lake Harriet are unfounded. Get real folks!

I speak as an avid birder, a retired naturalist, a life-long Audubon member and a 37 year resident of Southwest.

1. Presently, hundreds of dogs and their owners walk around Lake Harriet each day along with bikers and rollerbladers. Minneapolis ordinance requires dog owners to pick up their dog’s waste, whether along a sidewalk or within a dog park. I’ve observed that dog owners who use dog parks are some of the most responsible folks in this regard.

2. Dogs who run free and play at dog parks are not territorial, because this is not their home territory. Many people who walk their dogs at the Mississippi River dog park do so for the serenity of the place, as I do.

3. The proposed dog park site called “Lyndale Park Parking Lot Area” is surrounded by trees and is not very visible to people in the Peace Garden, Rose Garden and Bird Sanctuary. One half of this site is paved, having been used recently by Park maintenance vehicles. This is hardly a pristine natural area now.

4. As for the potential effects on birds, its important to remember the size and scope of the proposed dog park. A dog park less than 1 acre in size, situated outside Roberts Bird Sanctuary on the southwest end, will have negligible impact on the birds that come there to feed and nest. Most of the birds, that live in this 0.9 acre segment, live and feed in the canopy of the taller trees or the understory of medium height trees, and stay well above the current human activity on the ground. I know this to be true because I regularly walk in the Mississippi River dog park (east of the Veterans Administration Hospital) and have heard and observed barred owls, orioles, scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings and many species of warblers along with dozens of other birds, who live in the trees above the trails in the dog park.

I cherish the park land in Minneapolis and use it often. There is no valid reason to think that a 0.91 acre dog park near Lake Harriet will compromise or degrade the land here or its resources.

— Mary Vanderford, Kingfield

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Preserve Hewson House

This is a response to Dylan Thomas’ article in the March 21 Southwest Journal on Salvaging History at the Hewson House.

Sean Richard Ryan and Montana Scheff and I notified local preservationists and e-mailed photos of items in the sale. Preservationists instantly notified TCF and Jon Tevlin of the Star Tribune who wrote a series of articles about the house.   

TCF did not prosecute Piccadilly Estate sales for conducting an illegal sale not demand the return of items sold. TCF also testified against the landmark designation of the house before the Heritage Preservation Commission.

Bob Glancy and Diane Montgomery, preservationists responsible for the rescue of many historic homes,  thoroughly researched the history of the house, photographed and meticulously documented it’s architectural features and nominated the house for historic landmark designation.

Marian Biehn and the board of the Whittier Alliance worked proactively with TCF to ensure the neighborhood’s goals of preserving historic housing and increasing the number of single family owned homes were met. Marian and other Whittier residents advocated for landmark designation of the house.

Preserve Minneapolis and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota worked with the Whittier Alliance in cooperation to recruit Gary Kirt to purchase and renovate the house as a single family residence.

This grassroots effort to rescue the Hewson house will only be a victory if the house is sold to a homeowner who will abide by the covenant, live in the house and continue its restoration.

— Madeline Douglass, Kingfield

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Park Board president on dog park issues

I want to take a moment to clarify some key points related to concerns about the establishment of a 6th District Dog Park. Those key points are:

1. Many dog owners in the 6th Park District expressed a desire to have a local dog park. I note that dog parks are now self-sustaining through use permit fees. In 2000, a Citizens Advisory Committee evaluated over 40 possible dog park sites in the area with much controversy and, ultimately, none was selected. Yet, the need for a dog park in this area has grown. The Park Board would like to fulfill that need.

2. The three sites being considered were thoughtfully identified. It has become obvious over the past 10 years that all neighborhood parks in this area are highly used and adding a dog park would displace a valued activity. Therefore, we identified new sites not in neighborhood parks that were not evaluated by the previous Citizens Advisory Committee. Two of the three sites are currently non-public underutilized Park Board parking lots; establishment of a dog park on parking lots would likely ‘green’ those sites to some degree. Those sites are:

A site over 50 feet outside the Robert’s Bird Sanctuary that is an existing non-public Park Board Operations parking lot for cars, trucks, and tractors across from the rose garden.

A wooded site outside the Bird Sanctuary that is in an area with problems related to misconduct that would benefit from more use.

A site in an underutilized non-public Park Board parking lot at the 38th Street Operations Center.

3. The Park Board would like to hear the views of local residents about each site. Because of this, we established a Citizens Advisory Committee to help with that process and get as much input as possible to select the best site.

4. This Park Board is actively, and dramatically, increasing wildlife and bird habitat citywide. We are planting 5,500 street trees this year (as last year), we are planting more than 4,000 shrubs/perennials for the first time to reduce mowing and increase habitat, we are conducting a vegetative management plan for Robert’s Bird Sanctuary to increase bird habitat, and we are looking into planting native plantings in groupings in edge areas by Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet and the Minnehaha Creek to increase wildlife habitat.

In closing, I look forward to hearing the thoughts of residents who live near the proposed dog park sites. I am  confident that we will identify an acceptable site with minimal or no adverse environmental impacts and fulfill a long-standing desire of many local dog owners to have a dog park in the 6th Park District.

— John Erwin, dog owner, bird lover, biologist and Sierra Club endorsed, Citywide Commissioner and Park Board President