We know Minneapolis is a wonderful city and have hundreds of lists to prove it.
It seems we land on a new list every day touting our town’s highly livable features, from outstanding parks to a fabulous food scene.
But there’s always room for improvement. This new #mplswishlist feature is a chance to share our collective aspirations for the city. We hope you’ll participate.
Whether you wish your street had a bike lane or have a great idea for a vacant building in your neighborhood, we want to hear from you! We’ll share our ideas, too.
We welcome your visions — big and small. Who knows, maybe some of the visions can be realized. Think of this as a comment box for the city.
To share your wishes with us, tweet your ideas using the hashtag #mplswishlist or post them on our Facebook pages at Facebook.com/SWJournal You can email them, too, to [email protected]
Here are some suggestions to get the ball rolling!
55th & Portland
Diamond Lake trail extension
We’d love to see an expanded trail around Diamond Lake, if neighboring residents were interested.
We asked park historian Dave Smith why trails around Diamond Lake never materialized as they did around other Minneapolis lakes.
“I think the biggest reason was timing,” Smith said in an email. “The area around the lake was acquired (much of it by donation) in the wake of the Depression and shortly before WWII broke out in Europe. After years of tight budgets and neglect of existing parks after the war, there was a backlog of park projects.”
Smith said a great deal of work was done to create nearby Pearl Park out of swamp land, and Diamond Lake was historically swampy as well.
“In the late 1920s and early 1930s, just prior to acquisition, the lake was nearly dry,” he said. “I suspect there would have been objections to spending money on paths around a lake that may or may not have remained a lake.”
And in a city with miles of trails, there may not have been much demand for more, he said.
The Park Board took steps to develop a trail plan in 2006, before receiving a neighborhood petition against a trail expansion.
It’s worth noting what Diamond Lake already offers today. The northeast shore has public water access for a canoe or kayak. A woodchip trail runs along the east side of the lake. And the Park Board says the 81-acre wildlife habitat is ideal for birding year-round.
Warehouse District / 128 N. 4th St.
New life needed for old New French space
It’s been a long time since there has been signs of life at the building once home to the Urban Wildlife Bar and Grill, and before that, the beloved New French Café & Bar.
The property at 128 N. 4th St. is one of many vacant spaces in the Warehouse District in need of new energy. With the vibrancy of the North Loop and the promising transformation of Block E into Mayo Clinic Square, why not spread the love to some of the forgotten and forlorn spaces along 1st Avenue and North 4th Street?
I’d love to see another fun hangout fill the former home of the New French and Urban Wildlife. Something that would cater to all the creative types in the neighborhood and not just be another magnet for heavy drinking on the weekends. A new thriving destination for this building would hopefully spark the arrival of other eclectic restaurants and retailers into an area with lots of vacant spaces with potential.
A smoky street in need of fresh air
This might be a pipe dream (pardon the pun), but I would love to see Hennepin become less of a smoke-filled street.
It’s nearly impossible to walk down the downtown stretch of the street without walking behind or next to a smoker.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the state’s smoking rate has dropped to 14.4 percent — the lowest rate ever recorded in the state.
“We know that many factors, including tobacco prices, smoke-free policies, cessation programs and media, combine to reduce prevalence over time,” said Dr. Raymond Boyle, director of research programs for ClearWay Minnesota.
Hopefully the smoking rate will continue to fall and one day we’ll see a smoke-free Hennepin.